By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
The joyous Holy Days of Sukkoth are characterized with abundance. It is
the time of ingathering of the season's crop -- that in itself a time of
rejoicing. It is a time when we have exited the courtroom of Hashem and
celebrate what we assume to be a good verdict. We take the Four Species
and wave them in all directions to signify Hashem's control of everything
for our benefit and as protection from our enemies. Foremost amongst the
misvot of the week is the commandment to dwell in the Succah. With all the
convenient modular Sukkoth on the market it is important that one not
forget that the symbol of Hashem's Divine Protection is really nothing
more than a minimum of three or four makeshift walls with some sticks or
branches on top. One might think that one should build a fortress to
symbolize Hashem's mighty shield.
In the times of the Temple the time of Sukkoth was a time of national
rejoicing unparalled the rest of the year. In the Mikdash --water was
poured as a libation on the altar. Although this was a change in Temple
procedures from meat, flour, wine and oil normally poured on the altar,
one can assume the reason was that we pray for a good rainy season during
this week preceding the winter planting. Yet it is a contradiction to the
feelings of gratitude one should demonstrate in the season of ingathering
of the bountiful crops that Hashem provided. Wouldn't meat, wine and oil
represent a more substantial "thank you" than mere water?
One could answer that the Torah wants us to learn the secret of happiness.
The command of "v'samahta b'hagekha" and you shall be happy on your
holiday --is repeated three times in the instructions for celebrating
Sukkoth. Happiness is the essence of this holiday. The way to achieve the
elusive goal is to appreciate the blessing of the simple things. Learn to
thank G-d for the basic necessities and then you will have mastered the
ability to enjoy the luxuries.
It is not uncommon for one to lose one's temper because one of the modern
conveniences develops a malfunction or is not as nice or new as the one
one's neighbor has. If you can appreciate the one room shack called a
Succah and you can feel it contains what you need then you will have no
problem appreciating and enjoying anything else that Hashem has provided --
over and above your basic necessities. Shelomo Hamelekh advised "Don't
overindulge in honey perhaps you will vomit." Too much sweet is not
healthy for the body nor is it beneficial for the soul. One might think
that since Americans today have more conveniences, comforts and pleasures
available to them than to any generation in history, that we are the
happiest people that ever inhabited the Earth. However, drug addiction,
tranquilizers, anti-depressants are common in today's society to
compensate for the emptiness the gadgets provide.
Sukkoth is a time for Happiness. The secret is to focus on the good that
one has -- the simple necessities that G-d has provided -- and to leave
our fancy dwellings to internalize the message for one more year. May
Hashem open our eyes and hearts to the message of the Succah and grant us
satisfaction and good throughout the coming year.
Tizku L'Shanim Rabot
Raymond J Beyda
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.