Imagine that your employer calls you into his office and sits you down for a heart to heart talk. He has a special challenge for you, and he’s confident that you can succeed. But, you’ll be leaving your permanent home for an indefinite amount of time. You agree.
Your employer makes an overseas call and arranges everything you’ll be needing – living quarters, means of transportation, and your every need down to the smallest, most minute detail.
Your employer then tells you that he will be monitoring your every move. You may not feel it, but by virtue of instant messaging, Skype, and all types of new technology, he’ll be virtually with you at all times.
He warns you that your task won’t be easy. But, as a consolation, you’ll be receiving quite a few amenities to make your job more pleasant. Yet, he also warns you not to concentrate on the amenities but to focus on meeting your challenge and completing your mission in the very best possible way. If you’re smart, you’ll heed your employer’s words, for he more than anyone else wants you to succeed.
Three different flights and twenty hours in the air get you to your destination. Sure, you feel awfully lonely. But then again, your employer arranged a beautiful penthouse on the 42nd floor with a breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding ocean. You have a wet bar stocked with all the finest, from 40-year aged-in-an-oak cast authentic Highland-Scotch whiskey to Chateau-de-Rothschild Cabernet, 35 years old. You have a walk-in closet with a complete wardrobe. The fridge and cupboards are stuffed with your favorite foods.
Once a year, you get a telegram (yes, such things still exist) from your employer. He reminds you to focus on your mission, and that the penthouse and all the amenities are temporary. You are always amazed how difficult that is to remember, so you really appreciate the boss’s annual telegram.
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Succoth is the annual telegram we receive from our beloved Father in Heaven. Hashem is reminding us that life in this world is like a fixed-term rented apartment with a non-renewable lease. When your time's up, you pack your bags and out you go.
In this world, all of us are renters. Nobody owns the deed.
Hashem is the landlord, and He gives us our bodies as temporary shelters for the soul, so that we can perform our mission on this lowly material earth and accumulate the gems of Torah knowledge and good deeds that will be valuable to us in the next world.
Photo, below: Succoth in Ashdod
As renters, we have to pay the rent. If we're smart, we happily fulfill our obligations before the landlord comes pounding on our door. If we don't pay our rent in this world, we pay a severe penalty in the next world.
People complain of trials, tribulations, and even minor discomforts in this world. Any departure from the comfort zone is enough to make many people yell. Yet, once again, the “rent” we pay in this world saves us umpteen penalty payments in the next world.
Succoth is a manufacturer’s required exit from the comfort zone. Succoth teaches us to focus on the spiritual and eternal, and not on the material and finite. Sure, we try to beautify our Succas like we beautify any other mitzvah; yet, we have straw, bamboo, and twigs over our heads and not a masonry roof.
By the way, you can’t see the stars through a masonry roof.
Succoth reminds us that we all live in temporary quarters, and that we're all at the mercy of The Great Landlord. We have to express our sincere gratitude for every single day that He extends our lease; that's why we need to utilize every single minute for Torah and mitzvot, because we never know when the non-renewable lease terminates.
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