This is a Jewish holiday season not to forget. The celebration of Sukkot this year will be characterized by the restrictions in the way it is celebrated due to the pandemic. The traditional extended gatherings and hospitality will have to wait. Why are events unfolding this way? To cause us to reflect and realize that our situation with the pandemic does not come as a punishing blow, but as a wake-up call to scrutinize the state of hatred and division between us. By keeping us physically apart, nature is trying to reverse our state of separation and bring our hearts closer to one another for the building of a true Sukkah of love and unity that will cover all of humanity for a good future.
The festival of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) is considered a joyful celebration. This year there is no reason to feel differently, as we have been given a great opportunity to analyze our poor-treatment of each other and to correct it. For this, a deep soul-searching must be made. It is similar to needing an accurate diagnosis before being able to receive the right medicine to fully recover from a sickness.
We are used to living our lives in a comfortable partnership with our ego. In all honesty, we cannot play the victims as if we are innocent lambs for the slaughter, who have been unwillingly under the control of our egoistic actions toward others, as if we have been without say or free will. Our selfish behavior is intentional and has fulfilled our self-centered interests, regardless of whether they have been to the detriment of those around us. Therefore, nature is signaling to us that we are not worthy to sit together in a common Sukkah and welcome Ushpizin (guests) until we correct the way we relate to each other. The virus is teaching us that in our interdependent world, the survival of the whole civilization is at risk if cooperation for our mutual benefit is not deemed as our primary goal.
According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, humanity is entering a stage of development called “The Last Generation.” This refers to a gradual process of change during which a new society must be built in such a way that its functioning will correspond and align with the laws of nature, meaning that it will be in connection and balance with nature. This new society must know how to manage itself correctly to reach a balanced state. This period of transition is providing an entryway for the first generation to begin to carry out true love of others. However, until this state is reached, the opposite state is revealed before our eyes—one of exploitive and reckless attitudes and actions. This unpleasant state of separation is being disclosed for us to look at ourselves, see the damage we cause, and ask for help in making a correction from the upper force that controls all of reality.
Sukkot symbolizes the beautiful process of inner change in our egoistic attributes during which we take the “waste of barn and winery”—items that represent the quality of love for others and which now seem to us to be of no value at all—and raise them above our heads as those most precious and important attributes there are, like a sheltering roof to shade us from the burning sun. Sukkot is a call to exit our comfortable egoistic “home,” meaning our self-love, and to build a new structure, a Sukkah, as a symbol of the new world that we can create if we acquire the qualities of bestowal and brotherhood.
Therefore, the true meaning of this festival is to build a new reality of mutual understanding and support—a Sukkah of peace—through the positive force we generate through our unity. We, the Jewish people, must be an example of cohesion and lead the way for others to follow, gathering the whole world beneath one big thatch-covering where we will be united as one. When this comes to pass, the temporary dwelling of the Sukkah will be completed as the common space we make for each other within our hearts, ensuring humanity a healthy life and happy coexistence under one global roof.