An idea for Sukkot

This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah for her neshama. 

By Shayna Hulkower

It's holiday season, if you are Jewish. The 'High Holidays' of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are barely behind us, but already we come to our next festival: Sukkot. Without looking at a calendar, one always knows Sukkot is approaching by the increasing number of Sukkas (plural being Sukkot) popping up in Jewish neighborhoods all over the world. Even though Sukkot only happens once a year, it's actually with us every night, whether we realize it or not!

Every night, in the evening, maariv, prayers, we ask G-d to spread over us His 'sukkah of peace'? Rabbi Dessler writes that sukkot are temporary dwelling places - mere huts that are transient in nature and a reminder that we are only in this world temporarily. Sukkot are the antithesis of everything society tends to value: expensive vacations, luxury goods, expensive restaurant meals. All things that feel nice, but as the old saying goes, "You can't take it with you".  All material success in this world, while not to diminish its importance in life, is transient in nature and causes strife amongst people. There is the need to feel like you are 'keeping up with the Jones' - your neighbors have a new car so it's natural to want a new car too. You see people on television with large homes and of course who wouldn't want more space. But the longing for things we don't have breeds jealousy and contempt, which ultimately erode friendships.

Rav Dessler explains the 'sukkah of peace' is a principle where we all value spiritual and intangible things in life. It says in Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of Our Fathers, that one is not allowed to be envious of anything except if another has more Torah learning than him. You are allowed to be envious of things that are within your control and cause you to be a better person. Ultimately, money is a transient thing, coming and going often within a person's lifetime. When we value things like a person's selfless quality, hard working ethic, honesty, or other positive character traits, they similarly inspire us to want to do better in those areas. When we all are striving to be better people, not only does everyone succeed, but we are able to live in a sukkah of peace with each other. Chag sameach!

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