Home > Sermons > SERMON: Gas Masks Are for Purim…Not Sukkot?!?

SERMON: Gas Masks Are for Purim…Not Sukkot?!?

September 23, 2013

I am going to ask you a simple question, but I tell you right now that the answer is not so simple! Question: Who would seem to have a clearer perspective … a 13 year old teenager or an 85 year old sage? Under normal circumstances, the answer would be obvious. But not today!

On this Shabbat of Chol Hamoed Sukkot, our Bar Mitzvah boy, David Renbaum, reminded us of an ancient debate about this festival of Sukkot that still has contemporary relevance. What is it that we commemorate and celebrate during this festival of Sukkot? Again, a seemingly simple question but the answer is not so simple! Most everyone would tell you that during this festival of Sukkot we commemorate how the Jews traveled in the wilderness for 40 years and were able to survive while living in sukkot … living in little booths. And so this week we do the same.

But you should know that is only one opinion; the opinion of Rabbi Akiva. In the Talmud we are offered a different perspective, the perspective of Rabbi Eleazer who says that what we commemorate on Sukkot are the “ananei hakavod” – the clouds of glory that followed the camp of Israel as it traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel. According to our tradition, God protected the Jews during their travels by providing them with seven clouds of glory which enveloped them. One was placed under their feet like a carpet, one was above their heads like a shadow, four were on all their four sides and the seventh cloud went before them to show the way. All Israel dwelt in one protective booth made of these clouds. According to Rabbi Eleazer, our Sukkah today is there to remind us of this Divine protection that God gave us. READ MORE

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