Thursday, October 1, 2015

Succos II 5776

Erev Succos – Z’man Simchaseinu
14 Tishrei 5776/ September 27, 2015

It doesn’t matter which of the Jewish Magazines you pick up from any of the local newsstands now before Succos, all of the Succos editions seem to have a similar format. For starters they are all impressively large and the front cover contains beautiful images about Succos which highlights of many of the classic articles you will find inside.
Then, when you open any of the magazines, you will notice the following basic sequence:
The first eight pages contain advertisements for beautiful shaitels, stunning jewelry, and magnificent vacation destinations that appeal to all of your senses. That is followed with the Editor’s note in which the editor writes about the importance of the message of Succos and how it teaches us to give up from the physical world’s amenities and luxuries so that we can discover and achieve true internal happiness. The editor then gives you a taste of the wonderful articles you will find inside which are all basically centered around that theme.
The next ten pages are advertisements for restaurants, mouthwatering meats, exquisite cheeses, and sumptuous desserts. Then there is a feature article which describes the greatness of the Ushpizin, how they lived their lives with utter simplicity, and never indulged in this world. True they may have been blessed with wealth, but they used it solely to help others, and never sought to pamper themselves in any way. They chose a path of service to Hashem in everything they did.
The following fifteen pages have beautiful ads for many exotic Pesach locations throughout the world, and many other special dates with great deals that you cannot afford(!) to miss – such as midwinter in Miami, Cancun, and LA, Shabbos parshas Noach on Har Ararat in Turkey, Shabbos Lech Lecha in the footsteps of Avrom in Aram Naharayim, etc. Then there is a feature article which describes the timeless lesson of the Succah which teaches us that we need nothing more from life other than to always feel we are in Hashem’s protective embrace. We don’t need to travel to find fulfillment because all that matters is that we are close to Hashem.
Then there are another twenty pages of ads for your brand new state of the art kitchen with five thousand dollar handles for the faucets, and many other features that will make your home the talk of the block (until your neighbor constructs a nicer kitchen). Then there will be a feature article about Koheles and why we read it during ‘the season of our happiness’ when it seems so foreboding, depressing, and hopeless. The article will explain that Koheles is really coming to uplift us by reminding us that only if we live for this world and indulge too much in it is everything futile and vain. But if we live for a higher purpose and train ourselves to be happy with what we have than we can achieve true meaning and happiness, even in this world.
I’m guessing by now you get my point.
So basically my advice is that if you want to gain some real appreciation of the greatness of Succos from the wonderful literature that the magazines provide us with (and I’m not being facetious about that), best is to read the articles and skip all the ads in between. I’m guessing you won’t see this article posted in any of those magazines, but at least you were lucky enough to read it here.

Good Yom Tov & Chag Sameach,
              R’ Dani and Chani Staum       

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