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Three things to keep in mind prior to Shabbat Chol HaMoed

ילד מקשט סוכה
צילום: פלאש90

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

1. This coming Shabbat of Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of Sukkot) does not include reading of this week’s Torah portion. Instead, we read from parashat Ki Tisa in which "the festival of the harvest," meaning Sukkot, is mentioned. There are those who are accustomed to reading Kohelet, the book of Ecclesiastes, as well.

2. This Shabbat still finds us in the Sukkah and eating our meals there. However, we do not hold the four species and shake the lulav on Shabbat. Incidentally, Shabbat observance and dwelling in the Sukkah are two mitzvot in which our entire bodies take part. They are not mitzvot confined to the hands, as when lighting Shabbat or holiday candles, nor to the arms and head, as when putting on tefillin. We enter Shabbat as we enter the Sukkah, completely enveloped by each.

3. And here is something to think about. Each day of Sukkot, it is customary to invite into our Sukkah one of the ushpizin (supernal guests) — Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya’akov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef, or David. When we examine the life stories of these fathers of the nation, we see that they never ceased to encounter persecution and crises. And yet, despite their struggles and wanderings, each one of them built an exemplary life for himself. Avraham Avinu did not wait for his troubles to end, but established the Jewish faith despite the tumultuous events that surrounded him. King David, despite all the wars he had to fight, wrote the book of Psalms.

They did not postpone everything until "after the crisis." They understood that life is happening now within the maelstrom. More than this, perhaps it was precisely because of the challenges they faced that they were able to grow and flourish to such a remarkable extent.

We can much learn from the Ushpizin about our own lives and the potential that lies within adversity.

Shabbat shalom.


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