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Sukkot—a holiday meant to bring people together—has begun. It comes as we look forward to the kabbalistic New Year. We’ve had time to reflect, to ask forgiveness, and to connect to the Light of the Creator. Now it’s time for us to connect to each other and be the kindness we hope to see in the world.
We know that those closest to us play an important role in our spiritual growth. Indeed, the relationships we have with our partners, family members, and longtime friends continuously spark opportunities to change for the better. However, we often overlook our neighbors and community members. Ask yourself, how much kindness do you share with the assistant in your child’s classroom, the grocery store clerk, or the man who cleans your office? Sukkot offers us a unique spiritual opening to expand our “tribe” and deepen our connection to others.
Traditionally, we celebrate this holiday by erecting a sukkah—a temporary shelter that resembles a hut—in honor of the Israelites who wandered the desert for forty years. For seven days and seven nights, we convene under the sukkah to share food, recite blessings, and enjoy good company. But the spiritual significance of Sukkot goes deeper than good food and good company. With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur behind us, we are meant to connect and reconnect to each other at this time. As we do, we collectively strengthen our spiritual community.
This tradition reminds us that we are all in this together. You may not agree with someone's politics or worldview, but quite often you share more commonalities than differences. Though our motives and paths are unique to our experiences, we can all work together to create lasting peace in this world.
“There’s no question that the brutality and violence erupting all over the world at this time is pretty dark and almost incomprehensible. Still, now as always, there is polarity in the cosmos: Just as there is potential for tremendous growth and Light, there is also potential for great negativity. The brighter the Light available, the darker the darkness.
For each and every one of us personally, this energy provides us with the challenges to change our behavior so that our free choice will never be compromised. We will have the opportunity to choose kindness, to choose love, to choose to find the silver lining. In any given moment, we can decide to be the pebble that falls into the water, creating ripples of Light that extend far beyond ourselves. Now, more than ever, the world needs this from us, and we need it, as well.”
When we share a meal under the sukkah, we open ourselves up to true connection with others. Sukkot is the doorway to expanding our love for our community and for humanity as a whole. Kabbalists teach us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is not simply a saying to instill peace between strangers. It is a core teaching of Kabbalah that challenges us to grow. Sukkot gives us a chance to live out this teaching.
We are always meant to share and express kindness in everything we do, both in our interactions with individuals and with the world as a whole. However, the energy that surrounds us during Sukkot is the very essence of kindness and sharing. By living and acting in accordance with this energy, we create a connection to the Light that offers kindness and sharing back to us.
This is the way we are meant to live, in a global community built on kindness. Together, we become stronger, collectively increasing the Light surrounding us. But the opposite is also true. When we submit to our egos and become judgmental, we not only rob ourselves of Light and blessings, but we negatively affect everyone in our community, including those who are meant to share with us. Judgment builds a wall between us. Sukkot is a time to take down walls, open our arms, and see that we are stronger together than we are apart.
The Light of Sukkot is only available at this time of the year, but the blessings we create through kindness and sharing last all year. In truly loving our neighbors as ourselves, we create a year of blessings to be shared by all.