Full moon, full hearts, full harvest, full bellies…for some of us.
As we begin celebrating Sukkot this evening, a full harvest moon will light up the sky. After completing our 10-day observance of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, our hearts are full of gratitude: for family, for community, for the opportunity to begin anew.
There are some, however, who struggle with feeling a sense of gratitude because each and every day they struggle to find food for themselves and their families. For some, they are the working poor: they have jobs and homes, but not enough income to cover food. For others, many different circumstances intervened, and they don’t even have a roof over their heads. It’s easy for us to judge, to shake our heads. Our Jewish tradition teaches us otherwise.
Four days following Yom Kippur we rush to celebrate the bounty of the harvest in our Jewish festival of thanksgiving, Sukkot. (In fact, the early Pilgrims in America based the first Thanksgiving on the biblical holiday of Sukkot). There’s a duality to the nature of our observance: first, Sukkot is an expression of gratitude for the abundance of the earth’s bounty; second, Sukkot reminds us that there is a fragility of life to which all humans are susceptible – none of us are immune.
We build temporary precarious dwellings, sukkot (plural, sukkah-singular), where we can see the sky to remind us of this duality. The sukkah is made of natural elements reminding us of God’s beneficence. Its temporary nature and the fact that it is exposed to the natural elements serves as a reminder that we need to be cognizant that for some, this is their every-day life: a life of impermanence, fragility, no stability, and subject to whatever vicissitudes of life “blow them down.” Eating, drinking and sleeping in the sukkah for a week can be both joyous and humbling simultaneously.
During Sukkot, we shake the lulav and etrog, symbols of the earth’s abundance, acknowledging our dependence on God and nature for sustenance. As we give thanks for the fruits of the harvest, we must remember that not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy such abundance. This is where our duty as a community comes into play.
Feeding the hungry is a mitzvah, a commandment, deeply ingrained in our tradition, and it is especially relevant during Sukkot. We invite those who have no place to eat to join us in the Sukkah, we open our hearts and hands to provide food and sustenance in an ongoing and regular way. Our tradition teaches us that when we extend our hand to those in need, we are not only fulfilling a mitzvah but also strengthening the bonds that hold our community together.
We invite you to feel the spirit of the “full moon, full hearts” – the spirit of Sukkot – this week by:
Helping us to feed the hungry and achieve our goal of collecting 500 bags of food for our High Holy Day Food Drive (see flyer below). Please drop off your grocery bags by Sunday, October 1st.
Helping us cook meals for those in need with Monica’s Mitzvah Meals on the last two Sundays of the month. Sign up HERE.
Join us tonight for our 3-part Sukkot program from 4-5 pm, and our Erev Sukkot/Shabbat Intergenerational service in the Sukkah at 6 pm
Joining us for all of our Sukkot programing this week and each night of Sukkot by joining us to eat a meal in the Sukkah (see flyer below).
We wish you a Chag Sukkot Sameach – a joyful and meaningful Sukkot and Shabbat Shalom! Together, you and I can make a difference.