Thursday, September 19, 2013


Each fall, Jews celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, named after the “huts” the Jewish people lived in during their 40 years in the wilderness. Sukkot begins on the night of the largest full moon of the year, the harvest moon. This year it began at sundown on Friday, October 2, and runs through October 10. As a celebration of the year’s largest harvest, Sukkot reminds us to give thanks. The American Pilgrims understood this biblical significance of Sukkot, and made it the basis for Thanksgiving.

Tradition calls us to “live” for a week in a sukkah (sukkot is the plural form) — a hut, open to the sky, with some leaves for a roof. (Eating meals there can qualify for “living,” especially during inclement weather.) Living in a hut reminds us of our interdependence with nature. Our buildings and vehicles are artificial barriers, which insulate us from so many effects of nature. We succumb to an “edifice complex.” They distract us from our constant interaction with nature, inhibiting us from “smelling the roses.” They limit our awareness of the impact we have on nature, so we don’t deal with pollution, conservation of resources — dying species, sustainable development, diversity of energy resources — global warming, or even adequate preparation for “natural” disasters. Just ask the residents of New Orleans. As we become more aware of interdependence, we accept our stewardship of nature.

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