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Sukkot Summaries

Sukkot II 5777-2016

“Why is Sukkot Celebrated in the Fall rather than in the Spring?”

Why is Sukkot celebrated in the fall rather than in the spring?

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Haazinu/Sukkot 5777-2016

“Sukkot: Enveloping Israel in G-d’s Loving-kindness”

As an eagle hovers over its young to protect them, so does G-d Al-mighty hover over His people Israel, in love and with kindness, protecting them in His Sukkah from the howling winds of the wilderness, and the threats of Israel’s determined enemies.

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v’Zot Habracha-Simchat Torah 5776-2015

“The Confluence of v’Zot Habracha and the Holiday”

There is a strong connection between the festival of Simchat Torah and parashat v’Zot Habrachah. It is in this parasha that Moses proclaims that the Torah that Moses commanded to us is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob. What is the difference between a “heritage” and an “inheritance,” and how is this distinction transmitted through the celebration of Simchat Torah?

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Haazinu-Sukkot 5776-2015

“The Sukkah In The Sky”

The powerful imagery of the eagle hovering over and protecting its young not only underscores G-d’s role as Israel’s constant protector, but also brings to mind how G-d protected the ancient Israelites by sheltering them in the special Sukkah huts in the wilderness, and continues to protect us today with His great “Sukkah in the Sky.”

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Sukkot 5775-2014

“Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov’s Observations on the Sukkot Festival”

The great religious writer, Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov brings a unique perspective to understanding the festival of Sukkot, and the special relationship between the Al-mighty and Israel that developed after the Exodus from Egypt.

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Sukkot 5774-2013

“Half for You, and Half for G-d”

The Jewish festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot are intended to be shared celebrations. Half is to be devoted to the celebrants and half to the Al-mighty.

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Haazinu-Sukkot 5773-2012

“Yom Kippur: A Prelude to the Festival of Sukkot”

The four days between Yom Kippur and the festival of Sukkot are important transitional days. As often occurs, the parasha that precedes or follows a Jewish holiday dovetails thematically with the upcoming or recently passed festival. This week’s parasha, Haazinu, is no exception, confirming Yom Kippur as a most meaningful prelude to Sukkot.

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Sukkot 5772-2011

“The Meaning of Sukkot: Insights of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch”

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), the great leader of German Jewry, uncovers extraordinary insights in the mitzvah of Sukkah. Among other insights, Rabbi Hirsch boldly proclaims that the message of Sukkah is to go into the Sukkah with G-d and have ultimate faith in Him, Who sustains everyone in the wilderness and in their homes.

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Sukkot 5771-2010

“A Turning Point for Humankind”

As much as Sukkot is a nature-oriented celebration, it is much more a G-d-centered festival, and therein lies the essential revolutionariness of Sukkot.

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v’Zot Habracha-Simchat Torah 5770-2009

“The Confluence of v’Zot Habracha and the Holiday”

There is a strong connection between the festival of Simchat Torah and parashat v’Zot Habrachah. It is in this parasha that Moses proclaims that the Torah that Moses commanded to us is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob. What is the difference between a “heritage” and an “inheritance,” and how is this distinction transmitted through the celebration of Simchat Torah?

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Sukkot 5770-2009

“Sukkot: The Dialectic of a Festival”

The festival of Sukkot actually represents a delicate balance between the spiritual and material worlds. The Talmud records a dispute between the rabbis concerning whether the “sukkot” (booths) referred to in the Torah were actual physical booths that were built by the people of Israel, or Divine Clouds of Glory that hovered over the people as they traveled in the wilderness. These two opinions represent the dialectic between the physical and the material world that is necessary for achieving a proper balance in life.

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Sukkot 5769-2008

“The Imperative of Joy”

Non-Jewish theologians often promote the misleading notion that Jewish worshipers pray while trembling in fear and mortal dread before a vengeful deity. The truth is that Jews are meant to serve G-d in joy and happiness. It is on the festival of Sukkot where joy reaches its peak. Therefore we are mandated on Sukkot to be joyful, and to reaffirm that joy is intended to be the natural state of the Jewish people.

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Sukkot-Hoshana Rabbah 5768-2007

“The Festival of Sukkot Comes to a Dramatic Close”

The festival of Hoshanah Rabbah, which concludes the Sukkot holiday, is often considered a minor observance, and frequently falls between the cracks. It is however a most significant day in which all of humankind is judged. It is therefore filled with meaningful rituals and traditions that are key to fully appreciating the true significance of this important holiday.

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Sukkot I 5767-2006

“Sukkot- The Festival of Joy”

The holiday of Sukkot, known as the “Festival of Joy” was renowned in ancient times for its most festive celebration of Simchat Beit Hashoeva, the festival of the water libation. Around the year 95 B.C.E. when the King of Judea, Alexander Yannai, attempted to change the ritual of water libation, he was pelted by the traditionalists, leading to a massacre of many of the celebrants. While even the minute detail of the Sukkot rituals were sacred to the ancients, most contemporary Jews fail to celebrate Sukkot in any manner, and know absolutely nothing of this very special joyous festival.

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Simchat Torah 5767-2006

“The Evolving Holiday”

One of the most joyous days of the Jewish calendar, Simchat Torah, as it is celebrated today, is a relatively new holiday that became popular in the Middle Ages around the 14th century. The customs and rituals of this holiday have interesting origins, and, in fact, seem to still be evolving and developing in contemporary times.

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Haazinu-Sukkot 5766-2005

“When Life Revolves Around G-d”

The magnificent poetry of parashat Haazinu informs us that the People of Israel were the only nation created without a land. In this way, it was assured that G-d would be the people’s primary influence, rather than allow the natural environment of the land to influence His people. So it is that in the midst of our abundant creature comforts, Sukkot comes to teach us a formidable lesson– that we are never truly secure unless G-d is in the forefront of our minds, and a constant presence in our dwelling places.

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Sukkot 5765-2004

“Worshiping G-d Wholeheartedly”

In an affluent society, such as the one in which we live, it is often difficult to find opportunities to worship G-d wholeheartedly. By sacrificing our mortal comforts and entering the ill-furnished sukkah, we send G-d a message that we are prepared to give up our creaturely comforts for Him. History has proven that when we sacrifice, we get paid back–big time!

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Simchat Torah 5764-2003

“Celebrating Torah”

Torah does not just punctuate, it permeates, the life of a Jew. Torah is meant to be nothing less than the Jews’ preoccupation, all of the days and nights of one’s life. Like the air that is breathed, or the heart that beats within a human chest, there is no possibility of Jewish life absent of Torah.

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Sukkot 5764-2003

“The Seven Protective Divine Clouds”

According to the Midrash, the Jewish people were protected in the wilderness from the elements and from enemy attack by seven clouds. Though it is often hard to believe, the Jewish people today are similarly cared for in exile. G-d indeed shields them, but Jews must do all they can to look after their own well-being.

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Sukkot 5763-2002

“A Sukkah Memory”

Back in the good ol’ days of the Bronx, there weren’t many religious Jews, and very few private Sukkot. My father, of blessed memory, was not happy with the way the local synagogue had decorated its sukkah, and took it upon himself to redo the decor. The results of his interior decorations surprised everyone.

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Sukkot 5762-2001

“I’m Dreaming of a Warm Sukkot”

A little boy recalls his memories of the festival of Sukkot in the wilderness of the Bronx.

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Sukkot 5761-2000

“The Sukkot Story: Devotion to a Festival”

Devotion to G-d must be wholehearted. Earning a place in the World to Come must be due to a person’s good deeds, and not one’s superior negotiation skills.

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