The latest sudden change in the weather has beaten the prayers for rain that characterise the ending of Sukkot. Instead, the Jewish community of the UK is anticipating dwelling in rather damp Sukkot, while maintaining the latest Covid-19 rules – no more than six, etc.
Sukkot reminds us of the fragility of life, living in the sukkah that is open to the elements, and of the duty, no matter how our own life is going, to be hospitable and welcoming (while respecting the laws of the country!). This year, we may need the reminders less, as Covid-19 has made us very aware of these issues, but maybe we might do well, this Sukkot, to consider if humanity is a virus in terms of its impact on the natural life of the world. Through human actions, 40% of all species on earth are threatened with extinction. Compared with us, Covid-19 is a mild irritant to the planet.
We ought to raise our eyes beyond the immediate anxieties due to the virus, as the Book of Deuteronomy tells us: “When you have enough to eat, and have built fine houses to live in… Do not become proud or forget the Eternal One … Do not say to yourself: I have done these great things through my own power and my own strength.”
Our individual success is interwoven with other people and with planet Earth. Let’s use the image of the sukkah to guide us towards better use of our words and deeds to help those in need and to make our relationship with the planet more sustainable. Join our services this Shabbat to lift up our spirits and raise up our vision of the future!
Shabbat shalom, chag Sukkot sameach
Rabbi Richard Jacobi