Chag Sameach! Sukkot has arrived and with it the Lulav and Etrog, the elaborate and simple Sukkot and a totally different feel from the formality of the High Holidays. We may be dwelling in different types of sukkoth this year, but the themes remain, and indeed, the theme of climate change and our relationship to the environment is of even greater importance. Even a quick visit to the news right now will give evidence to how important this linkage is and so many congregations will be doing just that.
Sukkot traditionally references the harvest. We dwell in temporary “booths”, open to the sky, to be reminded of life’s fragility, and again, this year, this linkage will be even more present. For Boomers, the idea of our life’s harvest in the midst of the sheltering in place becomes very profound. We are reminded almost daily as to the fragile nature of our own existence and with the isolation of so many, this holiday will take on heightened significance.
How much the more then that we will need to focus on that which blesses us. These days we are often reminded that we can find some measure of peace and blessing in the little aspects of life, often the daily “miracles” of living. Look at the section of the morning service that outlines these “miracles of daily life” (nissim b’chol yom). The lesson here for us is simple. It may be easy to allow ourselves to get lost in the reality of isolation. Yet, tradition, and this festival I suggest, can be a reminder to give thanks for the blessings that we have. We are alive. For the overwhelming majority of those reading this, we have shelter, food and the ability to reach out to a wider world; and also the ability to financially support those who have less. Indeed, why not make it a special Sukkot mitzvah and select a place in your town that would benefit from that donation; say a local food bank as so many do not have enough. Life, for many, remains fragile. If we are blessed with food, shelter and creature comforts, let his festival spur us on the celebrate our blessings and motivate us to share those blessings. Who knows who you may help? Including yourself!
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.