A Tidbit of Torah Sukkot 5784

Old business before new Torah. Several people have requested the story I told on Yom Kippur about the young boy who had not eaten breakfast, so I share it with you below along with the contact information for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

Is This the Fast I Have Chosen?
A teacher in Minnesota asked his class, “how many of you had breakfast this morning?”
As he expected, only a few of them raised their hands.
So the teacher continued. “How many of you skipped breakfast this morning because you don’t like breakfast?” Lots of hands went up.
“And how many of you skipped breakfast because you didn’t have time for it?” Many other hands went up.
The teacher was pretty sure by then that the remaining children hadn’t eaten but he didn’t want to ask them about poverty. So he asked, “How many of you skip breakfast because your family just doesn’t usually eat breakfast?” A few more hands were raised.
Then he noticed a small boy in the middle of the classroom, whose hand had not gone up. Thinking the boy hadn’t understood, the teacher asked, “And why didn’t you eat breakfast this morning?”
The boy replied, his face serious, “It wasn’t my turn.”

To learn more about MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, or to donate, go to: https://mazon.org. You can also donate by phone (800) 813-0557, or by mail (PO Box 6095, Albert Lea, MN 56007.
This story was shared to MAZON by Irving Cramer

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering,
where it will go.”                                                                            – Paul McCartney

Those lyrics are from the first non-kiddie album I owned, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Every year, around the festival of Sukkot, they seem to float to the surface of my mind as I think they may be the antithesis of what our great sages and teachers of blessed memory expected us to experi­ence and ultimately internalize from our time spent in the sukkah.
In Sukkah Building 101 as pre­sented in the Talmud, we are specifi­cally instructed that the “roof” of our Sukkah may not be water-tight or even too thickly covered with branches. We are expected to see and feel the weather, rain or shine. Our minds are supposed to look upwards and out­wards and to wander where they will go.
The sukkah, open to the ele­ments, fragile in nature, and temporary by definition, is meant to establish a nexus with our ancient ancestors and a link to our sacred history while simultaneously inculcating deeply held Jewish values. Originally, the sukkah was mandated by God as a reminder of the wandering in the wilderness by the Israelites on their journey from Egyptian servitude to the Promised Land. Having established themselves as primarily an agrarian society in their new home, the sukkah became both a practical construct, namely a temporary haven in the fields during the harvest season, and a symbol of the agricultural abundance with which the Holy One had blessed the land and its people. Over time, the image of the sukkah evolved into a metaphor for a world filled with peace, harmony, and tranquility.
As urbanites and suburbanites, leaving our sturdy, dry, and well-heated homes in favor of a week of “rustic” living in the sukkah, exposed to the elements and under a starry canopy, is meant to broaden our understand­ing of what home means for us and eventually those less fortunate than us. Our minds are meant to wander outward into the world, to see with new clarity the inequality that grows ever greater and the desper­ate challenges that many face. The openness of the sukkah is meant to enable our mind to wander where it will go in the world, to look outward and beyond our selves rather than to look inward and see only ourselves.
In describing the festival of Sukkot the Torah tells us that,
“After the ingathering from your threshing floor and your vat, you shall hold the Feast of Booths for seven days. You shall rejoice in your festi­val, with your son and daughter, your male 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.” (D’varim 16:13-15)
The Torah emphasizes that this festival experience is meant to be joyous but adds the caveat that it will only be fully so when it is fully inclusive of those who might other­wise be left behind or forgotten. For the metaphor of peace and harmony to become a reality then we must become God’s partners in the process of Tik­kun Olam, the work of fixing the holes in our world.
Throughout the festival, it is cus­tomary to demonstrate our hospitality by inviting guests into our sukkah, both real and symbolic. While those in need may not be physically around our table, through our generosity to the regional food bank and Mazon on an international level we continue to include them as our ancestors did and their “presence” at our table enhances the festival celebration for all.
May our celebration of Sukkot be filled with joy, celebration, and inspi­ration.
Chag Sameyach –
Rabbi David M. Eligberg

The Byrds –
Turn, Turn, Turn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4 ​​​​​​​

One of the customs associated with the festival of Sukkot is the reading and study of Kohelet, Ecclesiastes. The most well-known portion of the book is chapter 3 which speaks of how there is a season and a time for all things under Heaven.

Livin’ in a Booth –
The Fountainheads

This playful piece highlights the joyous nature of the Sukkot festival. The Torah specifically calls upon us to be “especially happy” during this holiday. For our agrarian ancestors, a significant element of their celebration was tied to completing a successful harvest. For us, Sukkot is a moment to appreciate our many blessings.