Emor or Speak, found in Va’Ikrah(Lev.) 21-24.
In this Torah portion we read in chapter 23 the listing and explanation of G-d’s calendar for each year. In it we read of all the appointed times when G-d expects to meet His people. We read about the three appointed times when all males are required to appear before the L-rd in Jerusalem. These three appointed times are Passover, Shavuot(Pentecost) and Sukkoth(Tabernacles). In both Passover and Shavuot we can relate great miracles performed by G-d for the people. In Passover we see the redemption of the people by the splitting of the Reed Sea. In Shavuot we read of an entire nation seeing and hearing the words of G-d as He comes down on the mountain. Yet for Sukkoth we are hard pressed to identify a miracle that relates specifically to this appointed time.
Rabbis of old have had long discussions about this, with more than a little disagreement about the spiritual meaning of this lack of a miracle to tie to this holiday. Some have said that the cloud of glory that followed the people was the miracle, and from this we get the name of the holiday. Others have said the name comes simply from the fact that the people lived in temporary huts during their travel and the miracle is that even in such meager surroundings they followed the L-rd to the ultimate goal of the promised Land. No doubt they were sometimes kicking and screaming along the way, but even in spite of everything they followed G-d. We read of this in Jeremiah 2:2, where G-d says “I remember the devotion of your youth, how, as a bride, you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.”
Also in D’Varim 8:10-18 we read the words of Moses where he cautions the people about their(our) tendency to grow complacent when times are good and forget all G-d did for us in those times where it was a “land not sown”. I believe that this is our real challenge in our world today. It is easy to forget how far G-d has brought us. It is easy for our faith to grow weak when we look at where we are and say, all I have I have by the work of my own hands. Sukkoth should remind us that He provides for us and has provided for us, it is not by our effort, but by His grace that we have each day. This may be the miracle of Sukkoth, our continued faith in Him in both the hard and easy days of our lives. Those humble little huts we build each year at the appointed time bring us back to our real roots of faith.
I pray that each year we can experience spiritually these appointed times in our walk with the Father and move from redemption to the Promised Land.