All the Jewish holidays are times of rejoicing, but only Sukkos is specifically known as “the time of our rejoicing.” The special joy of Sukkos is connected to the extra measure of closeness to God we feel as we leave our fixed, permanent dwellings to spend a week in an impermanent structure, with no fixed roof over our heads.
That miniature exile, explains Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, leads to a negation of the material world (bitul hayesh) and paves the way for a greater closeness to God. The sukkah is a reminder of the Clouds of Glory that protected our ancestors in a howling wilderness, and helps us feel God’s enveloping love.
THE ENTIRE WORLD is currently experiencing its own form of negation of the material, though few have been heard expressing much rejoicing . World stock exchanges are crashing, and the retirement nests that millions had squirreled away in “safe” pension plans are disappearing. The only question according to many economists is whether we are on the cusp of a worldwide recession or depression.
Already the meltdown in financial markets has had major consequences. Two of the world’s leading investment banks have bit the dust, and the rest are being reorganized on a completely new footing. The American presidential election, which was a dead heat three weeks ago, increasingly looks like it will end in a Obama rout, though he has given no indication of any economic understanding and even though one of the causes of the crisis was the pressure placed on banks by Democratic legislators to offer mortgages to non-creditworthy home purchasers. (By speaking more frequently and impulsively, McCain has removed any doubts about his own grasp of economics.)
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"This generation's Hillel." (Nathan Cofnas)