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Sukkot: When unity and joyfulness are ever present.

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

We have aspired to unity and joyfulness since our nation was born. These aspirations are brought to the forefront of our attention on the holiday of Sukkot.

As we learned in kindergarten a long time ago, unity is found in the four species of plants that we wave together on Sukkot. They have either smell or taste or both or neither one, but all must be held together. They represent the different types of Jews who comprise the nation of Israel. Just as the mitzvah of lulav requires all four species, the nation of Israel cannot do without the presence of each kind of Jew. We may show division on the outside as we fiercely argue among ourselves, but we also know that ultimately, on the inside, we still need each other.

And what about joyfulness? Regarding Sukkot it is said: "And you rejoiced on your holiday and were nothing but joyful." The holiday of Sukkot calls upon us to digress from our daily routine and see the world from a historic, yet fresh perspective. To look at our personal and national life through a wider and more optimistic lens.

"In order that future generations may know that I made the children of Israel reside in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt." To be filled with the joy that comes from seeing ourselves as heirs to a glorious past, all we need to do is zoom out and recognize the sukkot we build today as the same sukkot in which we sheltered upon leaving Egypt.

And further proof that this is the time of our rejoicing comes from recent news: Israelis will now be able to travel to the United States without visas; Germany, the nation that tried to destroy the Jewish people, agreed to spend 3.5 billion dollars for an Israeli missile defense system -- the biggest arms sale in Israel's history -- to bolster the military deterrence of Germany and Western Europe; in Saudi Arabia, the first visit by an Israeli cabinet minister took place as a step toward a peace agreement that "gets closer every day," in the words of the Saudis.

Sukkot, 5784, has arrived. Let's pray that the entire nation of Israel experiences more unity and more joyfulness in Sukkot this year than ever before.


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