Back to the Basics

October 1, 2012 - 5:00 am

“Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.” — Exodus 23:16

The holiday of Sukkot is also known as the Festival of Ingathering because it takes place in the autumn. Long before the Pilgrims sat down with the Indians for a feast of thanksgiving, autumn was a time when all people would gather their crops and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Autumn is a time of abundance and blessing. But Judaism has a funny way of celebrating it. We celebrate having more by living with less.

Most of us go through life with so much stuff. How many of us even know what we have any more? And just when we think that we have all the stuff there is to be had, they invent more stuff that we need to buy. Bigger, better, greater, and more! There is no end to the stuff that we need!

But what do we really need? That’s the question we ask ourselves on Sukkot. A few walls, a roof over our heads, friends, family, some good food, and the words of Torah. Sukkot is the holiday of getting back to basics. We don’t need very much. We just need to appreciate what we have.

For an entire week, we move into a flimsy little shelter called a sukkah and live with only the bare necessities. We share festive meals with loved ones and spend time in prayer and studying God’s word. We enjoy the simple life and focus on God, family, and friends. Living in the sukkah, we don’t have much, but we certainly have everything that matters!

Real abundance isn’t about having more. It’s about appreciating what we already have. It’s about feeling blessed by the sunshine on our face and feeling nourished by a cool glass of water. It’s about enjoying the food that we eat and appreciating the people that we are lucky enough to have in our lives. If we can’t feel blessed by what we already have, then even with all the stuff in the world, we will never have enough. Sukkot is about recognizing that what we already have is more than enough. It’s about feeling blessed and enjoying our blessings.

This Sukkot, get back to the basics. Spend less time on the computer and more time out in nature. Take a break from your Facebook friends and have coffee with someone that you haven’t seen in a while. Study God’s word and spend time in prayer. Share a healthy meal with your family. When we approach life with gratitude and appreciation, even a little is really a lot!


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