Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sukkot: The Need for Continuous Change

When the Jews trekked through the wilderness on their path from slavery to freedom they built and rebuilt temporary structures that facilitated their journey. They needed to do do so in order to keep going forward. Strong and permanent structures would actually have been an impediment.

And so it is with us. We sit in sukkot for seven days to remember that all our structures also are temporary and that we must continually renovate and rebuild them because still today, for we have not yet arrived at the end of our journey. We are still building our home, still creating the future.

The process of perfecting the world is eternal, and any structures that we build, before the final Messianic era, will be, at best, an imperfect and temporary way-station. R. Areih Lev Bronshtein of Yanivka taught, “We must continually tear down and rebuild.”

The Talmudic rabbis too understood this well. They taught that we are partners in the ongoing work of Creation and that it is therefore incumbent upon us to engage in tiqun olam, the repair and rebuilding of the world. Thus, until the very "end of days" when the world will be perfected under God's rule, we will be dwelling in sukkot - in temporary structures. And it behoves us to consciously tear them down and reconstruct them ourselves rather than see them collapse of there own rot.                          

"In sukkot you shall dwell seven days." In sukkot -- because they are temporary structures. Seven days -- until the end of Creation in which we are partners.

"So that your generations will know I am YHWH your God that caused you freedom from slavery in Egypt and to leave Egypt moving forward in temporary structures".

When the Jews confronted the divine while still in slavery, they were compelled to struggle against injustice and for freedom and to leave that oppressive regime. As they moved towards freedom and the building of a new society they began the journey in the wilderness, in a place with no permanent physical or social structures. Each day of their journey they had to reconstruct their dwellings and and reconstruct their lives. As they, and we, continue on the path towards living in a new society, flowing with milk and honey, in which there is liberty and freedom for everyone, they, and we, necessarily live in temporary, fragile, and vulnerable structures that are constantly in need of repair, renewal and reconstruction. Sometimes reconstruction requires tearing down what was there before. This is the lesson for all the generations, not just the generation of the Exodus.

Chag Sukkot Sameach

(adapted from a teaching by Ben Ben Baruch - thanks.)

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