This month, we celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. We were commanded to dwell in booths as we wandered through the wilderness and to do so for a week annually during this special time of year throughout the generations so that our children and their children “may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
The booths, or sukkot, must be made according to detailed specifications, which include having three sides so that we may welcome guests via the open quarter. The roof of the sukkah must be made of branches separated from their roots and, although we must be able to see the sky through these boughs, as the sukkah is a shelter, it must provide more shade than sun.
During Sukkot, we hold the lulav and the etrog together, which reminds us of our bounty and offers one more opportunity to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest. We shake the lulav and etrog in all directions, another reminder that G-d is everywhere.
As we gaze at the stars through our sukkah’s fragile covering, how many of us recognize how awesome our universe is and consider how high we hope our aspirations will take us during this new year? Judaism teaches that “we don’t have to finish the task, but neither are we free from beginning it.”
For life to have meaning, we must have hopes, goals and dreams. The minister and civil rights activist, Benjamin E. Mays, perhaps said this best. He wrote: “…the tragedy in life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.”
Chag Sukkot sameach,