Succot is not another building block in the Judaic world of ideas. Unlike other festivals, Succot does not highlight a unique idea. Pesach encourages liberty, Shavuot celebrates Torah, Rosh Hashanah highlights accountability, and Yom Kippur facilitates harmony between ourselves and God. Rather than contributing an idea to the final Judaic product, Succot is the final product itself. Earning liberty, accepting the Torah, living a life of accountability and harmony all add up to Succot!
There are two cycles of biblical Jewish festivals. One is the cycle of the three festivals; Pesach, Shavuot and Succot. The second consists of the festivals belonging to the seventh month of the Jewish year; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succot. Both lead to and culminate with Succot.
As the final product of the festival journey, Succot invites us to live in the idealistic instead of the realistic, thereby enabling happiness and joy. Indeed, Succot is the festival of happiness, Chag Simchateynu. As such, in biblical and contemporary times, Succot evenings are celebrated with music, singing, and dancing. During the day, we praise and appreciate God by reciting Hallel with the four species (which represent our livelihood). During the week, we happily live and socialise in a succah, which represents a simple home – all we really need.
Jewish festivals introduce and contribute ideas that combine to inspire a life of profound joy, genuine appreciation, trust in the future, love of our Torah, elegant simplicity, and celebration. Succot embodies all these virtues to create a celebration of life.
υ Rabbi Boruch M Boudilovsky serves Young Israel of North Netanya