Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What you (don't) need to be happy

Happy Sukkos!

Have you ever wondered about it? It really doesn't seem to make sense.

For 7 days, we effectively move out of home and take up residence in a makeshift booth. During the day, it's swelteringly hot and at night chilly-to-cold or rainy. In the northern hemisphere, it's freezing.

So here's what seems to make no sense: The Yom Tov that's celebrated by scooping palm bits from your drink and swatting flies/bees/mozzies, while balancing on a rock-hard plastic chair that's teetering on an uneven floor- is called the festival of our rejoicing.

Wouldn't it have made more sense to reserve this title for Pesach, when you recline on a plump cushion and have someone else pour your drink?

How can the Torah expect us to leave our creature comforts and still be happy? Not just happy- the Torah says this is the festival when we must be happy 24/7 for 7 days (Ach Sameach in the original Hebrew).

Well actually, that's the point.

We have been convinced by TV talk-shows, glossy magazines, therapists and retailers that "if we have _____", we will be happy. It's a fundamentally wrong attitude.

Torah wants us to realize- and to experience first hand for one week a year- that you don't need anything to be really happy. In fact, you could be totally happy in a rickety home, exposed to the elements- secure in the knowledge that Hashem is looking after you and looking out for you.

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