We will soon all gather to begin the holiday season. Due to the divisiveness within which we are living, it seems somewhat more difficult to make teshuvah, the turning required to wipe away the sins of our past year. It seems so much easier to be able to blame someone else this year for our difficulties, for our failings, for our discontent. Perhaps more than in other years that is why we really need to come together and pray as a community, be a community, know we are part of a community despite our differences.
While Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur focus us on the ‘me’, they are followed quickly by Sukkot, a definite ‘us’ holiday. In fact, Sukkot not only helps to focus on ‘us’, but brings the joy of the renewal, of freshness experienced at Yom Kippur into full measure.
We remember the blessings of annanim kavod, the clouds of glory that accompanied us through the desert; our clothing and foot garments never wore out and we were protected from the elements of nature. This was the blessing we received when Moshe Rabbeinu received the second set of Esert HaDibrot, the Tablets of Commandments. In return, we begin the year performing a mitzvah. We build and dwell in a Sukkah. So anxious was the Maharil to perform this mitzvah, he had the custom of beginning the building of the Sukkah the night after Yom Kippur. We open our temporary shelters to guests, both ancestral and contemporary.
Inside the Sukkah, we lift and shake the Lulav, the four species. The Bahir compares these species to human anatomy and our senses. Hadas (myrtle) is the eye that we must keep open against hate, bigotry and bribery. Aravah (willow) are the lips with which we may speak out for justice. The Etrog (citron) is the heart so that we feel compassion, love and empathy. The Lulav (palm) is the spine, that we be straight and strong, to serve as God’s loyal and grateful people. In bringing the four species together and shaking them in all six directions, we are reaching out, pointing a way, to promote the recognition of divinity in relationships, in community and among communities.
With the rising hatred in the world, may this be the year the Sukkah brings people together for rejoicing. Ken yihi ratzon. So may it be God’s will.
From my family to yours, wishing you a joyous, healthy new year.
L’Shanah Tovah Umetukah
 Yaakov ben Moshe Levi Moelin, Talmudist of German Jews whose minhagim was a source for the Shulchan Arukh.
 Bahir or Sefer HaBahir is an anonymous mystical work, attributed to a 1st-century rabbinic sage Nehunya ben HaKanah
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Community educator, choreographer, composer, performer, Becker, M.S.W., M.Ed., M.R.S., Ph.D., serves as rabbi for Temple Emanuel-Pueblo, cellist for Apples and Honey and is a Storahtelling Maven.
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WOMEN OF THE WALL http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/12/22/world/middleeast/100000001969698/women-at-the-western-wall.html