Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)
Parashah: Vayikra (Leviticus) 22:26-23:44
Maftir: Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:12-16
Haftarah: Zechariah 14:1-21
Life is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? We have so much to be thankful for, yet we tend to spend much of our time focusing on what’s not going “right” instead of being grateful for all the good things.
Tonight at sundown, we will begin the celebration of Sukkot, which is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. There is much to write about this very special appointed time, but I would like to focus on one of the lesser-known elements of Sukkot, which is gratitude.
In the special reading from Leviticus 22:29-33 we read:
When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until morning. I am the LORD. So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the LORD. And you shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the LORD.”
Understanding that the Creator of the universe delivered us from slavery in Egypt in order to be our God is something to be very thankful for! He did not deliver us and free us so that we can live however we want. He did this for us to be in relationship with Him and live our lives within the framework that He has given us. We belong to Him!
As we continue to read in Leviticus 23:39-53, we find another reminder of gratitude in connection to Sukkot:
On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and branches of trees with thick branches and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. So you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a permanent statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’”
The gathering of the crops of the Land is a great reminder that everything that we have is from God and for Him. The act of sitting in the Sukkah (Booth) and indeed as you travel throughout Israel today, you will see many of them all over the Land, is a great reminder that God not only delivered us from slavery in Egypt, but also provided everything during our time in the desert.
As I reflect upon this special appointed time, living in the Land of promise, I am thankful that just like the children of Israel of the past, God delivered me from slavery and gave me the freedom to live within His framework. I am also aware that just like the children of Israel dwelled in temporary homes (sukkot) during their time in the wilderness, so am I here on this earth in my temporary home, knowing that it is God who provides everything for me.
I am looking forward to the day when He will return to this earth to establish His everlasting Kingdom, and will dwell in His city, Jerusalem, where all His followers will come to offer an everlasting sacrifice of Thanksgiving:
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of armies, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
Hag Sameach (Happy Holiday) and Shabbat Shalom,
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