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Camp Sports Dvar Torah!

Dear parents and NCSYers,
We are now making the shift from the yomim noraim (Days of Awe) to the happier holiday in the month of Tishrei, Sukkos. As we learned in camp, Sukkos is a time to recognize that everything that we have and will have is all in Hashem’s hands, and we rejoice in that realization. Sitting in the sukkah reminds us that all of our material belongings (including our house) is really all from Hashem, and shaking the lulav helps us acknowledge that even the things that we work hard for (like our crops or money) are from Hashem too, and we use these very items to serve Him with. I implore you to look back at the camp packets to remind yourself of some of these ideas. Click here to access the Sukkah packet, and click here to access the Lulav packet (for some reason, Google Drive is not opening the Lulav packet on my computer. If you have the same problem, then click the link again, click File in the left corner, then click Download. After the file is fully downloaded, click it. This should download the document on to your computer).

This week we have the pleasure of reading a Sukkos dvar torah from Yaakov Abramovitz:

As we move from the Yom Kippur packet to the Sukkos one, a very different feeling is in the air. These two holidays have such different themes and messages, that it can be difficult to understand why they are so close in time to each other. This can be true to the extent that as we begin our Sukkos celebrations, we might even forget that just a few short days ago we were hungry, tired, and cranky (because everyone knows how content, alert, and cheerful teenagers usually are).

What is the connection between Yom Kippur and Sukkos?

Well, as we saw in our camp packet, a major theme of Yom Kippur is trying to be like angels (come on, even if you’ve never opened the packet, the front cover is enough of a clue): we dress in white, we say “boruch sheim kivod malchuso l’olam va’ed” out loud, and, most notably, we refrain from physical activities such as eating, drinking, and showering. Ignoring our physical needs, Yom Kippur is about being angelic.

Sukkos, in stark contrast, is all about physicality. One of the main mitzvos of the holiday is living in the Sukkah, which is one of the few mitzvos that we do with our entire bodies. We fulfill this mitzvah by eating, drinking, and sleeping in the Sukkah, activities that are de-emphasized on Yom Kippur. The other main mitzvah involves the Lulav and other plants, which is how we thank Hashem for the agricultural blessings (=food) we received this year. Additionally, on Sukkos we are judged for the amount of rain that we are going to get this year, which ultimately will affect how much food we will eat this year. Living and food, Sukkos is all about being human.

Perhaps this would explain the connection between the two holidays: On Yom Kippur we pretend to be angels for the reasons described in the packet. But after doing it for one day, we realize that Hashem didn’t give the Torah to angels; He gave it to people! We can’t be angels all year. In fact, we have so much trouble doing it for just one day! After Yom Kippur is over, we recognize more than ever that we are human beings with physical needs – and that is not just okay, but great! And so the holiday of Sukkos, right after Yom Kippur, is celebrated with lots and lots of mitzvos centered around our physical needs. This is the real way that we were intended to serve God!

Sukkos is called “the holiday of joy” and is a great opportunity for us to learn how to have a great Jewish time! That being said, now would be a great time to remind everyone about the Camp Sports reunion at Rabbi Fried’s this Tuesday night, where a great time will undoubtedly be had by all (except maybe Rabbi Fried’s neighbors who will think we’re crazy!).

Looking forward to seeing you all then!

Have a fun and joyful Sukkos!

P.S. Don’t forget about the camp reunion! It will take place on Tuesday September 24th at Rabbi Fried’s house, 646 Seagirt Boulevard Far Rockaway, NY. It will be from 3:30 pm to 8:45 pm. We will play sports, have a barbecue, and finish off with some special learning for Hoshana Rabbah. Please RSVP by emailing rabbifried@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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