The Greatest Joy in the World
“There is nothing that brings greater joy than resolving doubts” (Jewish Sages).
The other side of this coin is that being in doubt brings great anxiety. When you are at a crossroads in life and you need to make a decision, you can really agonize over which direction you should go. You can lose sleep, it can affect your health and weigh very heavily on you.
Yom Kippur is the day where we confront ourselves. It can be excruciatingly painful to think about the past year and all of our mistakes. Can I ever be close to God again? Have I damaged my life to the point where it is irreparable? A dark cloud of doubt hangs over our heads before Yom Kippur.
By the time Yom Kippur is over, everything has changed. Doubts have been lifted and we must feel confident that we have repaired our relationship with Hashem. No doubt can remain. The merciful Hashem accepts our sincere repentance,
So now that all of our doubts have been resolved, we enter in to the most joyous period on the Jewish calendar.
There are 4 days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot (Tabernacles) and we spend them getting ready for the Feast. It is exciting and fun. We go to buy the Four Species as mentioned in the Bible and build our Sukkot (tabernacles). The smell of amazing foods being prepared is in the air. There is an energy that can be felt all around Israel.
In every open space there are markets where people are selling the Four Species—sort of like a large farmers market. People walk around trying to find the most beautiful set. There are huge stacks of palm branches which are used for the roofs of the Sukkah. Cars are driving all over our town with palm branches tied to the roof hoping to make it home before they fall off! It is quite a site to see a small compact car with 30 huge palm branches on it! Words cannot explain the joy of the preparations.
With all of the above, we can understand why the Tanach (Bible) uses the word joy in association with Sukkot more than it does with any of the other Festivals.
“Let the king bring me into his chambers. Friends We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine.” (Song of Songs 1:)4) The Jewish Sages associate this verse with Sukkot. Now that Yom Kippur is over and we have come close to Hashem, He brings us into his chamber—the Sukkah (Tabernacle)! It is culmination of the intense joy.
Hopefully it is the space that we will never leave.