Sukkot is my favorite holiday! In antiquity, Sukkot was so central in Jewish observance as to receive the additional moniker, “Heh-Chag – THE Festival.” In pre-Biblical times, Sukkot was a pagan harvest celebration. By the time the Torah was canonized it had become designated as the Jewish Fall Harvest Festival extraordinaire!

Occurring while the autumnal moon fills the evening sky with light, the sukkah booth erected so as to always afford an unimpeded glimpse of the sky, becomes the centerpiece of Sukkot observance.

Though Passover enjoys its beloved Seder plate and Chanukah its nine light menorah, Sukkot has no lasting ceremonial object. By the festival’s conclusion the sukkah leaves and decorative vegetables and fruits on strings have become dry and all but unrecognizable. Even the fragrant Etrog and the leafy Lulav have become noticeably shriveled. But, that is at the center of Sukkot’s abiding message – life is fleeting. Open your eyes to see the beauty and the wonders of life!

In fact, as is often pointed out, the building of this impermanent sukkah is meant to be more than just the locus of a week outside. The sukkah is a stark reminder of the forces of nature and the undeniable vulnerability which is inherent to all life. Surely, this lesson continues to make itself all too plain during the Covid-19 pandemic!

Nevertheless, rejoice good people, in the blessings which are ours and don’t forget to share them with those many who have so much less.

Faithfully yours,

Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn