In our last article we discussed how difficult it can be for parents, especially mothers, to focus on the spiritual aspects of this time period. It is the holiest time of year on the Jewish calendar. However, parents are often working at a disadvantage because the holidays usually coincide with the end of summer camp and the back-to-school rush.
We discussed ways that we can use this time to practice mindfulness and recognize all the things that we do already that constitute mitzvahs.
What about Sukkot? Somehow Sukkot gets lost in the shuffle, yet it is also an opportunity for spiritual growth. We live in Sukkahs to remind ourselves of the Anenei Hakavod that surrounded and protected us in the desert. Another reason we live in the Sukkah is to help us recognize that Hashem takes each of us into our Sukkah. This is to show us that we have been forgiven after Yom Kippur and we now merit settling under his direct protection, the Kanfei Haschina is represented by the Sukkah. Hashem’s holy presence is in our Sukkah.
Most importantly Sukkot is a time to focus on the midah of gratefulness. Sukkot comes right after the harvest, when we are surrounded by plenty. To show our thanks to Hashem, and to recognize that he is the one who provided us with this bounty, we leave the security of our homes and spend eight days in temporary hut.
According to Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l, this is important because during this time period, (especially on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) we are asking Hashem for a new lease on life. We can’t do that unless we show that we appreciate what we had this past year and what we have every day. The simple things are the most precious things: the beauty of nature, each breath, the delicious food we ate and all the restful nights of sleep. Thanking God, for all that we have, and have had until now, creates the conduit, the pipeline, that brings us more blessings and good for the coming year.
I have one friend who keeps a gratitude journal and writes three things that she is grateful for each day. This month, she kicked it up a notch and wrote down four things for which she is grateful. If you don’t keep a gratitude journal, this is the perfect time of year to start.
You can also do this: go around the Sukkah and ask your family and guests to share something for which they are grateful. If that doesn’t work, perhaps in the morning when you wake up and say the prayer of Modeh Ani, you can think of just one thing in your life for which you are grateful.
Keeping up the spirituality of these days during Sukkot can be done. Being grateful for the little things can help.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.