Sukkot is a beautiful festival of Thanksgiving, while also the conclusion of our penitential season. This is the time of our autumn final harvest (land of Israel) for which we give deep gratitude. At the same time, following the Yamim Noraim, we dwell in our fragile Sukkot, gather together the four species and remember our connection to nature and how all transforms and decays in the physical realm. The words of Kohelet that we read this Shabbat also remind us of our transitory time and how to make life meaningful. Kohelet is known for these among other passges:

“So appreciate your vigour in the days of your youth, before those days of sorrow come and those years arrive of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before sun and light and moon and stars grow dark, and the clouds come back again after the rain:

When the guards of the house. become shaky,

And the men of valour are bent,

And the maids that grind. grown few, are idle,

And the ladies that peer through the windows grow dim,

And the doors to the street are shut—

With the noise of the hand mill growing fainter,

And the song of the bird.growing feebler,

And all the strains of music dying down;

When one is afraid of heights

And there is terror on the road.—

For the almond tree may blossom,

The grasshopper be burdened,-i

And the caper bush may bud again;

But man sets out for his eternal abode,

With mourners all around in the street.—

Before the silver cord snaps

And the golden bowl crashes,

The jar is shattered at the spring,

And the jug is smashed at the cistern.

And the dust returns to the ground

As it was,

And the lifebreath returns to God

Who bestowed it.”

(Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

Ultimately we make life meaningful by enjoying with gratitude our material bounty and in parallel refining the direction of our moral compass. On the seventh day of Sukkot, known as Hoshana Rabba, we officially conclude our penitential season that began on Rosh Chodesh Elul, one month before Rosh Hashana. As we do so, we move forward into the year ahead with deeper appreciation of our connection to nature and deeper consideration of how to be our best selves.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

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