The Chassidic masters describe the events of the month of Tishrei not as solitary holidays, but as one continuous journey. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning. The trumpets are sounded, the king has arrived. The new year is upon us, for better or for worse. We hope for better. Ten days of introspection later, and the holy day of Yom Kippur commences, ready or not. The heavens open, the lines between human and angel are blurred. For 25 hours the highest level of our soul, a level one can not normally access – yetzirah – shines powerfully. We nourish ourselves not with food, but with holiness. At neilah the gates of heaven close…but what the chassidic masters explain is that they close with you inside. You have entered HaShem’s palace. And so, five days later begins Sukkot; 8 days of unadulterated joy and happiness. The sukkah surrounds us in a hug from G-d himself. We no longer chase after spirituality: we are now embraced by it. The joy continues to climb until it can no longer be contained in the body, and it explodes into unadulterated song and dance on Simchat Torah, when we dance with the Torah.
The Jewish way to begin the new year is not to make resolutions we will break within two weeks, like going to the gym more or making your bed. We start of the year packed full with mitzvot! We attend shul more than any other month, hear kiddush and eat challah more than any other month, pray, give charity more than any other month. Eating in the sukkah, shaking the lulav and etrog, dancing in shul on Simchat Torah – the list of opportunities goes on! And in contrast to the common perception that the beginning to the Jewish year is solemn and somber – the true beginning to the new year is only complete on Simchat Torah, right at the end of the month of Tishrei, when our feet are jumping and dancing with ecstatic joy.
This year the month of Tishrei and the high holidays have felt different for everyone. But the spiritual reality of each day continues, if we are able to be in shul or not. The ability to tap into that holiness remains with each one of us alone, at home. At Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this meant time to reflect, and make strong commitments for the new year ahead. It meant helping those we could, and giving a little extra to charity. For the holiday of Sukkot the Torah commands us “vesomachta bechagecha” – you should rejoice in your holiday. G-d commands the Jewish people to make this holiday their own, to own their own feelings and their own environment and to take ownership of this yom tov as a holiday of joy.
What message could be more powerful or more relative to today, to a lockdown Sukkot. There is no one else besides ourselves now, to show up for our families and bake challahs together, to get dressed up for yom tov, make kiddush and have dinner together. With no outside influences, it falls on us as individuals to celebrate Sukkot the way it was truly intended: as 8 days of your deep joy. Surely when we see the things we have overcome and accomplished in the month of Tishrei we will be a able to accomplish ach someach the highest level of joy and happiness!
May we merit the time when the whole world will experience the true meaning of happiness, and we will celebrate Sukkot in Jerusalem with Moshiach now!
To check out a full how – to guide for all the days of Sukkot click here.
Sunday Morning Hebrew School has wrapped up its last week of term. The new term begins Sunday 17th October, hopefully in person and back to the normal schedule!
Monday Erev Sukkot 3:00-5:00PM Contactless pickup for your Sukkot essentials – freshly baked challahs, kosher wine and grape juice. Reservation only, call or text to arrange a pickup.
Friday 3:00-5:00PM Contactless pickup for your Shabbos essentials – freshly baked challahs, kosher wine and grape juice. Reservation only, call or text to arrange a pickup.
Monday night shiur with Rabbi Mendel Hecht will continue G-d willing after Sukkot.
Yom Tov times for Sukkot 1st days
1st night Monday 20th September – Candle Lighting 5:58PM
2nd night Tuesday 21st September – Candle Lighting after 6:55PM
Wednesday 22nd September – Yom Tov ends 6:56PM (havdalah is said without candle or spices)
Thursday & Friday – chol hamoed – days of Sukkot when (most) work is permitted
Mazel Tovs & Yartzeits
Happy birthday to Vicki Ross!
Happy birthday to David Sanders!
Happy birthday to Neil Rosen!
Happy birthday to Aron Apfel!
May you all be blessed with a year of health, wealth, happiness and success.
We wish long life to Richard Selkon on the yartzeit of his mother.
Wishing you a Good Yom Tov, and we hope to see you again soon.
Rabbi Mendel & Esther Hecht