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Teachings

Sukkot

 

Today is the first day of the seven day holiday of Sukkot. It marks the end of the biblical holidays of the year. It is also the last of the three festival holidays that required Jews to go to Jerusalem to offer their offerings and worship G-d. Sukkot is mentioned in John 7. There it describes Yeshua going up to Jerusalem and teaching.  The biblical cycle of holidays begins with Passover, followed by Shavuot and ending with sukkot.

 

As we look at these three holidays we see how each is a picture of our journey of faith. Passover is clearly a picture of our deliverance from the power of the evil one. It is followed by Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the day Moshe received the commandments of G-d on Mt Sinai. This holiday teaches us G-d has a way for us to live our life in this world. The year ends with Sukkot where we learn the deeper, true meaning of life as a child of G-d.

 

It is this topic I want us to take some time and explore. This week, in studying about Sukkot, I read an article by Joseph Shulam, a leader who lives in Jerusalem. In this article he mentioned a book he read that touched him deeply. The title of the book was, “The Nomadic Life.”

 

I have not read the book but the title perfectly describes our life as believers in this world today. What is a nomad? A nomad is a person whose life consists of living a simple life, moving often to find the best place to camp for a while. I considered how this might help us understand Sukkot. In Leviticus 23:42-43 G-d commanded the people to observe Sukkot by living each year during these seven days in a sukkah. A sukkah is translated as a hut or booth. By this, they were to remember how they had lived when G-d brought them out of Egypt and took them into the wilderness. 

 

Over the centuries rabbis have argued about the purpose of a sukkah. Some said it represented the cloud of Glory that surrounded the people while they were in the desert. Others said it was to remind them of G-d’s provision for them during this time in the desert.

 

Finally, the prevailing view, that the holiday, above all else, was to show them and us that no matter what, G-d is there. That He is with us through every good day and ever difficult day. This is evident when we look how tradition, over time, gave the phrase, “the time of our joy,” to this seven day holiday.

 

Remember, they gave this name to a time when they left the comfort of their homes and went to spend 7 days in a hut, in a booth, in a sukkah.  There is also another interesting custom that concerns this holiday and that is the reading of Ecclesiastes during the seven days. I would suggest each of you take a few minutes and read this short book. The second verse of the first chapter is, “Vanity, vanity, said Kohelet, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Now this is the interesting part, why, for a holiday that is known as the time of our joy, have such a somber reading as Ecclesiastes become one of the primary readings?

 

In our time today in the world, I believe this has great relevance to us. Our joy in this holiday comes from the fact that G-d is always with us. His love never fails us. He is trustworthy. In our time, it has become the goal of many people and maybe even us, to pursue things such as money, possessions, power and fame. All of these, we are told, will give us happiness. Yet do they? When we read Ecclesiastes what do we see? All the world has to offer is vanity, all is vanity. Yet this holiday says it is enough to be a child of G-d. Our life is more than things. Things and the pursuit of things is a wheel that never stops turning. Yet happy is the man who knows G-d and can rest in His arms. Psalms 90:12 reads, “Teach us to rightly number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Make each day count! Sukkot shows us what is true joy. Happy Sukkot to each of you. If you have the opportunity I hope you will sit in a sukkah for a bit and truly experience the time of your joy.