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Reality Check

Friday, 24 September, 2021 - 8:04 am

Which Festival in the Torah is considered the most joyous?

According to the Torah, it is Sukkot (joy is mentioned three times regarding Sukkot, the most of any Biblical holiday).

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Why is Sukkot the most joyous holiday? Wouldn’t Passover, the liberation and birth of our nation, qualify as more joyous than remembering dwelling in huts and G-d’s Clouds of Glory? Or, wouldn’t the moment G-d revealed Himself to humanity and gave us the most precious gift, the Torah, qualify better than Sukkot?

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Which Book in the Torah is considered the saddest?

Most would respond that it is the Book of Kohelet / Ecclesiastes.

Interestingly, it is this Book that is associated with Sukkot (some have a custom to read the entire Book of Kohelet on Sukkot).

Why is the saddest Book in the Tanach connected to the most joyous holiday in the Jewish calendar?

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The truth is that the Book of Kohelet is not really a sad book. Rather, it is a reality check. It teaches us that mundane pursuits are fleeting, like a fleeting breath. These pursuits, even if wildly successful, cannot bring us true joy.

This leads us to reexamine our priorities and shifts our focus to things that really matter – the intangibles and spiritual pursuits that are everlasting and bring true inner joy.

In fact, the Book of Kohelet mentions the word “simcha” (happiness) more times than all Five Books of Moses combined!

So, Kohelet isn’t really a depressing book. Rather, it’s a recipe to help us achieve true happiness.

And, this is also the reason Sukkot is the ultimate Festival of Joy (Zman Simchateinu). True joy is not achieved when we celebrate something tangible. True joy is when we are stripped of our material strengths; when we are vulnerable. It is then that we reach deeper within and realize that our truest protection and support comes from Hashem. This, in turn, makes us feel as secure as possible – and brings us genuine – inerasable – happiness.

Now you know why we leave the fortresses we call home and dwell in a flimsy Sukkah for seven or eight days. It is in the vulnerable Sukkah, exposed to the elements, that we finally achieve unadulterated joy!

L’Chaim!

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