THOUGHTS ON SUKKOT
SUKKOT – THE DUAL FESTIVAL
More than any other festival, Sukkot represents the dual character of Jewish faith. We believe in the universality of God together with the particularity of Jewish history and identity. All nations need rain. We are all part of nature. We are all dependent on the complex ecology of the created world. We are all threatened by climate change, global warming, the destruction of rain forests, the overexploitation of non-renewable energy sources and the mass extinction of species. But each nation is different. As Jews we are heirs to a history unlike that of any other people: small, vulnerable, suffering repeated exile and defeat, yet surviving and celebrating.
Sukkot thus represents the tension at the heart of Judaism in a way not shared by any other faith. The God of Israel is the God of all humanity. But the religion of Israel is not, and will not be, the religion of all humanity. Even in the messianic age, Zechariah tells us, the nations will celebrate only Sukkot together with Israel, not the other festivals – despite the fact that on that day God will be One and His name One.
This is one of the most important truths Judaism offers the world: Humanity is formed out of our commonalities and differences. Our differences shape our identity. Our commonalities form our humanity. We are neither completely different nor all the same. If we were completely different, we could not communicate. If we were all alike, we would have nothing to say. Our differences matter. But so too does the truth that despite our religious differences we share a common humanity. Sukkot is thus the festival of a double joy: at being part of this people, yet also participating in the universal fate of humankind.
From the introduction of Rabbi Lord Sacks, Emeritus Chief Rabbi, in the Koren Sukkot Mahzor