Tonight begins the week-long festival of Sukkot. As we move from the comfort of our homes to temporary structures called sukkot, for dining, relaxing, and perhaps sleeping, we are exposed to the elements and. We become aware each year of how fragile and temporary all of our structures are, and how precious our lives. On Sukkot, we recall our journey through the wilderness. It was a journey not just from Egypt to Israel, but from slavery to freedom, from a group of people to Peoplehood.
This year, in the wake of three devastating hurricanes, I am grateful for the home that I have, which is standing. I recall the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, of Hurricane Katrina, of Hurricane Sandy, and I know it will take years to recover. I only have to wait a week.
In the wake of a horrific mass murder, I am grateful to return to my home each day, to spend time with my family. I will not take them for granted, and I will focus on sh’lom bayit, peace in my home.
In the wake of civil discord, I am grateful to live in a country where it is permitted to speak one’s mind, even when others, including leaders, disagree. Rabbi Tarfon said that it is not our duty to complete the task, but we are not free to stop trying. We must work together to build and rebuild.
May we use the time of festival, also called “zmah simchatenu,” the season of our joy, to try to spread joy and understanding, mutual respect and joint responsibility.