Sunday, October 8, 2017

Looking Through The Sukkah at Kohelet, Ecclesiastes

There's a time for...

Chazal, our sages decided that the book of Kohelet, Ecclesiastes should be read during the Succot holiday, which Gd commanded that we celebrate just as summer becomes winter. This is a time of the year when the weather here in the Holy Land can be very unpredictable.

We've been living in Israel for almost half a century. I have memories of days so hot they rival sumer and also rainstorms that had us in the house rather than the sukkah. There have also been years with such winds that the sechach, the special "roof" blew off the sukkah. And other families, whose sukkot are less sturdy than ours, lost theirs completely.

Kohelet, Ecclesiastes has a very well-known section in Chapter 3, which reminds us that there's a season for all things:
1Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.אלַכֹּ֖ל זְמָ֑ן וְעֵ֥ת לְכָל־חֵ֖פֶץ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם:
2A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted.בעֵ֥ת לָלֶ֖דֶת וְעֵ֣ת לָמ֑וּת עֵ֣ת לָטַ֔עַת וְעֵ֖ת לַֽעֲק֥וֹר נָטֽוּעַ:
3A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build.געֵ֤ת לַֽהֲרוֹג֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִרְפּ֔וֹא עֵ֥ת לִפְר֖וֹץ וְעֵ֥ת לִבְנֽוֹת:
4A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing.דעֵ֤ת לִבְכּוֹת֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִשְׂח֔וֹק עֵ֥ת סְפ֖וֹד וְעֵ֥ת רְקֽוֹד:
5A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.העֵת לְהַשְׁלִ֣יךְ אֲבָנִ֔ים וְעֵ֖ת כְּנ֣וֹס אֲבָנִ֑ים עֵ֣ת לַֽחֲב֔וֹק וְעֵ֖ת לִרְחֹ֥ק מֵֽחַבֵּֽק:
6A time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away.ועֵ֤ת לְבַקֵּשׁ֙ וְעֵ֣ת לְאַבֵּ֔ד עֵ֥ת לִשְׁמ֖וֹר וְעֵ֥ת לְהַשְׁלִֽיךְ:
7A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak.זעֵ֤ת לִקְר֨וֹעַ֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִתְפּ֔וֹר עֵ֥ת לַֽחֲשׁ֖וֹת וְעֵ֥ת לְדַבֵּֽר:
8A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.חעֵ֤ת לֶֽאֱהֹב֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִשְׂנֹ֔א עֵ֥ת מִלְחָמָ֖ה וְעֵ֥ת שָׁלֽוֹם:

Considering the unpredictability of the weather during Sukkot, you'd think that Gd would try to make it a bit easier and command us to live in these "temporary huts" for Shavuot, which falls in early summer, late spring. But Gd must have wanted to challenge us. Life isn't supposed to be easy.

There are good Jews who live in places in which there are frequent snowstorms or hurricanes just when Sukkot is on the calendar.

On Sukkot, we're, davka, commanded to be happy and celebrate. If someone dies and/or is buried during Sukkot, mourning is postponed. That's because we must learn to separate our personal joy or sadness with our religious/national feelings. We must remember that, contrary to pop/modern psychology, we are first Jews and part of a unique People/Nation.

It's not even a matter of simple "Gd will take care of us." We must remember that after This World, there is another. And that is the place where we enjoy or suffer for how we lived our lives here.

Chag Sameach

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