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ISRAEL

 
 
 
 

SUKKOT

 
 

RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO, MWU DEPUTY - DIRECTOR GENERAL & DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

Succot, Joy & Identity
By: Rabbi Carlos Tapiero,
Carlos@maccabiworld.org
MWU Deputy - Director General & Director of Education



 

Kfar Maccabiah, October 9, 2011

‏י"א תשרי תשע"ב

 Succot, Joy & Identity

 Dear friends,

Succot is the Festival of Joy of the Jewish people. The Torah recognizes it as "He'Chag", "the Festival par excellence, and wants us to prepare ourselves for complete joy in the celebration of Succot: In Sefer Devarim (XVI, 14-15), we are told "Ve'samachta bechagecha" "And you shall rejoice in your festival".

Our ancient exegesis offers various explanations for this verse. The Chassidut, (Chasidism), which was once, during the dark time of pogroms, expulsions and extreme poverty in Central Europe, the most revolutionary and dynamic movement amongst our People, elevated the search for joy into the key of hope for a better Jewish future. The most extreme and compelling example on this Chassidic belief was Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav[1], who made of the joy of life its motto: "Mitzvah g'dolah- lihiot besimchah tamid", "It's a great mitzvah to always be happy" (Likutey Moharan II, 24). In his view, joy should be the starting point for everything in our lives; it's a recognition of the tremendous gift of being alive.

Another Chasidic master, The Rebbe of Kotzk[2], referred specifically to the joy of Succot, linking it with the holy days that immediately precede it, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Kotzker said: "Joyfulness is the outcome of holiness. Therefore Succot, coming after Yom Kippur, when we become holy and sinless, is called 'the season of our joy', 'Zman simchateinu', as we pray our Succot blessings." For the Kotzker, then, Holiness is what leads to Happiness, and Succot acquires its status as "HeJag", "the Festival" for its proximity to the Yamim Noraim, marked by the process of growing closer to God and its consequent holiness.

We of Maccabi are closer to Rebbe Nachman's explanation than that of the Rebbe of Kotzk, but we nevertheless link both of them conceptually.

Like Rabbi Nachman, we believe in the extraordinary strength of joy; and, at the same time, we also believe as the Kotzker said, that there is a relationship between happiness and holiness. Our formula, nevertheless, is inverse to the Kotzker's:  Joyfulness, as a source of vitality, strength, creation and life, leads to holiness. The positive and constructive action of our Maccabi Movement leads us to build a Jewish identity based on how happy, uplifting and wonderful it is "to be Jewish". Some weeks ago at a Conference of young Maccabi Leaderships in Central Europe, Daniel Bogunovic, Chairman of Maccabi Serbia (a T.O. founded 7 years ago after another Maccabi in-service-training session),  expressed one of our Maccabi ideals in a most powerful way: "For me, being Jewish is a privilege." That's the work and action model we develop in our World Youth Movement (meeting in Israel three weeks from now), in the hundreds of seminars, workshops and training sessions, in our Israel Programs, in our national and regional tournaments and Maccabi Games unparalleled as Jewish mega-events, in our rikudim festivals, in our global Hasbara campaign. For us, Succot means restoring joy to "being Jewish" because our joy leads to holiness, and holiness means working to achieve Jewish Continuity through pride in being Jewish, connected in Maccabi with our Sources, our Celebrations and our State of Israel, the highest expression of our joyful creation.

May God enlighten us to celebrate Succot through the holy joy of our actions to promote the Jewish-Zionist identity of thousands of Maccabi members worldwide.

May God inspire us to realize that joy is a constructive force

capable of transforming the world, beginning with our nearest and dearest, then spreading and multiplying the joy of all our People.

And May God find us on this Succot

happier and more complete because richer in achievements,

joyously celebrating the countless opportunities of our daily lives.

 With best wishes,

Chag Succot Sameach!

Chazak ve'ematz!

 RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO
Deputy Director-General &
Director of Education
carlos@maccabiworld.org


[1] Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, also known as Nachman of Uman (April 4, 1772 - October 16, 1810), founder of his own Hasidic school, famous for the richness of his stories.

[2] Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, better known as the Kotzker Rebbe (17871859) was a Hasidic rabbi and leader, a student of Rabbi Bunim of Peshischa.

 
 
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