Religion & Beliefs
Nothing But Joy
Sukkot is my favorite holiday. I love all harvest festivals (I’m also a Thanksgiving sucker) and the rustic autumn colors and smells of fall that we get during sukkot. I love eating in tight quarters with guests, and sukkah hopping … Read More
Sukkot is my favorite holiday. I love all harvest festivals (I’m also a Thanksgiving sucker) and the rustic autumn colors and smells of fall that we get during sukkot. I love eating in tight quarters with guests, and sukkah hopping in my super-frum Chicago neighborhood, where on some blocks every house has a sukkah. And I even love eating in the cold and the rain and the dark, and sleeping outside on wet grass. The thing about sukkot, though, is that by the time I’ve gotten through Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I’m already emotionally and spiritually exhausted. And along comes a week long holiday that ends up feeling overwhelming more often than not. There’s so much going on, so much planning and cooking and building and decorating to do—it can feel like work. But you know what’s great about sukkot? One of the main commandments going with the holiday is to be happy. Check out the JPS translation of Deut 16:13-15:
After the ingathering from your threshing floor and your vat, you shall hold the Feast of booth for seven days. You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, your make and female slave, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow in your communities. You shall hold a festival for the Lord your God seven days in the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings and you shall have nothing but joy.”
Nothing but joy, people! We’re supposed to rejoice with all of these random people, everyone from the highest to the lowest members of our community, and we’re supposed to have nothing but joy. (For more on this commandment, see Rabbi Rosen's blog). Normally the commandments to feel a certain way annoy me, but I surrender to sukkot. On sukkot I laugh and sing zmirot and hang out with old and new friends. Nothing but joy is a tall order, but if there’s anything worth aspiring to, it’s that, right? Here’s wishing you and your families nothing but joy, through sukkot and well into the New Year.