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Ode to Joy

09/26/2018 03:02:16 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

The month of Tishrei began with Rosh Hashanah, proceeded to Yom Kippur, and is climaxing and ending with Sukkot, Hoshanah Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.  It is during this month that we are able to come closer to Hashem that at any other time in the year.  And it is especially during Sukkot, the Season of Rejoicing, that we experience our greatest joy over the eternal covenant we have with HaShem.  It is during Sukkot when we are commanded to move from our permanent physical home and dwell in the temporary structure that reminds us of the how are ancient ancestors lived as they left Egypt and made their way to the Promised Land.  But the sukkah is more than a mere temporary structure which reminds us of what we were.  The sukkah contains a secret that best exemplifies the basis of the covenant between HaShem and the People Israel.

We know that the entire month of Elul and the first ten days of Tishrei deal with forgiveness.  We ask those whom we know we have wronged or think we have wronged for their forgiveness.  Let's say you tell a person you know you have wronged how you wronged him/her and ask for forgiveness.  There is no doubt that it is one of the hardest things for one to do: to go and admit to someone that you have wronged him/her.  So, having done this, you can expect four possible reactions.  (1) If the person doesn't care about the relationship you have with him/her, s/he might brush you off by saying, "Yeah, sure, that's fine.  Don't worry about it."  (2) If the person appreciates your sincerity and forgives you, s/he might shake your hand and say, "Thank you.  All is forgiven."  (3) If the person is truly moved by what you have said, s/he might say, "Please don't give it another thought.  I absolutely forgive you."  (4) But if this person has a loving and abiding relationship with you and forgives you with all his/her heart, s/he might give you a hug and say, "Forgive you?  Forgive you for what?  It never happened.  I love you so much.  Don't ever forget that, not for a moment, no matter what!"  It is this fourth reaction that is the secret of the joy of Sukkot.

Whenever we enter the sukkah, we are completely immersed in the Presence of the Divine.  Whenever we enter the sukkah, we experience the compassion and love and total forgiveness of HaShem.  Whenever we enter the sukkah, we are lovingly embraced by HaShem.  Why?  The sukkah is the physical manifestation of our eternal covenant with HaShem.  It is in the sukkah that we are fully surrounded and embraced by HaShem.  And what could give us more joy than that?

Tue, July 27 2021 18 Av 5781