As the Torah Turns
Rabbi Lader’s Weekly D’var Torah
Sukkot – Lev. 22:26-23:44
The Torah reading for Sukkot is Lev. 22:26-23:44, and includes the “fixed times of the Eternal, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions.” (23:2) Sacred occasions – Mikra-ay Kodesh. This term is used ten times; each “fixed time” – beginning with Shabbat – is a sacred occasion, another opportunity for holiness. We tend to associate location with holiness. One can imagine the pomp and circumstance that accompanied the festivals in Jerusalem during Temple times. Our own memories of being in our own sanctuaries for holiday celebrations bring up images of modern-day pomp and circumstance that perhaps we recall with a sense of holiness. And now our own homes have become our sanctuary spaces. And our challenge is to enter into the mindset of holy space. I would like for us to also note that each fixed time is a sacred occasion… What does it mean to have sacred time? Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes about this in his book The Sabbath: “There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.” Heschel explains that Shabbat becomes a “palace in time”… and not only offers us an opportunity for weekly spiritual communion and time with friends and family, but it also has the potential to help shape the way we live the other six days of the week. Rabbi Or N. Rose expounds on this: Will our time with friends and family make us more sensitive to the needs of other human beings? Will our time celebrating the grandeur and beauty of nature make us more sensitive to the needs of the earth? Will we be able to hold in our hearts and minds the realization that God is the supreme author of life and that we are called upon by the Divine to serve as co-creators of a just and compassionate world? In brief, can we carry with us something of the Sabbath consciousness through the rest of the week? The mikra’ay kodesh – Torah’s sacred occasions throughout the year [Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot] offer us continuing opportunities to “be” and to consider our connections with others, the natural world around us, and with the Divine. In this way, holiness is not confined to space, but across time.
From Previous Weeks
In his comments on this Torah portion, Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb reminds us about the importance of listening…
Even closer to the final chapters of Torah
Miraculous garments belong to us all.
Justice, justice you shall pursue…