Don’t worry, be happy

Sukkot has a powerful and unusual commandment associated with it – V’Samachta B’Chagecha (you shall rejoice/be happy during your holiday). What makes this so unusual is that commandments, especially those dictating the ways in which holidays are observed, rarely attempt to legislate emotion.

What it is about this holiday that should make us so happy?

We do some pretty weird things for the 8 days of Sukkot. We gather willow, myrtle, palm and etrog and shake them, and we also eat and some people sleep in temporary huts (sukkot), right outside of their perfectly functional dining rooms.

It is the temporary displacement from our homes that many highlight as a central message of the holiday. It is human nature to grow accustomed to our routines, and to take for granted many of the most miraculous aspects of our existence. It is the wisdom of Jewish tradition that helps re-awaken us to the everyday miracles of our lives. On Sukkot we remember that the apparent permanence of our homes is an illusion – despite their solid appearance, they are also fragile and temporary like so many other aspects of life.

By shaking us (no pun intended) out of routine, we have the opportunity to look around us and to remember that our relationships with family and friends are the only truly permanent things in our lives; in fact they are the greatest source of joy and meaning we can hold on to. So I encourage you to come have a meal in the sukkah at Gesher, or in your own, or at a friend or family member’s sukkah, and take a moment to remind yourself about what really matters.

Chag Sameach (wishing you a joyous holiday),