The 7 day holiday of Sukkot is best known for the temporary booths that are built (each one is referred to as a Sukkah) and for the shaking of the 4 species (referred to as the Lulav and Etrog.) However, Sukkot is one of the more complex holidays that we have. In fact, it is known by several names, each having to do with a specific aspect of the holiday. It is called HeChag (The Pilgrimage), Chag ha’Asif (Holiday of the Ingathering – referring to the harvest of Autumn fruits and vegetables), and Z’man Simchateinu (Season of Our Rejoicing.)
The many lessons of Sukkot can best be summed up by the idea we celebrate our faith in the workings of God’s good world.
In ancient days, the Autumn harvest was the last harvest before the long winter. Undoubtedly this time of the year awakened fears in people that nothing would grow for the next several months. Before electricity and refrigeration and the corner grocery store, people had to rely on these harvested foods to sustain them throughout the cold months. Just imagine, how these people needed to have so much faith that warmth and rain would return in the spring to grow new and fresh crops.
The question for us is can we find that faith in a world where we have such easy access to fresh produce at any time of the year?
The answer must be ‘yes’. Even if many of us don’t ever worry about the effects of the winter on our food supplies – many people in our world and on long Island do worry. The Sukkah remind us that there are many, many people living in our modern world who still do not have refrigeration or money to buy fresh foods. Many people live year round worrying about their next meal, but live with true fear during the winter.
The moment that we become aware of this fear is the moment we can bring the joy of faith to others.
Pick your favorite soup kitchen, or food rescue organization, or homeless shelter, and share some of your harvest – all year long, and especially all winter long. In this way Sukkot will truly be a season of rejoicing for all.