Tag Archives: Sukkot-Rav

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Can There Be Joy Amidst Vulnerability?

The Torah makes it very clear that we are to be joyful on Sukkot. We read in Deuteronomy, “V’samachta b’chagecha … You shall rejoice in your festival … v’haita ach sameach … and you shall have nothing but joy.”[1] Given that Sukkot goes by another name, z’man simchateinu, “the time of our rejoicing,” it is no surprise that these verses have become the major theme song of our festival. And… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Brian Besser

You Shall Have Nothing But Joy

Sukkot Yom Kippur is the most ethereal of Jewish holidays. On the holiest day of the year, we symbolically shed the trappings of material existence. To my mind, the reason for fasting is not so much to afflict ourselves but to elevate ourselves above the earthly plane of reality. As much as humanly possible, we abstain from physical needs and urges. We don’t eat; we don’t bathe; we don’t engage… Read Article →

Community Blog Hebrew College Tablet Logo

Speaking Torah: Grateful for the Fragile Gift of Life

As we begin our celebration of Sukkot this week, I am more aware than ever of the paradox at the heart of this festival. Sukkot is known, on the one hand, as “z’man simchateinu,” or the “time of our joy.” It has its origins in the fullness of the harvest season.  We are invited, summoned—commanded, in fact—to celebrate all that we have received, to rejoice in the abundance of the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Alyson Solomon

Angels in the Wilderness

Ha’azinu/Shabbat Shuva, Deuteronomy 32:1-52 Early in Genesis we find Hagar, with  dust in her hair and on her feet. Hagar is Abraham’s handmaid, pregnant with his first and oldest son, running from her master’s home. She runs furiously into the wilderness and stops by an עֵין הַמַּיִם, a spring or more literally, an eye of water. In Genesis 16:7-8 we read: And an angel of the Lord found her [Hagar]… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

Seeking God’s Presence in the Sukkah (Shabbat Chol ha-Mo’ed Sukkot, Exodus 33:12-34:26)

Our Torah reading this week, for the Shabbat during Sukkot, is surely one of the most gripping stories in scripture, but at first glance it appears to have little connection with the holiday of Sukkot. The Torah passage narrates the aftermath of the Golden Calf episode, when Moses saw firsthand the apostasy of the Israelites just forty days after the Sinai revelation with its clear command not to make and… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Student Blog Hebrew College Tablet Logo

“If I Were a Rich Man”: A Sukkot Reflection

The great sage, Teviyeh, from “Fiddler on the Roof,” gives voice to the universal issues of poverty and wealth with humor and candor as he calls out to God: “It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. After all, with your help, I’m starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, it’s no shame to be poor … but it’s no… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Moses

Inhabiting Vulnerability

Parshat Ha’azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1-52 “You may view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people” (Deuteronomy 35:52). This week’s Torah reading, Parshat Ha’azinu, ends with this devastating reminder to Moses that despite having led the people out of Egypt and through the trials and tribulations of wilderness for forty years, he will not be allowed to enter the… Read Article →

Community Blog Amos Oz Don't Call It Night

Israel: A Love Affair

I just celebrated 40 years of visiting Israel! I was there recently visiting our Hebrew College education and rabbinic students who are studying in Jerusalem this year. It was a short but delightful visit; packing in countless scheduled and spontaneous meetings with colleagues and friends, wandering the Jerusalem streets as sukkot were erected, the boys came out with their lulavim and etrogim to sell and the early morning predawn call… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Sukkah

Sukkot: Staying a Little Bit Longer

My sukkah, my little holiday booth, is up. A few of my students came by today, pulled the old wooden frame with its lattice-work sides out of the garage, and put it together.  The whole construction job took about 15 minutes, but created a moment of great significance and joy. Sukkot is far and away my favorite holiday of the Jewish year. It forces me to spend time outdoors, something… Read Article →

Community Blog Community Blog Rejoicing on Sukkot

Rejoicing on Sukkot

In the rhythm of Jewish time, the festival of Sukkot is known as “z’man simchateinu,” or “season of our joy.” On Sukkot, joy is halakhically mandated; we are not only invited to be joyful, we are obligated to do so. I don’t know about other people, but I do not respond well to being commanded to be joyful. It’s sort of like being told to relax. Tell me I must be happy, and… Read Article →