Monday, 12 December 2011

Did You Keep Your New Year's Resolution?

by Moss, Rabbi (See all authors)

Question of the Week:


Why do we celebrate the festival of Sukkos immediately after Yom Kippur? Wouldn't it be better to space out these festivals? Or is there some connection between fasting on Yom Kippur and eating in an outdoor hut for a week?

Answer:

The first thing we do in the new year is make resolutions. The second thing we do is break them. At a moment of inspiration we promise to curb our temper, become more generous, speak to G-d more or quit a bad habit. But soon after we go back to our old ways as if nothing happened. Often a sincere resolution is forgotten as quickly as it was made.

The reason: compartmentalization. Our personalities are divided. We have a holy soul, and we have a physical body. My soul has good intentions and wants to change and improve and grow, but my body is lazy and complacent and can't be bothered.

On Yom Kippur I put my body aside and feel my soul, and so I want to soar to new spiritual heights. After Yom Kippur my body reasserts itself, and the yearnings of the soul are forgotten. My soul suggests a resolution; my body vetoes it.

The solution: enter a Sukkah. We sit in the Sukkah with our entire being - our body and our soul, our lowly side as well as our lofty side. It is one of the only mitzvos that we do with our whole person. And what do we do in the Sukkah? We eat and drink.

Unlike Yom Kippur, when it is a mitzvah to fast and ignore the body, on Sukkos the mitzvah is to indulge the body with food and drink in the Sukkah. On Yom Kippur we neglect our body to allow the soul's true nature to shine forth; on Sukkos we invite our body to join in and be inspired too. On Yom Kippur we see the body as being an impediment to the soul; on Sukkos, by bringing our entire being into the holy space of the Sukkah, and doing a mitzvah with our body, the body becomes a partner to the soul. Then the good resolutions of the soul can be implemented by the body.

The Sukkah experience is one of wholesomeness. By making the body a partner in our soul's enterprise, our resolve from Yom Kippur can be translated into reality. Don't miss out on this festival, the one that brings the High Holydays down to earth.

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