How shall we live?

By the time you read this, the intense period of the Days of Awe will be over, and we will be preparing to celebrate and express our gratitude for God’s blessing, bounty, and protection.  Our next holiday, Sukkot, is referred to as “z’man simchateinu,” the season of our joy.  We eat, sing, and dwell in the sukkah, a temporary structure, and we realize the fragility of life.  The sukkah  is open to rain and wind, easily shattered and broken, and the roof is open to see the stars.  It conveys a paradoxical notion of protection, suggesting that perhaps true shelter comes from the celebration of God’s eternal safeguarding.

On Sukkot, it is traditional to read from Ecclesiastes, which I will do at Shabbat  morning services.  The well-known song “Turn, Turn, Turn” is based on part of chapter 3 from this book.  The verse begins, “A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven.”  We read about experiences from birth to death, from love to hate, and from war to peace.  A central theme of Sukkot  is the reaffirmation of one’s part in the cycle of life, and this text reflects this theme.  Certainly, life need not be as flimsy as the temporary walls of the sukkah.   Life becomes significant when we DO something meaningful with it.

On Sukkotwe are reminded that the world is a delicate place and that impermanence is the way of all things.  Life is full of changes and unexpected turns, so our task is to make meaning of it.  On Yom Kippur, we asked, “Who shall live?”  On Sukkot, we ask, “How shall we live?”   Come to synagogue and celebrate both Sukkot and Simchat Torahat Shabbat  services on October 21/22.  I look forward to celebrating with you.  Chag sameach!

 Until next time, L’hitra’ot!