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Gimme Shelter: Yachad's Blog

Occasional Thoughts for Shabbat…

presented by Rabbi Batya Glazer

Z’man Simchataynu – Sukkot the Festival of Booths.

On this festival we remember when we lived in fragile dwellings in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt, and we celebrate with joy! One of the central mitzvot of the holiday is for each person to spend the holiday living, as much as possible, in a temporary structure.  A sukkah, roofed by branches, stalks, bamboo or other natural material leaves us exposed to the elements.

“You shall live in huts seven day; all citizens of Israel shall live in huts, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in huts when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God.”  Leviticus 23:42, 43

We joyously celebrate our dependence on God and our understanding of our own vulnerability.  We recognize the ultimate impermanence of our world.  Experiencing these spiritual lessons and truths helps us better understand our fundamental responsibility to those who live with a daily awareness of their vulnerability and instability.  To those for whom a temporary structure, has been their permanent reality.

The mitzvah of Kavod haBriyot, to preserve the honor and dignity of God’s creation, insists that it is imperative that each of us is responsible to guard the honor of every other human being.  As God has created us in His image, b’Tzelem Elohim, respect for others reflects our respect for our own Creator.

Many of our neighbors live in unsafe homes, homes in need of repair, homes that are inaccessible. Yachad works to ensure that these individuals have safe homes where they can live with dignity, and gives each of us an opportunity to fulfill this mitzvah by supporting their work. We can appreciate the security we feel when the plumbing and the lights work. Each of us can imagine what a difference it can make in a person’s life when a simple fix creates a hand rail that makes it possible to shower, a ramp that makes it possible to go outside, or a new carpet that makes it easier to breathe.

As we celebrate Sukkot with a sense of joy despite, or even because of, the impermanence of our lives, may we be grateful for the chance to give others the dignity that is due to each of us.

Hag Sameach v’Moadim l’Simcha – A Joyous Festival of Sukkot!

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