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Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

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Sukkot Evens the Playing Field for the Rich and Poor

Posted: 10/12/11 01:21 PM ET

As the sun sets on Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Jewish community begins the Festival of Sukkot, a spiritual harvest festival commemorating the historic journey of the ancient Hebrews across the desert, the bounty of the fall harvest, and our reliance on God.

However, Sukkot is much more than a way to commemorate this ancient journey, it evens the playing field between rich and poor.

Firstly, Sukkot is a remedy for our faith in possessions to make us happy. Surrounded by the walls of our temporary dwelling place, we remind ourselves that focusing on our friends, family and relationship with God can make us sustain our happiness.

More recently, as Jewish communities do not feel the constant threat of tyrants and anti-Semitism, Sukkot encourages us to help the many people who live on a constant basis without permanent shelter.

Another deeper lesson of Sukkot can best be understood by another name of the festival. The holiday of Sukkot is also called the Festival of the Harvest, commemorating the time when we gather our crops and fill our storehouses.

If one has been blessed -- our profits outweigh our expenditures, our portfolio has grown and our wine cellars are full and satisfaction and trust fill our soul -- it is at that moment that the Torah tells us to leave our home and dwell in a sukkah. The frail booth teaches us that neither wealth, good investments, IRAs or even real-estate are life's safeguards. It is God who sustains us all, those in palaces and those in tents. Any glory or wealth we posses came to us from God, and will endure so long as it is God's will.

And if our toil has not resulted in great blessing -- our investments went south, we lost our job and nest-egg, our cellars are empty, and we face the approaching winter with mounting debt and bills, living off credit from month to month, forlorn and fearful for how we will survive -- then, as we enter the sukkah, we find rest for our troubled soul. Divine providence is more reliable than worldly wealth, which can vanish in an instant. The sukkah will renew our strength and courage, and teach and inspire us with joy and perseverance even in the face of affliction and hardship.

 

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