Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holiday of the Booths (Sukkah) starts tonight (10/12/11) and a fun Map of USA Puzzle

Judaism has something for everyone.  If you like to drink, we have Purim.  If you like asceticism or self-denial we have Yom Kippur.  If you like to play with fire, we have Lag B'omer (celebrated with bonfires!)  If you like to dance, we have Simchat Torah, and ... if you like the great outdoors, we have Sukkot!

The mitzvah
of dwelling in the Sukkah teaches us trust in God.  We tend to think that our possessions, our money, our homes, our intelligence will protect us.  During Sukkot we are exposed to the elements in a temporary hut.  Living in a Sukkah puts life into perspective.  Our possessions are transient -- and our corporeal beings are even more transient than our possessions.  Life is vulnerable.  Our history has borne out how transient are our homes and communities.  No matter how well-established, wealthy and "secure" we have become in a host country, in the end it too has been a temporary dwelling.  Our trust must be in G-d.

As King David wrote in Psalms 20:8 "There are those who trust in chariots and those who trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Almighty."  Only the Almighty is the Creator of the world, the Master of history, our personal and caring God Who can be relied upon to help us.

During the Festival of Sukkot when we had our Temple in Jerusalem, 70 offerings were brought -- one for each nation of the world -- so that the Almighty would provide rain for their crops.  The Talmud tells us that if the nations of the world understood the value of what the Jewish people provided them, they would have sent their armies to defend our Temple in Jerusalem to keep it from being destroyed!

Sukkot is one of the Shelosh Regalim, Three Festivals (the other two are Pesach and Shavuot), where the Torah commands everyone living in Israel to leave their homes to come to Jerusalem to celebrate at the Temple.  For the last 2,000 years since the destruction of the Temple, we've been unable to fulfill this mitzvah.

Sukkot starts Wednesday evening, October 12th. Sukkot means "booths."  During the 40 years of wandering in the desert we lived in Sukkot.  We are commanded in the Torah regarding this holiday, "You shall dwell in booths for seven days ... so that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them out of Egypt, I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 23:42-43).  We are commanded to make our Sukkah our main dwelling place -- to eat, sleep, learn Torah and spend our time there. If one would suffer from being in a Sukkah -- i.e., from rain or snow -- or heat and humidity -- he is freed from the obligation to dwell there.  We make, however, every effort to at least eat in the Sukkah -- especially the first night.This year in San Diego, it is going to be 95 degrees in the daytime and 60 at night on Wednesday. In  Fairbanks, Alaska it will be 28 degrees, but they have the same mitzvah.

Love Yehuda

Map of USA Puzzle.. THIS IS NEAT

      Wonder how a high school senior would do on this one?  See how you do in placing the states of the United States of America .

      All you do is look at the top of the page and drag 'n' drop the state to where it belongs.

      Smart map, varies the order of the states' placement with each new try!

      It isn't easy mostly because placing a state in the precise location when it as yet has no boundaries in place is a bit tricky!  No half credit for close...

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