Sukkot is the Jewish/Biblical Harvest Festival. From an agricultural perspective, Sukkot marks the ingathering of produce in the early autumn, marking the end of the main growing season. From a mythic standpoint, Sukkot recalls the narrative of the Israelites dwelling in temporary structures during their 40-year wilderness trek.
Sukkot is a joyful holiday in which we acknowledge the glory of God-in-Nature; but it is also a time to reflect on life’s fragility and our own mortality. The Sukkah, a flimsy temporary dwelling, is a reminder that all things must pass — a fitting message as we take in and enjoy our harvest but also acknowledge that winter is around the corner.
As for any Jewish celebration, food is at the center of the holiday too. You are commanded to eat in the sukkah at least, for the duration of the holiday, if you don’t sleep in it, which we rarely do at this season where we live (North East Coast of the United States).
But rejoicing and celebrating never precludes our obligation to keep thinking of our duties towards those who are hungry, and the more so at a time when we celebrate harvest and the bountiful grace of nature. It is an opportunity for us to remember to be always sustainable, and to give back, to communities who dedicate their effort to helping the poor and the needy.
Tomorrow, our religious school bnei-miztvah students will collect the bags filled with food for the Community Center of Northern Westchester‘s food bank. They will deliver the food and sort everything on the shelves. They will experience the mitzvah of providing for the hungry.