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United We Sit

United We Sit

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Every holiday has a theme. And as is the case with everything Jewish, the nature of that theme is up for debate…

Some will classify Rosh Hashanah as the day when we reelect G‑d; others will define it as the "head of the year," when we make positive resolutions for the coming year. Preaching at the pulpit, one rabbi will title Yom Kippur as the "day of atonement," while his colleague down the block will categorize it as the day when the soul is at one with G‑d.

And they are all correct. Each holiday is multifaceted and can be tackled from as many angles as there are minds. Each Torah law has many explanations, each custom many reasons, and each holiday its own subjective meaning for each individual.

Atonement and oneness are branches of the same treeNot only are all the approaches true, but in essence they are all the same. Atonement and oneness are braches of the same tree. On Yom Kippur G‑d shines His countenance on the world; this automatically erases all sins, and unites us with G‑d. If you dig deep and delve into the details of each holiday, you will find an underlying theme common to all approaches.

Sukkot is no different. You need look no further than the Sukkot study section on this site to see the exemplification of "no two think alike." Different writers tackle the same issue – be it the Four Kinds, the sukkah, the joy, the unity – but each article has its uniqueness, its message, its character. No two are the same.

But at a second – deeper – glance, all the angles can be traced back to one unifying core: Unity. At the core of this holiday is the quest for oneness.

Let's take a look.

We bind four different types of vegetation, each representing a type of Jew, or a specific mode of serving G‑d, and shake them together. Unity.

We all sit in the sukkah, unsheltered by our fancy houses and imaginary elitism, everybody squeezing together on a cranky old bench, while leaves fall into the soup and the cold chills us to the bone (okay, I overdid it a bit…). Unity.

We dance together at the Simchat Bet Hasho'evah, my sweaty hand locked in your sweaty hand, no one more important than the other, all joining in the collective joy of "one nation under one G‑d." Unity.

We dance together at the Simchat Bet Hasho'evah, my sweaty hand locked in your sweaty handThousands of Chabad rabbis and students go out to the streets in Sukkah Mobiles to meet fellow Jews and offer them the opportunity to shake the Four Kinds ("Please don't shake them too hard!"), grab a bite in the sukkah, and just have a nice friendly chat ("You're from Australia? How awesome! I have a cousin there. Do you know him?"). Unity.

At the core of the almost seven billion human beings walking the beautiful earth is a quest for unity: unity and harmony within ourselves, unity with our fellows and environment, and unity with our Creator. This quest can be covered with dust, concealed by hate and stigma, obscured by ego, and masked by bloodshed—but the quest never dies, and never will die until we bring peace and harmony to our world.

For seven days a year we dedicate ourselves to bringing unity to our world. On this holiday, united we sit.

Rabbi Levi Avtzon lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife Chaya and their children. He is associate rabbi and director of outreach at the Linksfield Senderwood Hebrew Congregationl.
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Dorothy R. Bienen RPB, FLA September 27, 2010

Great Food For Thought! Great content in your piece,Levi.

You include all one needs to understand and establish the esscence of Sukkot. What a joy, to sit , pray and chat in the Sukkah. Thank you for this lovely and helpful article and Chag Sameach. Reply

hinda schryber jerusalem, israel September 22, 2010

very good I like this- will say it over in our succah tonight.
Thanks yuo for this beautiful insight. Reply

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