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Shabbat Hol Hamoed Sukkot 5777

This Shabbat is Shabbat Hol Hamoed, the Shabbat that occurs within the Festival of Sukkot. We read a selection from the Book of Exodus which includes the Mitzvah of keeping the Holidays, Shabbat, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.

It is also customary to read the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) on this Shabbat. Kohelet is presented as an autobiography of Kohelet - according to some he was King Solomon.

There are many messages in this book. Kohelet, who lived a full life and supposedly experienced everything and had done everything, comes to the conclusion that everything is 'Hevel Havalim', 'Vanity of vanities', because death treats everyone the same. However, the journey is important. The Book concludes with the teaching that we should fear G-d and do what is right.

This book is appropriate to be read on Sukkot. That is the time when we are told to leave our permanent dwellings and go and live in a temporary hut, called a Sukkah. Our sages compared a human being's life to a Sukkah. The Sukkah is frail and exposed to the elements of wind and storms. So it is with every human being. We are frail, we face many challenges as we go through life. There are great moments of joy and fulfillment but also illness and sorrow. The Sukkah's main lesson is to remember that nothing is permanent. Our very existence in this world, just like the Sukkah, is very temporary - the same message as is found in Kohelet.

There is also a positive lesson from the Sukkah. While it is preferable to have a Sukkah that has four walls, a Sukkah with three and even two and a half is also acceptable and kosher to be used on this festival. Like the Sukkah, we do not have to be perfect. We may not be privileged to have all four walls in our life; i.e., health, stability, material possessions, intellectual abilities, success, great friends, etc. The Sukkah is Kosher even with two and a half walls. We must enjoy whatever abilities we have, even if life is not perfect, remembering that life in this world is very temporary.

If we can learn to enjoy whatever we have been endowed with, and do the best with whatever we have, we will live a fulfilled life, because Sukkot is the Festival of joy and happiness. We are commanded to be happy and satisfied. That is what the Sukkah teaches us. Enjoy whatever you have and share your joy with your family, your friends, and your community.

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameah,

Avram