Sunday, 19 October 2014

Doing Everything in its Correct Time - a Lesson from Sukkot

City Of Sukkas In Jerusalem
By Effi B. (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Torah teaches that "Zerizim makdimim le'mitzvos" - "The swift perform Mitzvot with alacrity". The moment a Mitzvah presents itself, one should do everything one can to fulfill the Mitzvah. Just as we must be quick to fulfill a Mitzvah that presents itself, we should also be careful to honor the Mitzvah for what it is, when it actually happens! For this reason, many have the custom of disassembling their Sukkot immediately after the festival. Such individuals indicate through this, that the Sukkah contains a holiness of the kind that we should really have it up only for the festival itself. By having it up longer, it is as if we say over that the truth is we can just leave it that way for as long as we wish. Those who value its intrinsic holiness make sure the Sukkah is ready for the festival - but also take it down immediately afterwards to show how much they have valued it - but for the festival itself only!

On the other side of this coin lie those who have not worn Tefillin for the entire festival of Sukkot, in accordance with the opinion that says that Chol HaMoed is really Moed and we don't wear Tefillin on a Moed (festival.) Those who delight in Mitzvot performance wake up early on the day after Sukkot in anticipation of putting on their Tefillin at the earliest possible time - to get back into the holiness of the lights of the Tefillin! Such individuals are really the two sides of the same coin as those who dismantle their Sukkot immediately after the festival.

Sukkot is that time when we begin asking for rain from G-d. Indeed, in the ideal world, G-d will answer very shortly thereafter. Our prayers are taken seriously. The festival is over and we are in urgent need of rain. That being the case, we simply open our mouths, ask G-d for the blessed rain, and the rain comes down!

If we are to get to grips with the way in which prayers and nature work, we should also do well to heed the advice of those who are swift in performing Mitzvot to prepare enthusiastically in advance - and to move on immediately afterwards into the Mitzvah that awaits us next. Mitzvah gorreret Mitzvah - one Mitzvah draws in another.

In Israel, the blessed rains have already come down, bringing new nourishment to all of creation. Yet there were some who still had not taken down their Sukkot. As a result, the rains begin to make their way into the metal of those metal Sukkot and the wood of those Sukkot made of wood. This causes those substances to wear out faster and require new purchases sooner than expected.

Let us take this beautiful lesson to heart. G-d is indeed ready to answer our prayers as we pray. Things must follow a correct process of blessing in the times that blessings should come. Our duty - now - should be to do everything in its correct time! Just as the sun rises and finds itself in the position it should be at each moment of the time, drifting across to the other side of the sky - and the moon and the night performing their duties in their own times, so too should we be careful to honour each moment of time in its most fitting period.

When its time to build (the Sukkah) we build. When it is time to dismantle - we dismantle. When it is time to put the Tefllin aside, we do so (if we follow that custom), and when it is time to put them on again - we do so immediately with enthusiasm. As we relate to the correct cycle of G-d's planned events in creation, so too will He bless us with abundance in those times as He so decrees as being just that right time (which is really always now!)

Everything has its time. This is the best path to blessing.

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