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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Sukkot: It's a Balancing Act

As I have been recording what I have been doing on Wednesday mornings at the KI minyan, I'd like to record this exercise that I am doing this week on this week's Torah portion, which mentions the holidays of the Jewish year.

1. In your mind recall a time you have needed shelter. An occasion such as getting caught in a storm or being involved with an experience that you needed physical, monetary, or spiritual shelter. What was the feeling you experienced when you were in need? How did you feel when shelter was offered? Was it difficult to take that offer of shelter? Go back a week or go back years, but try to find a specific example that you recall. 2. In your mind recall a specific time that you have provided someone with shelter; it could be hospitality, it could be shelter from a storm, it could be helping someone to improve their lives, it could be offering someone a place at your table who has no place to go. Go back a week or go back years but find a specific recollection. What was the feeling that went along with offering someone shelter? *************************************************************************************** All Jewish holidays have nicknames. I especially love Sukkot's nickname which is Z'man Simchateynu, the time of our joy. What a fabulous way to celebrate a holiday! Sitting in the sukkah, enjoying the simple joy of gazing at the stars through the foliage above us and enjoying time with old friends and family over good food. What could be better or more nurturing to our social selves.

Maybe there is something more. I'd love to suggest that there is a direct relationship between the concepts of providing shelter and the concept of joy.

There is the joy and relief of being sheltered and there is the joy of being able to offer that shelter and relief to others. At some points in our lives we all need both. We have to be prepared to give and take, to share both the joys and the sorrows, both the plenty and the famine. This is the joy of giving and the joy of taking. The balance is continually changing over our lifetime, from giving to taking.

As we approach this holiday of Sukkot, this holiday of just joy, nothing else, let's go into it mindful of the balance between our need for shelter and ability to offer shelter to others. Reflect on those moments in your life when you were offered shelter and the joy that you have felt when you gave shelter and pay it forward by continuing to offer it to others.

Wishing you a joyous Sukkot.

ופרש עלינו סכת של

ופרש עלינו סכת שלומך

And spread over us a Sukkah of Peace

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