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The Great Equalizer

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

"You shall dwell in Sukkos for seven days; every member of Israel shall dwell in Sukkos. In order that you know, for all generations, that I placed the Children of Israel to dwell in Sukkos, when I took them out of the Land of Egypt; I am HaShem your G-d." [23:32-33]

In what "Sukkos," or booths, did G-d place the Children of Israel? Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) quotes from the Talmud: this refers to the Clouds of Glory, which surrounded and protected the Jewish nation during their forty years in the desert.

The holiday of Sukkos reminds us that we are not self-reliant. This is the time of year when people pack up and move inside, and (in agricultural communities) celebrate their good harvest -- like Thanksgiving in the United States. At exactly this time, G-d tells us that we must move out of our homes, and live underneath an all-natural, unfinished roof that doesn't even fully block the sun. Sukkos is a great equalizer -- whether rich or poor, we are all living under the same incomplete roof of "schach."

Instead of celebrating our good fortune, or worrying about a bad crop, we celebrate our unique relationship with HaShem and the protection which He gives us. Like the Jews in the desert, surrounded by the Clouds of Glory, we declare that it is not our houses, our own resources, which sustain us.

While we were sitting in his Sukkah, Rabbi Moshe Silberberg pointed out the following: when the sun is shining, and everything is bright, then we look up -- and it doesn't seem as if there is too much schach. It is there, but we do not recognize it so much. But at night, when things are dark -- that's when you look up, and you really see the schach.

In the best of times, and even more so in the worst, may we always merit to recognize G-d's protection!

A joyous holiday to one and all,

Rabbi Yaakov Menken



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