February 2, 2023 /
If I were to use this Between Us to list out all of the mitzvot/commandments, laws, and rituals for Sukkot, this bulletin would win a world record for length. If one were to take a guess as to which holiday, either Yom Kippur or Sukkot, had more halachot, Jewish laws, I’m certain that most would say that it would have to be Yom Kippur. It would be a wise choice considering Yom Kippur is all about securing a future in the coming year, wiping all our iniquities away and falling in with God’s good graces while Sukkot is about building a hut to live in and shaking a few plants. A wise choice, but a wrong choice.
There is a plethora of halachot and mitzvot that pertain to Sukkot. More so than any other Jewish holiday, including Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur combined. Even within those seemingly simple commandments like taking the lulav and etrog and shaking them, there are a myriad of ways of understanding and following them and all sorts of halachot on how to complete the mitzvah. When you look at the entire spectrum of halachot and mitzvot that stem for this one seemingly simple holiday, you end up with an uncountable number. In fact, according to Jewish tradition the first thing we should do at the conclusion of Neilah on Yom Kippur is not to eat something, but to go outside and start building our sukkah.
Why is this? I believe it’s because there is no more important holiday than Sukkot. The holiday has us live in temporary housing and imagine a world full of joy and wonderment. We live in a sukkah because we are reminded that we should find contentment with the little things and not get wrapped up in what is lavish. We are commanded to take joy in shaking the lulav and etrog because if we can find joy in them than we realize that we don’t need to be extravagant in what we purchase to find joy. All we need is family and love and the people that we care about, those we invite into our sukkah (of course physically distanced at 6 feet apart). The joy and peace of Sukkot is supposed to be a taste of a world of perfection. I pray that you are able to receive that peace this holiday season and help bring peace to others.
Philip N. Bazeley