For the week of September 21, 2002 / 15 Tishri 5763
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 22:26 - 23:24; Bemidbar / Numbers 29:12-16
Haftarah: Zechariah 14:1-21


So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Vayikra / Leviticus 23:39-43).

After two weeks of heart preparation through observing Rosh Hashanah (The New Year or Festival of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the nation of Israel was ready for a week-long thanksgiving celebration called Sukkot - or in English, Booths - so-called because of the temporary dwellings that the Israelites were to live in during the duration of the festival.

We are told that the reason why the Israelites were to live in this type of dwelling instead of their regular permanent homes was so that they, as God said, "will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt" (23:43).

It is interesting that this great harvest thanksgiving celebration was not to be held in normal, comfortable, well protected homes. Most of don't think of camping as the best environment for feasting and celebrating. We would rather be surrounded by those things which we have worked so hard to acquire and that provide us with the comfort we so enjoy.

But this was the time to be reminded that our protection and comfort don't actually come from the things of our own creation. God is our protector and provider. So even though having a home to live in and other things that make living in this world a little more tolerable are good, it is times like Sukkot that help us realize who is really taking care of us.

The fact is that we are actually all very vulnerable. Without the loving care of God in our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not, we would not survive. The things that we accumulate often deceive us into thinking that our lives depend on them, when, in fact, it is the Unseen One who is really taking care of us.

It is too bad that it is often only when we are forced into situations where our natural protective systems are removed that we realize how vulnerable we really are. Sukkot teaches us that we are not as dependant upon those things as we tend to think. If God took care of the Israelites in the wilderness, can he not take care of us in vulnerable situations?

We donít need to wait for Sukkot to learn this. Often God will lead us into situations that demonstrate these same principles. We find ourselves in times of great need, where nothing we currently possess is sufficient to help us. Every time we face situations like that, we have the opportunity to discover the sufficiency of God, or else we strive to resolve our predicaments through human means. Other options are to blame others or to complain. However we handle it, these are the times that God wants to prove himself to us, if we would let him.

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