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Welcome Back to the Real World

10/09/2015 09:46:00 PM


There are so many reasons to love sukkot. The onset of a gentle autumnal breeze (up here in New York, at least) reminds our bare skin of the approaching season we call simply “The Holiday.” A time of joy, a time of appreciating the non-indulgent of life’s simplicity, a time of apples and pumpkins, of orange and brown, of warm soups and hot tea — sukkot is true to its name: “the season of our delight.”

Most striking to me this year is the proximity of sukkot to Yom Kippur. Only five days separate the most ascetic day on our calendar from the most indulgent; the most colorless to the most chromatic; the most bland to the most aromatic. What accounts for such proximity of opposites? Despite its association with the new year, Yom Kippur is calendrically situated even closer to sukkot than to Rosh Hashanah. Like the quick shift felt in our springtime zionist holidays of Yom HaZikaron (memorial day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day), Yom Kippur and Sukkot create a parallel dynamic at the other end of the summer seasonal transition. After a 40-day journey inward, we finally look outward. After an attempt to elevate ourselves to the etherial, non-body experience of Yom Kippur and its denial of nature’s command over us, we suddenly settle back into the realities of our natural standing. Having achieved a state of higher being, even touching the angelic, sukkot is the simple and joyful “welcome home” to the world. If Yom Kippur is the day of no senses — the denial of taste, pleasant smells, erotic touch, even the visual beauty of more than simple white blurs in a single room — then sukkot is the day to flood our working senses with the joys of this world. It’s now that we learn to reach the enlightened precisely through the bodily existence of this world, and in doing so allow ourselves to elevate not just this season but the entire year ahead.

Hag sameakh!

Sun, October 17 2021 11 Cheshvan 5782