How Can we Celebrate with Tragedy Around
Praise G-d all you nations, extol Him all you
peoples, because His kindness was mighty over us and the truth
of G-d is everlasting Psalms 117 Sukkot Hallel
What did G-d do for the nations of the world
that they are praising Him? They praise Him for all the might
and wonders that He did in the world; how much more so do we
[the Jewish people] have to praise Him Talmud, Pesachim
The seventy Sukkot offerings correspond to
and protect the seventy nations Sukkot 55b. Rashi Pinchat
All seventy nations are subcategories of Esau
and Ishmael Nitzutzei Orot, Zohar III 227b
The last birur [refinement] before the Geulah
is that of kelipat [husk of] Ishmael
R Dovber of Lubavitch, Shaarei Teshuvah II 17a. See Zohar
II 32a. Rambam, Iggeret Teiman ch. 3
On Sukkot is the work of refining kelipat
which prevents the Geulah
Sfat Emet, drush lSukkot
As we try to regain some composure following
the attack of September 11th, we also enter the
joyous holiday season of Sukkot. Among all festivals
of joy, Sukkot is specifically designated as the time
of our joy, and its celebration is greater than that
of other holidays. Song and dance permeate each day of this
holiday, growing in intensity with each passing day.
Is there room for joy when we are just beginning
to bury our dead? How can we celebrate when we are so uncertain
of what the future holds?
The trembling Days of Awe seem appropriate to
these difficult times; but joyous Sukkot?!
And just plain
joy, a joy that is so great that the Talmud says one who
has nor seen Simchat Beit Hashoavah (the celebration accompanying
the drawing of water for the altar on Sukkot) has not seen joy
in his life!
Penetrating into the personality of Sukkot gives
us deeper insight into the very nature of joy itself.
Joy (simcha) is a revealed expression of
the souls innate celebration of life. Being aware of your
indispensable purpose in life, by being connected to your Divine
mission, is true cause for natural celebration. Conversely,
lack of this awareness is the root of insecurity, fear, uncertainty,
and the inevitable resulting despondency.
The joy of Sukkot is the revelation and celebration
of the essential connection with our Divine mission established
on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Chassidic masters tell us that
you can accomplish with simcha on Shemini Atzeret and Simchat
Torah that which you can accomplish with tears on Rosh Hashana
and Yom Kippur.
There is a time to weep and there is a time to
celebrate. Just as healthy tears are not mere resignation and
fear, but release and catharsis that sow the seeds of growth;
so healthy joy is not escape and denial, but the celebration
of what makes life worth living, and makes those that tragically
died worth remembering. Those that sow with tears, will
reap in joy.
On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we stand in awe
before our Maker. We stand stripped naked of our illusionary
security blankets. We may even be shaken up and frightened for
losing the comforts of our past. But we learn to connect to
G-d, to embrace our only true source of security our
purpose in this world. And we learn to instill this higher purpose
into our daily lives.
On Sukkot we celebrate this connection. We dance
and sing in unadulterated joy. It is not frivolous nor superficial
joy. It is not jittery not distracting joy. It is the expression
of genuine happiness from the essence of your being. We celebrate
not because we are oblivious, but because we know that we will
prevail. A joy that at once knows of the tragic realities facing
us while embracing the reason to fight on and triumph.
The joy is an expression of our commitment to
good, the celebration of hope following loss (the hope that
was born on Yom Kippur). As we defiantly take the four species
in our hand on Sukkot we declare our victory in the battle of
good over evil (See Midrash Rabba Vayikra, 30:2).
Some armies once had a custom to sing a victory
song as they went to war. Why? They hadnt even begun the
first battle, how can they sing a victory song? Because they
are completely and absolutely confident that they will win.
This conviction lifts the morale and infuses the soldiers with
the absolute surety of victory. You then fight differently.
When you go to war with doubt and apprehension whether you will
win, you cannot fight with absolute conviction. Doubt is demoralizing.
Sukkot is this victory song. We march with the
four species, armed with our spiritual arsenal spiritual
weapons resolute to fight any battle, because we have
cause to fight.
This message of Sukkots victory is universal.
We are taught that the Sukkot celebration has a profound effect
on the nations of the world. The seventy offerings brought in
the Holy Temple on Sukkot and recreated through our prayers
today corresponds to and protects the seventy nations
of the world. Thus our joy and service during Sukkot has cosmic
impact on the destiny of the world. The fate of the nations
that was determined on Rosh Hashana begins to manifest in the
days of Sukkot.
As enter these joyous days, we are given power
to transcend our uncertainty, our fears and vulnerabilities.
We can access a greater strength that gives us the reason and
the power (cause) to celebrate. The time of our
rejoicing us together with G-d. We celebrate with
G-d our Maker, G-d celebrates with us, His creatures.
Joy has some special energy that can help us now,
more than ever. Joy has the power to transcend barriers (simcha
poretz geder). When you dance with joy you break down
walls and all forms of limits and constraints.
Joy unites people. Indeed, because joy cannot
be celebrated alone, we are obligated to invite guests to our
tables on Sukkot. We all sit together in one unifying Sukkah.
We bind together the four species Lulav (Palm branch),
Etrog (Citron), Haddasim (Myrtle branches), Arovot (Willow branches)
representing all different personalities, teaching us
that our diversity is our strength, it feeds our unity, each
of us with our unique contribution to the greater good.
Let us gather together during these upcoming days
of Sukkot and celebrate. Celebrate our lives and the gift we
have been given today: To be strong and fight for our true beliefs
Such gatherings are especially appropriate this
Sukkot and throughout the year, being that this year is a Hakhel
(gathering) year. [During a Hakhel year in the time of
the Holy Temple, men, women and children would gather together
on Sukkot to hear and learn Torah and stand in awe
This message of hope, joy and unity is needed
now more than ever in the aftermath of September 11th
and its shattering effects. It is the ultimate fuel to be able
to forge ahead, rebuild and come out even greater.
Let us not forget the great opportunity before
us to use this shakeup as a wake up call to reclaim our purpose.
This is the season to ask yourself: What gives
me true joy? What blessings do I have in my life? With all this
pain and loss around us, with all the uncertainty hanging over
us, what is worth celebrating?
You can now order the tape of Rabbi Jacobsons
elaborate class on this topic.
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This life skills article is one of many services
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perpetrated against humanity. We want you to know that all of
us here at The Meaningful Life Center are working overtime to
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We need to join together as never before to nourish
the grass roots awakening that has consumed this nation and
its gravitation to faith and G-d, and transform it into a permanent
spiritual transformation. Our calling today is to demonstrate
leadership and light up the way in which to forge ahead amidst
this tragedy, and these new, challenging times.
Our sages teach us that by intensifying our charitable acts
we open up new channels of blessings. In this spirit, may your
commitment be a source of blessings in all aspects of your life.
We look forward to working together with you in this divine
cause. Through our joint effort we can grow through this process
and build a better world a world where there is no evil
and destruction because it is filled with Divine knowledge
as the waters cover the sea.
Phillip, Jason, Neria, Shoshana, Chani, Sarah, Yael, Eli
and of all us at The Meaningful Life Center
Helping You Redefine What Truly Matters
Our hearts, condolences and prayers go out to all the families
directly affected by this calamity, and to all New Yorkers,
Americans and the entire human race against whom this atrocity
WHAT IS THE MOST POWERFUL THING YOU CAN DO
IN RESPONSE TO SEPTEMBER 11?
Join us in creating a passionate spiritual
revolution for the good.
As passions of violence have been released
on us, against humanity, our most powerful response is to counter
with a passionate revolution of purpose, with no less passion
and drive than the evil being waged against us.
This is our mission at the Meaningful Life