CLERGY CORNER: The Holiday of Sukkos; To live in a modern world and keep ancient customs

Posted on 30 September 2015 by LeslieM

To be productive today, you must have learned to use computers and phones. You must be so fluent in using them that you can do anything while still using it. I just read in a recent study that most moments are captured by a person through a phone camera. For example, if you were to go to a sports game and there is a high fly ball to center field – snap, snap, snap – or if you go to a park and there is baby taking her first steps – snap, snap, snap. Those moments are seen and captured forever.

The good thing about being so tech savvy is that we accomplish a lot more in less time. We can send things across the globe in a flash. We can do amazing research on anything and have instant answers to any question we have on any subject. All this has made us much more productive than we ever were. It has made anything possible. So many wonderful things have started because of technology. Relationships, friendships, partnerships, cures are just a few examples of some of the great things the modern world has brought us.

With all that said, there are some negative things as well. I won’t go through the list, but I will point out one which I think we can work on. And that is the lack of personal attention and focus which, before technology, we were forced to have. Say you wanted to tell something to your mom, you would go down the block to your mom’s house and tell her in person. Today, you would text five words. Say you wanted to tell your child “I love you.” In the past, you would have had to tell them in person while looking in their eyes. Today, you text them while you are at work ‘Iluvu.’

We have lost all personal communication and have forgotten how to enjoy each other. We have forgotten how to sit across from each other and be the social, loving and caring creatures that we are!

We need to fix this, but the question is how?

Sunday, Sept. 27, Jews across the world began the seven day Holiday of Sukkos [or Sukkot]. After Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Torah says we must dwell in a Sukkah. (A Sukkah is a hut. It has four walls and a roof made from tree branches). How does one fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah? One should eat, drink and live in the sukkah, both day and night, as one lives in one’s house on the other days of the year: for seven days, a person should make his home his temporary dwelling, and his sukkah his permanent dwelling.

In Sukkot, you shall dwell for seven days,” instructs the Torah, “…in order that your generations shall know that I made the children of Israel dwell in a sukkah when I took them out of the land of Egypt.” (Lev. 23:42-43).

According to Chabad.org, our sages, noting the Torah’s use of the verb “to dwell” in the above verses, define the mitzvah of sukkah as a commandment that, for the duration of the festival of Sukkot, the sukkah is to become our primary dwelling place. Everything ordinarily done in the home should be done in the sukkah.

So every autumn, just as the weather is turning inhospitable, we move outdoors. For a full week, we exchange our regular home for a home which leaves us at the mercy of the elements, demonstrating our trust in G-d’s providence and protection, as our ancestors did when “following Me in the wilderness, in an uncultivated land.” (Jeremiah 2:2).

Dwelling in the sukkah for seven days is a beautiful and inspiring experience. Perhaps this is the solution to our problem. Leave the modern world and enter into the ancient world. Surround yourself with family and friends … talk to them, spend time with them, learn with them, sing with them, eat with them, play with them, read with them. Experience G-d’s timeless solution to a modern problem. Happy Sukkos.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the Director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches located at 4081 N. Federal Hwy., #100A, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. For all upcoming events please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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