The Challenges of Sukkot

Sukkot observances offer a balance between the real and the ideal.

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Sukkot addresses these dilemmas by offering its own remarkable combinations of experiences. Sukkot rituals pay tribute to the Israelite journeys in a desert while celebrating the produce of the land of Israel. Sukkot rituals affirm the holiness of pleasure, even while they infuse pleasure into the holy. The Sukkot liturgy celebrates material wealth even as it warns that it is "vanity of vanities." In the course of communicating these dialectical truths, Sukkot's central ritual model of the holiday – the reenactment of the journey to liberation – becomes the foreshadowing of the Exodus way through human history to a universal Promised Land.

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Rabbi Irving Greenberg

Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg was the president of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation and founding president of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He also is the author of For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity (2004, Jewish Publication Society).