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The Unpopular Tzaddik... An Etrog from Eden... The Test... Joy of a Mitzvah...

A New Beginning
All my life, I was made to feel different, and if I didn’t play by the rules then I wasn’t a “good,” serious Jew. Is that how I want my son and daughter to feel? Do I have what it takes to connect?
The Broken Etrog
In the city of Berditchev, home to tens of thousands of Jews, there was but one etrog . . .
The Unpopular Tzaddik
Rabbi Pinchas raised his eyes. There stood the first of the Ushpizin--the honored guest for the first night of the festival--outside the door of his sukkah...
An Etrog From Eden
The Angel Michael harnessed the horse to the wagon of mitzvot, and the wagon driver cracked his whip. Suddenly the wagon gave a lurch forward, flattening the piles of sins that had been obstructing its way...
The Test
The whole Holy Society were not able to rouse joy, and only a villager was able to do so?!
Joy of a Mitzvah
In the year 5679 (1918), in the wake of the first World War, there were no etrogim, for it was not possible to bring them from outside the country.
The Words of My Mouth
I was part of a group of prisoners that was being transported under heavy guard, and thus they led us on foot from city to city and village to village...
The Case of the Missing Etrog
On the cosmic mitzvah scale there really is no difference if I make a blessing over my lulav-and-etrog set, or if that same set is used by a Jew on the streets of Brooklyn.... mitzvah = mitzvah, right?
The Aluminum Sukkah
"I couldn't contain my emotions. I began to cry... I had only meant to make the sukkah more beautiful!"
The Bleeding Hat
We danced and sang in the sukkah, the transformative rain a mikvah-like immersion in G‑d’s presence and will . . .
A Sixth Dimension
They were carrying branches and fruit. They wanted me to wave them in the air, to shake them in all directions. For G‑d. For world peace. For unity . . .
Sukkot in Voronezh
While I can say that I always loved the exotic palm scent that permeates the whole festival, always enjoyed the elbowing and squashing that comes with a sukkah packed to capacity, and the rainwater that cooled and diluted our soup, I can never say I treasured the sukkah—until this year . . .
Hitting the Streets with My Sukkot Holiday Gear
My initial fear to shake the Four Kinds with others
As I approached my twenties, I was determined to overcome my shyness and have the chutzpah to approach people and ask if they would like to say a blessing on the Four Kinds, which the sages say bring unity to the Jewish people.
Sukkot Spanning the Generations
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Yankel, a rabbi from the town of Zhuravitz, had made the 1,200-kilometer journey to bring some much-needed holiday cheer.
It was in Paris in the 1930s. Hitler had already risen to power in Germany. I was a student in the “City of Light,” and I was not having an easy time.
The Holy Silver Thief
He was so absorbed in his study that he did not even hear a thief enter the sukkah and deftly remove all the valuable utensils from the table.
The Stranger Who Wanted to Go to Heaven
The messenger approached a traveler and asked him whether he was carrying an etrog . . .
Only the fruit used by Jews during their festival of Sukkot could cure the king.
The Day I Was an Angel
It had been a drizzly morning, gray and overcast, and I stood like a soldier outside a local bagel shop.
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