“So on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruits of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD seven days… You shall dwell in booths seven days… that your generations may know that I made the children of Yisra’el to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Mitzrayim. I am the LORD your God.’“
(Leviticus 23:39 and 41-43)
It is that wonderful time of year again when we are commanded to be joyful in the Lord and rejoice for seven days. One would think that observing Chag HaSukkot commandment would be a piece of cake. How hard can it be to feel joy? If you have never done it before, I suggest you try it next year. Being joyful requires a conscious effort, especially if you are in constant pain from pulling a muscle while building your sukkah, or if your special recipe yom tov challah gets burned in the oven, or if the wind takes down your sukkah roof, or… You get the picture.
There are so many little things in this life – completely insignificant when looked at from the perspective of eternity – that rob us of our joy. Sukkot is the perfect time to deal with these “little foxes that spoil the vineyard,” not only because we should observe the mitzvot, one of which is to be joyful during this time of year, but also for much more mundane reasons. Ask any physician, and they will tell you that lack of joy in one’s life can negatively impact one’s health. Besides, who wants to live with an old curmudgeon anyway?
So, take the biblical commandment to heart, build a sukkah (booth, shelter),
decorate it with branches, banners, signs, fruit… make it pretty,
make a special meal (yom tov challah with raisins highly recommended), gather the “four species” (see Leviticus 23:40 for instructions), set a festive table,
and be joyful for seven days. It is a small sacrifice to make, but I guarantee it will make your family traditions richer, your attitude better, and your life healthier. Joy makes for a wonderful medicine that influences different aspects of our lives.
May you have a blessed and joyous season! Chag Sukkot Sameach!