Weekly D'var Torah


Shabbat Ha'azinu 5780 Dvar Torah

Rabbi Saul I. Grife

"The Season of Our Rejoicing!

The Jewish calendar is filled with joyous holidays, from Purim to Hanukkah to Shabbat. Only one, however, is known as the quintessential "holiday of joy". That festival is Sukkot which annually falls out on the 15th day of Tishri, 5 days after Yom Kippur, this year on Sunday evening, October 13th. There are 2 reasons why Sukkot has earned this description. One, by the end of Yom Kippur, the Jewish people believe that we have all done enough teshuva or repentance to gain us all entrance into the Book of Life for another year. Two, with the arrival of the harvest, the nation is comforted by the fact that the people will have enough food to eat for the coming year. These reasons and more have us referring to Sukkot as the most joyous of all holidays!

People ask, "Why is the Sukkah so fragile? Shouldn't we fortify it so it won't stand a chance of blowing over?"

According to halacha (Jewish law), the Sukkah cannot be built so sturdily so that it independently stands forever. The flimsy condition of the Sukkah teaches us lessons: 1) that the Sukkah mirrors life which is also of precarious nature, and 2) that true strength comes not from strong walls but from fortified souls. We don't depend on the fortifications of the Sukkah to protect us. Instead, we lean on God, our faith and ourselves to make it through the fall holiday that can bring us sunshine and heat or wind and rain. Regardless of the weather, we express our joy in the import of the holiday and the fact that we are eager to enjoy a new year of life and connecting with our Judaism!

BTBJ's Sukkot celebration is filled with activities. I hope you'll join us to bless the lulav and etrog, attend the Men's Club and Sisterhood outings in the Sukkah, come for Pizza in the Hut, Yizkor on Shemini Atzeret and our final day celebrations of Simchat Torah, including dancing outside on Monday, October 21 and finishing and restarting the Torah again on Tuesday morning, October 22 with our Simchat Torah honorees, Sylvia and Bennett Fishbein and Leanne and David Kaganovsky. Sukkot is so joyous - why not add to the joy with your presence?!

Every year the Grife family sponsors lunch in the Sukkah. This year it will be on the 2nd day, on Tuesday, October 15th after our morning Sukkot service and program. Please RSVP with Kathy in the office if you can or just come anyway! I look forward to eating, singing and sharing a Dvar Torah in our beautiful Sukkah that day!

Again on Simchat Torah we are thrilled to welcome Rak Dan Israeli Dancing with us on Monday, October 21st after Simchat Torah and Hakafot (Torah processions) at 7:30 pm. Israeli dancing on Simchat Torah is one of the highlights of the year! Whether you are a novice or a veteran - everyone joins in and has fun! We have the master himself - Rak Dan -joining us. We hope you will join us too and enjoy our Simchat Torah night of Israeli dancing!

Though life is finite, it should be filled with great joy! The message of Sukkot is live life fully now and each and every day, season and year you can! The Jewish people feel uplifted by the optimistic feelings that come at the end of Yom Kippur. We celebrate the Book of Life and the harvest and the opportunity to renew our commitments to living productive and joyful lives in the New Year. We resolve to rise up to meet our challenges as many generations have done before us.

This year, I hope we'll all look to strengthen ourselves, our families, BTBJ, America, the Jewish people and the world by living the lives we want to live - lives of compassion, generosity, love and peace. May you enjoy all that BTBJ has to offer to make Sukkot through Simchat Torah a true zman Simchatenu - the season of our rejoicing! I look forward to watching us grow Jewishly in 5780. May we all enjoy the journey and do all we can to strengthen Jewish life within our souls, within BTBJ and throughout the world in the New Year...


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