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Sukkot: The Body's Yom Kippur

Sukkot: The Body's Yom Kippur


Body and soul are an odd couple. Mutually exclusive agendas, no compromises, forced to endure each other. Even when they pursue G‑dliness they can't cooperate: the soul runs away from everything worldly while the body fights to expose the world's inherent holiness; each competes to achieve oneness with G‑d in its way.

Yet, despite or perhaps because of their differences, body and soul learn from each other, and eventually come to find harmony and even friendship.

The body is dragged along like a nine-year-old boy accompanying his mother on a shopping spreeThink about Yom Kippur. The soul loves it and the body naturally hates it. The soul gets to indulge in all its favorite activities, free from any burdens of the body. A whole day of introspection, prayer, and communion with G‑d; no time wasted on eating, drinking, or being social. The poor body is dragged along like a nine-year-old boy accompanying his mother on a shopping spree.

Yet somehow the body makes it through the day and often even finds it enjoyable. The post-Yom Kippur break fast is filled with chatter about how easy it was, "I wasn't even hungry," "No problem," "Piece of cake" (well, maybe that's a poor metaphor). But though the body may have enjoyed this day, it gets a bit envious. "Can I have a day like that," it asks, "when I can indulge in my relationship with G‑d?"

And that is where Sukkot comes in.

In the sukkah, it's primarily about the body. The mitzvah is to sit in the sukkah, eat in the sukkah, drink in the sukkah, hang out in the sukkah. Like the total immersion the soul experiences on Yom Kippur, the body is treated to its own style of all-encompassing surround-sound G‑dliness.

And now the soul is the one coming along for the ride. Sure, studying and praying (soul activities) are encouraged in the sukkah, just as singing and sleeping during the sermon are encouraged on Yom Kippur (just kidding), but the theme of the day is the routine of the body.

Sukkot is what the soul gives the body after the body gave Yom Kippur to the soul.

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Sarah Z Golan Heights October 6, 2014

Awesome Excellent piece. Thank you. Reply

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