Posts tagged " Sukot "

Thought Tool Update

October 20th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Thanks for your comments about needing a visual. Please check out the Thought Tool again – let us know if the Hebrew visual is helpful.

While we are learning how to take full advantage of our website, one of the things that we are most enjoying is hearing from all of you through the comments section. Being able to easily edit the teaching in response to your comments is an additional treat.

What’s in a Name?

October 19th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 23 comments

In an act of unprecedented ostentatiousness, Gerald Guterman chartered the famous ocean liner, the QE2, along with its one thousand crew members to celebrate his son’s bar-mitzvah in 1986.

Our son’s bar-mitzvah was solemnized in a small synagogue built on the Los Angeles ocean front in the 1940s.  Guterman was trying to add meaning to his family celebration by means of an extraordinary location.  We were blessed to add meaning to a picturesque old house of worship by having it house our act of religious significance.

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Fishing for Life

October 6th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

What a blessings it is to be on fire to fulfill one’s purpose for living.  One of the most potent antidotes to feeling low or miserable is having a purpose and passionately propelling oneself towards it.

As an ardent boating enthusiast, I find the behavior of the Bible’s most famous mariner, Jonah, to be quite baffling.  At the height of a furious storm that threatened the survival of their ship, the terrified sailors cast their cargo overboard to lighten the vessel.  Obviously, during such a tempest the safest location is high up on the struggling vessel from where escape might at least be possible.  That is why lifeboats on every ship are found on the upper deck.  Nobody in his right mind would voluntarily remain far down in the belly of the boat.

“But Jonah descended down into the bilges of the ship, lay down and fell fast asleep.”
(Jonah 1:5)

Clearly this was a man without a worry in the world.  But don’t envy him.  Only the dead have no worries.  That’s the clue.  To Jonah, dying was not that different from his living existence.

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Glad to be Sad

September 21st, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You know those days. You feel unstoppable and on top of the world, walking on air with sheer delight. A real king of the hill. Keep your balance!

And then the days when you’re dejected and all alone and your eyes fill with the hot tears of defeat and you feel that life isn’t worth living. Keep your balance!

Things are seldom as deliriously intoxicating as they might seem and they are never as hopeless and despairing as they often appear to be. Keep your balance.

This Wednesday night is the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles; we call it Sukot, the plural of the word Sukah based on this verse:

In Sukot you shall live for seven days…so that your generations will knowthat in Sukot I sat the children of Israel when I took them out of the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God.

(Leviticus 23:42-43)


This holyday is uniquely characterized as “the time of our joy” on account of the following verses:

…and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.
 (Leviticus 23:40)


You shall make the holyday of Sukot for seven days…And you shall rejoice in your holyday…
 (Deuteronomy 16:13-14)


In another of those puzzling paradoxes we so frequently encounter in our Biblical studies and whose resolution inevitably leads to one more blinding truth about how the world REALLY works, we find death surrounding the holyday called “Time of our Joy.”  Death and joy?  Really?

Look at a few of these death allusions.  The holyday of Sukot occurs in the fall when the post-harvest fields are empty and the trees lose their leaves.  The days are getting shorter and cooler.  (Not coincidentally, this is when Halloween with its foolish emphasis on death and ghosts also occurs.)

The main rule about the Sukah is that its roof must comprise vegetation that once was alive but is now disconnected from the earth and dying.  The four tree species which we hold in our hands and bless each day of Sukot are green and beautiful but we watch them fade and wither.

During the Passover Seder we invite real living people who might be hungry to come and join our meal.  However, during Sukot, we invite dead people to join us.  On each night of the holyday we formally invite to our tables, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David.

The decidedly gloomy book of Ecclesiastes is read during the holyday of Sukot, with verses such as these:

Better is a name than good oil and the day of death is better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of festivity…

 (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2)


You get the idea.  The seven day festival of Sukot is highlighted as the time of joy.  Indeed, in Israel today, a happy atmosphere pervades the air on Sukot, felt by religious and non-religious alike. Yet it unquestionably contains more than its fair share of deathly hints.

I suspect that you have already grasped what God is hinting at.  You see, if we all lived forever, we would never know the real happiness of living.  Without sorrow there can be no joy and without darkness, there can be no light.  Paradoxically, the holyday of happiness must refer to death.

The reverse is also true.  Every pain ultimately carries the promise of pleasure; poverty promises prosperity and sadness contains the seed of happiness. The distress of death presumes the joy of eternal life.

I truly know of no better way of gaining the perspective so necessary for coping with life’s ups and downs than the the Bible with all its nuances.  Delve into a new secret or another insight. Replace the perplexing predicaments of life with its permanent principles.