From Fasting to Feasting

After cleansing our souls on Yom Kippur, Jews celebrate wholeness and spontaneity during the festival of Sukkot


10/29/2008 08:40:26 PM

How does a sukkah work if one does not have a place to create one--say, if one lives in an apartment? I always wondered about this.


10/19/2005 02:59:25 PM

eastcoast: I probably meant to use the word Midrash. Midrash are stories and homilies that make a point but are not factually true, they are used for teaching. There are entire collections of Midrah. The Talmud is a collection of oral discussions of the sages which were structured around the Mishna. The Mishna is a collection of legal decisions which site both the majority and minority view. The Talmud contains among other things medical cures, commercial advice, tales about individuals, philosophical and historical inquiries, Midrash, in short many topic that came up in discussion that were not legal or normative. Aggadah includes all parts of the Talmud which are non-normative in nature and were therefore not subject to any final, definitive ruling.


10/19/2005 10:36:35 AM

Please tell me what "aggadic" means.


10/18/2005 02:55:49 PM

Chuck:I have nothing against aggadic material. It is just that there is so much within the actual text that is not understood. Sacrificial worship had a very strong hold on all peoples. The connection with the seasonal and life cycles is so natural and appealing yet is all but forgotten by moderns. The evolution of sacrifice from appeasing arbitrary gods with blood or bribes to a single unified world with a God that demanded service to others and that we should love our neighbors was a giant step for mankind. The synagogue service if understood is linked to the temple ritual. Jews have allowed this universal symbol, a house of God for all people, to be buried in aggada.


10/18/2005 02:45:52 PM

Spinner: All sacrificial worship has pagan roots. Judaism although monotheistic did not change the agricultural year or seasons which ancient peoples were so aware of and dependent on. Judaism eliminated the concept of giving life or blood to appease arbitrary gods. In its stead the concept that God required service of the heart and mind was substituted. Also Judaism consolidated all the independent gods and their whimsical behavior into one predictable God who controls all of nature. God’s qualities as a “judge” were also emphasized. The service that God demanded was social and economic justice within our society. Ethical monotheism was born. The traditional synagogue service is patterned on the temple service. Judaism is an historic religion and am unbroken chain from civilizations beginnings. To me this is its attraction.


10/18/2005 02:45:27 PM

As my beloved and i build our first Sukkah, I am reminded of preparing for our wedding; making our Huppah, decorating the Shul for the celebration. The joy that filled our lives then....and now.


10/18/2005 02:28:21 PM

Living: While it's true that there's nothing in the Torah with what the Rabbi said, there is a wealth of aggadic material with some pretty interesting interpretations of Torah. Yes, I know that aggadah is not to be taken as binding positions or interpretations, but nonetheless we shouldn't a priori look down our noses at homiletical interpretations.


10/18/2005 02:23:37 PM

I enjoyed a lovely sukkot service last Sunday with my kids. Building a sukkah on a blustery fall day, was wonderful. But there are aspects of the sukkot service that felt a little bit pagan to me...does anyone know if any of the rituals are pagan in their roots?


10/17/2005 11:16:50 AM

I liked what the Rabbi had to say about wholeness and being One with G-D. He seems to be very spiritual and can read the Torah and examine the holiday and find a deep, meaningful, universal, spiritual truth that is often missed.


10/16/2005 04:05:53 PM

correction - the model is NOT literal -


10/16/2005 04:05:05 PM

Chuck: Pick up the Torah and read the passages. There is no mention of most of what the Rabbi said. What is explicitly written is more universal and historical. I agree about the importance of mysticism. Jewish Theosophy is actually rational if you understand it. Kabala uses images to build a model of God in creation. One must remember that the model is leteral. It has a very strong emotional pull. I am all in favor of popularizing Kaballa, even if Madana is the one doing it. Adein Steinsaltz has written some very good books on the subject. Gershom Schloam has written academic works on Jewish Mysticism. This does not change the fact that the author’s interpretations, although quite common, were very particularistic and had no basis in fact. They had nothing to do with Jewish Theosophy or Mysticism either. I find them unappealing.


10/16/2005 02:25:57 PM

Perhaps one of the things we need to re-attach ourselves to the teachings is a little less rationalism :-) Don't get me wrong - it was the rational and analytic that allowed Judaism to survive through nearly 2 millenia of exile and privation. But it's the mystical that binds us together.


10/16/2005 01:04:03 PM

The interpretations in the article are homiletical and have little appeal to rational univerally oriented people. The agricultural origins mentioned in the written Torah are universal. It is also called the “Festival of the Ingathering”. The four species are mentioned in an agricultural context. The synagogue service is patterned after Temple practice. It is also called ‘The season of our Rejoicing” which was a very joyful libation offering of water symbolizing the abundant rain for which people prayed. It also contains “The Great Hoshana” which is retained in synagogue worship. It symbolizes the end of one season and the renewal of another. Judaism has the elements and symbols of a great Universal religion. The connection of all people to God’s earth and the cycles of nature is a Universal theme. Identification with the Temple as a house of God for all people is universal. These meanings are natural and historic and appeal to educated people and should be emphasized.