“Break forth into singing, , O forest, and every tree therein; for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, (from Sin)and doth glorify Himself in Israel.” Isiah 44:23
When I was in high School, I had to take Euclidian Geometry. I did not do well because as I learned later, Geometry is an exercise in step by step thinking. We all know sometimes I don’t think in steps but in jumps. One of my teacher’s PET SAYINGS WAS. “You are not seeing the forest because of the trees”. He also said to me, “If it wasn’t for the New York State regents exam grade, (I got an 84), I would have failed you”, but that’s for another day.
Anyway, I was thinking about the month of Tishrei and how during the month of holidays we lose sight of the spiritual forest because we spend too much time on the trees. Will I be able to fast, will I stay awake in Temple, we I build a Sukkah?
All these thoughts lose sight of what the holidays really stand for! Yom Kippor is Jewish Independence day. Why? Because at the end of the day we will be free! Free of sin, free of regret, free to be ourselves. Just like America had to, now we have to fight a war to get our freedom. What a war it is! It is especially severe because it is a war with ourselves. We want to do the right thing, live, love and let ourselves have a life of goodness. However, we judge, jest and joke (at other’s expense) and do things that attack the souls. This in turn wounds our soul! The guilt is sometimes overwhelming!
Sukkot, five days later is not only a holiday about a temporary house. It is about inviting guests out of the wilderness into shelter. How is Burbank or North Hollywood or West Hills, considered to be a wilderness? Certainly not a geographical wilderness but a wilderness of spirit. By inviting ancient leaders of Jewish history as well as contemporaries, you are making the Sukkah a source of civilization or at least civility. You are also beginning this new year with purity, developing soul structure based on the positive of Mitzvoth (good deeds) and rejecting the negative of Aveeroth (baseless dislike). Once again, why allow the ‘tree’ of “Why do we have to invite those people over?” block out the full Lucius vegetation of sharing one’s life and family with another beautiful product of creation. As settlements in early America were seen as oases for weary travelers passing over mountains and fording serious streams and rivers, we now, in 5780, must open our Sukkoth and, if we have no Sukkah, our homes, to weary spiritual travelers who have had trials and tests they have had to overcome to rejoin community. Allowing them to partake of our bounty will enable them to be able to be in the forest of our homes, in G-d’s country.
At the end of Sukkot is Yizkor followed by Simchat Torah. Both of those services deal with death. In the first service we remember those we care about who have left us. A short time later we relive the death of Moses our greatest Prophet. IMMEDIATELY after that, we read about the Creation of the world. We could dwell on the details of both services, but what strikes me is that we leave the barrenness of Death for the luscious description of a world which in fact went from ‘Void And without order’ to ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill out the land and you will rule over the animals of the land, the sea and the air’.
To create the world we desire, we must replace the disorder and chaos brought about by the sins of demeaning others with creative acts that germinate new ‘spiritual vegetation’.
Do not allow the trees of negativity to block our sight of the forest of love and creativity!
B’Ahava v’Gamar Hatimah Tova (May you have a good Sealing),