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Soul                                        need of an injection of joy to reinstate           – “since you did not serve the Lord your G-d with
Nevertheless, despite these spiritual       the vigor and vibrancy of life. Spiritual          happiness (Simcha) and with gladness of heart...”
peaks, something is sorely missing          life had become imbalanced through                 (Deuteronomy 28:47). It is clear that scrupulous
from this religious equation: Simcha        the uplifting yet energy-depleting motif           observance of Torah and mitzvot devoid of
– happiness and joy. Simcha is the true     of judgment, fear and fasting. Sukkot              Simcha is not a religious life but rather a spiritual
soul of Judaism, for at its core it is not  restores the balance through a love                curse.
only a religion but a celebration of        of life, a celebration of mitzvot, with
religious life.3                            the festival’s unmatched ambience of               4 Orot HaTeshuva 9:10.
The Yamim Noraim are truly Days             joy, joie de vivre and rejoicing in G-d’s
of Awe. Throughout the 10 days of           presence.5                                         5 The imperative of simcha on Sukkot is
Repentance the theme of judgment, of        Therefore, if we look at the festivals of          mentioned three times in the Torah, more than
“who will live and who will die,” creates   Tishrei as one unit, they encompass                any other festival. One famous expression of this
an inescapable mood of sobriety, an         the complete religious experience in               is stated in the Mishna (Sukkot 5:1), “That one
undertone of fear and trepidation.          preparing for the year ahead. Through              who has not seen the Simcha of the water-drawing
Furthermore, in our plea for atonement      head, heart and soul they engage the               ceremony (which took place every evening on
on Yom Kippur, we have ‘afflicted’          totality of life. They express holy life as        the intermediary days of the festival) has not seen
ourselves by refraining from the basic      wholesome and spiritual endeavors as               Simcha in his life.” Moreover, Shemini Atzeret
normative life pleasures. In our quest      a harmonious aspiration for both body              is the pinnacle of the Simcha of Sukkot and is
for forgiveness and purity we have          and soul. Intertwining love and fear,              solely dedicated to happiness, simply rejoicing in
necessarily but unnaturally detached        separation and integration, solemnity              G-d’s intimate presence without a need for any
ourselves from the fullness of life. This   and celebration, they give us the                  command or action; neither Sukkah nor species,
tense and intense time has taken its toll.  blueprint to start the year in the best            as the Talmud learns (Sukkah 48a) from the verse
And this is the reason why, explains        possible way.                                      “and only be happy.” It is therefore no surprise
Rav Kook,4 Sukkot comes immediately                                                            that our Sages later instituted Simchat Torah
after Yom Kippur. We are in desperate       3 The verse explicitly states that the root cause  on this festival (on the same day in Israel) as an
                                            of the terrible curses mentioned in Parshat Ki     expression of our joy at our very connection to
                                            Tavo is serving G-d without happiness and joy      Torah.

                                                                                               Rabbi Doron Perez is Head of the
                                                                                               Mizrachi World Movement


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