The festival of Sukkot in which we find ourselves in is known as “Z’man Simchateinu”, the time of our rejoicing.
15th-century Jewish-Portuguese philosopher Don Isaac Abravanel outlines Sukkot as seven days of pure joy, based upon our biblical commandment to have nothing but happiness at this festival (Deuteronomy 16:13-15). Originally, this is because Sukkot was when all of the crops had been harvested and gathered, so the people had time to revel in Jerusalem and the celebratory atmosphere during this pilgrimage, rather than hurrying back to their fields.
So, I wanted to give us seven good reasons to be joyful as we look towards the end of the High Holy Days and anticipate the good year to come:
- We still have Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah! Join us over this coming weekend. Our Shabbat Morning/Yom Tov Service will include breakout rooms for our Littlest Blossoms, and our Simchat Torah celebrations will involve cookie baking and flag decorating for all in attendance, including the children – in case dancing with the Torah wasn’t reason enough to come along!
- Our next Shabbat Morning Family Service is next Saturday, 14 October, at 10:30 am.
- Our Pet Blessing, in honour of Parashat Noach, is Sunday 15 October, from 11:30 am. Bring your best furry friend along for a morning of engaging in the mitzvah of tsa’ar ba’alei chayyim, caring for our animal friends.
- Rabbi Professor Dalia Marx, an esteemed scholar and one of my teachers from rabbinical school, will be our scholar-in-residence next Shabbat, 13-14 October. We encourage you to learn with her and from her as she visits our good city, all the way from Jerusalem.
- Orly Erez-Lichovski, Executive Director of IRAC (Israel Religious Action Centre), will be with us on October 18, 7:00 pm at Holy Blossom. Her leading voice is important to hear from as we continue to support Israel and her democracy in this hour of need.
- We are excited for the official launch of HaTzipporim, our new Empty Nesters initiative, with a casual L’chayim following Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday, October 20.
- Finally, Dorot will have their Fall Launch on Tuesday, October 24, at 11:30 am, with a very special Yiddish Cabaret performance by Concerts in Care Ontario. The Dorot program is generously sponsored by Carole and Jay Sterling and Family.
Abravanel concludes by stating that the commandment to “have nothing but joy” is an assurance that, if one is gladdened on Sukkot, they will be happy and kindhearted throughout the year.
May it therefore be, for each of us and our loved ones, a year of many opportunities for happiness, gladness and fulfilment.