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Chag Sukkot Sameach

October 02, 2020
By Adam TIlove

One of my favorite commandments in Judaism comes when G-d describes our duties in celebrating Sukkot. In Deuteronomy 16:14, G-d tells us, “And you shall be joyous in your holiday, you, your son, and your daughter, your man-servant, and your maid-servant, the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, that are within your gates.”  

It is such an odd commandment! While it is clear how we can be commanded to do something, how can we be commanded to feel something? As a parent one can say, “Get in the car, we are leaving!” and expect results. But we can’t very well say, “You will enjoy going to the dentist or else!” Nevertheless, this is exactly what G-d commands of us! 

To make matters even stranger, we are commanded to make others feel happy too. It’s our duty to feel happy and to make those around us feel happy - from those closest to us (our children) and moving outwards to those in the periphery of our lives - the stranger, the orphan and the widow.  

As strange as this mitzvah is, it is a mitzvah. Not only is it a good deed, it is “commanded” upon us. No matter how one might feel at the time - scared or brave, worried or carefree, discontent or satisfied - the mitzvah is the same: We have to get happy; how do we achieve this?

The good news is, the Torah gives us a simple formula for success. Becoming joyous and making others joyous is as simple as being together and eating in huts (Sukkot)!  We spend time outdoors, feeling the crispness of the weather, enjoying the changing of the leaves, and taking pride in having built a pretty little hut.

This Sukkot is a little different than most. In normal years we take pride in having visitors in our Sukkot. I suspect that there will be far fewer visits this year than usual. But no matter, we will find ways to be joyous. And here is a little help:

Yesterday, Johnson County released updated gating criteria based on their new understanding of the risks involved with opening school. This will undoubtedly affect our own operating procedures in a way that could allow our Lower School students to be in school more often! We are busy reviewing the new criteria, and adapting our own school’s gating criteria to the new standards. Know that we are working on it, and we hope to share good news with you next week!

I wish everyone a Chag Sukkot Sameach - your holiday should be full of happiness and joy for you, your children, and everyone with whom you come in contact.

With warm regards,
Adam Tilove