Friday, October 2, 2009


"Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, who separated between the holy and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of labor. Blessed are You, Hashem, who separates between the holy and secular." (From the Siddur for Havdalah)

Although I've read this at the conclusion of every shabbat for months now, it has never been more real to me than it is right now. The Siddur precedes this prayer with the words, "may the distinction between the holiness of Shabbat and the secular nature of the weekdays guide me to appreciate the other differences that exist in His universe." Brought to mind lately are the stark contrasts that exist in the world. Sometimes when we see G-d for who He is, we are taken back by the starkness of reality compared to what G-d deems important. When we see the chasm that sometimes exists between the desires of our hearts and G-d's, it is jarring to say the least. As the "repentance mood" of the Ten Days of Awe and Yom Kippur transitions to the "rejoicing mood" of Sukkot (Tabernacles), I am amazed at the stark contrast between G-d's reality and ours. Transitions and changes (sometimes big changes) are necessary, for G-d oftentimes uses circumstances and changes to change us. Oftentimes it the only way that He can get our attention in this chaotic society in which we live. Oftentimes He must speak louder than words...

There is a difference between the secular and the holy, between darkness and light, between closeness and connectedness, between brazenness and brokenness, between silence and stillness, between contempt and contentment... between us and G-d... and it can be stark. Thankfully, G-d has not given up on us yet! He disciplines and corrects us, he gives and He takes away, but He is never far from us. In fact, He is with us. During this celebration of Sukkot, the stark reality is that we have a long way to go, but also that He has shown us the way to get there......... and when we get there, He will be there too.

Sukkot is a time to remember several things: G-d's provision and deliverance, that He is with us and we will someday be with Him, and that all is vanity aside from Him. As we look forward to reading Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), we are reminded that the things we hold so dear are really not that important........ that G-d sometimes causes change and causes us to leave people and places and things, but those that are really important actually come with us: our husbands, our children, and our G-d. During Sukkot, we are meant to get a taste of what it is like to have nothing so that we understand what is really important, and adjust our priorities likewise.

So, like King Shlomo (Solomon), let us come to the conclusion that what really matters is to "fear
G-d and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For G-d will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." -Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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