Before we left the house as kids, my dad always asked, “Is everybody happy?” Learn what Jewish tradition has to say about happiness.
We pray to you
Creator of the Universe,
who causes the winds to blow
and the seas to rage…
For the weary and the heart shattered
escaping violence and bloodshed and war
Question: On Sukkot, we remember our ancestors' struggles to balance their lives with the surrounding environment in order to produce a bountiful harvest each year. But most of us no longer grow our own food or live at the mercy of natural phenomena in the same ways.
"At the edge of a valley so quiet and pretty stands a five story building far away from the city."
During Sukkot, we customarily invite famous people from the past to be guests in the sukkah. This year, I would like to invite Jesus as my guest.
At the end of Parashat Emor, a disturbing incident is related. In the heat of a fight, a man curses God and is stoned to death for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:10-23). It is understandable that readers may be repulsed by this narrative, and shocked and angry to find it in the Torah.
In Parashat Emor, the Torah reports that a man born of mixed Israelite-Egyptian descent “blasphemed the Name [of God],” was placed on trial, and was stoned to death. A law was then enacted that anyone, Jewish or gentile, who blasphemes the name of God shall be put to death. Over time, in communities throughout the world, laws against blasphemy were put in place to address curses leveled at God as well as perceived slights against some religions.
Each year on Sukkot, we read these famous words of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet): “A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven. …a time for tearing down and a time for building up.” (Kohelet 3:1,3). To speak of building during a holiday dedicated to erecting a temporary structure seems fitting. And yet, the order the ideas in this verse is at odds with our Sukkot experience. Surely, “a time for building up and a time for tearing down” would align more closely with sequence of the holiday. So why this order? And what exactly are “we tearing down and building up”?