(Originally published in the Jerusalem Post)
by Rabbi Barry Leff
The High Holy Days season starts with Tisha Be’av: we mourn for a broken house – the destroyed Temple – praying and fasting, reminded that the world is also broken.
The holidays end with Succot. We sit in a broken house, but it’s filled with joy, laughter, guests, good food and wine. We do our best to fulfill the commandment of the day: to be happy.
The spiritual meaning of Succot goes far beyond the joy associated with an agriculturally based harvest festival. Succot must be understood as the end point of a spiritual journey that began two months earlier with the mourning of Tisha Be’Av.
As Rabbi Alan Lew, may his memory be for a blessing, taught, it is very appropriate to begin the process of spiritual transformation with the broken house of Tisha Be’av. On that day, we face the fact that not only is the house – meaning the Temple – broken, but we too are broken. It’s been another year and we haven’t healed the world and brought the Messiah.
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