Having observed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we move on to our next festival, Sukkot, which begins this Sunday evening.
In ancient Israel, Sukkot was a joyous time when people from throughout the country would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the end of the harvest season and to give thanks for the blessings of their lives. And so has Sukkot been observed throughout the centuries as our festival of thanksgiving—the biblical festival which inspired the pilgrims in 1621 to set aside a day of thanksgiving after their first harsh year in the New World.
There is a teaching that a person should recite no less than one-hundred blessings from the time one awakens to the time that we go to sleep. One-hundred different moments in a day when we are to take notice of some of the good and wondrous things that fill our lives each and every day.
As we are in the midst of again building our temple Sukkah, let me share a thought that pertains to our lives and to our world. I believe that of all of our Jewish symbols, that it might well be that the fragile and frail Sukkah most captures what we are about as Jews. Not only is it a symbol of thanksgiving and gratitude for our blessings, but it is the always vulnerable Sukkah that summons us to remember that there are so many in our world for whom the Sukkah represents their constant state.
So many people whose lives are threatened because of ancient hatreds and animosities; so many people who live without dignity, respect and security.
For all of us, let this festival of Sukkot open our hearts to the blessings of our own lives, and let this festival remind us that the highest expression of gratitude is to reach beyond ourselves with kindness and generosity toward those less fortunate than us.
Rabbi David Greenberg