Sukkot Theology and Themes

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One of the more poignant images is viewing the lulav and etrog as symbolic of different Jews within our community, each of value yet each expressing their Judaism differently.  On Sukkot we symbolically unite all these Jews together and celebration that although as individuals we are so different, as a nation we are unified. We joyously share our celebration with God.

Another name for the holiday of Sukkot is zeman simchateinu, “the time of our rejoicing.” Clearly one rejoices over the harvest just completed, but more than that, there is a sense of priorities that are being established through the images of the holiday.

Dwelling in a sukkah forces us to remove ourselves from the materialistic things that normally fill our environment. Most people try to fill their homes with the most beautiful and expensive articles within their reach. We surround ourselves day to day with our materialistic accomplishments and dwell in their midst. Sukkot forces us to leave those behind and return to a much simpler, almost nomadic existence. Our priorities refocus onto affirmations of nationhood and spirituality while we are reminded how fleeting wealth can be.

Sukkot returns us to a time in Jewish history when the entire nation was homeless and wandering. In the desert, the ancient Israelites often asked neighboring nations for assistance in their travels, but were often turned down. To show that we have learned form the travails of the past, it is traditional to invite others to share a meal in our sukkah as we remember how central compassion must be in a world where material things so easily come and go.

In a modern world it can sometimes be difficult to remember how dependent each part of nature is on the other. The holiday of Sukkot reinforces the notion that all of nature relies on a relationship with the Divine Creator and that humanity must play its part in securing favourable decrees and harmony within nature. From the individual to the community to the world at large, the holiday of Sukkot broadens our perspectives and reminds us to check our priorities.

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