Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

The Feast of Tabernacles, a Nothing Festival

Sukkoth is the pre-eminently happy Jewish holiday. Why?

Well, just four days prior, we ended Yom Kippur with a feeling of tremendous joy. Most Jews at the end of the Day of Atonement feel very happy. Not that the intense day is over. Even before breaking the fast, we sense this bliss of an important job well done with considerable effort and successfully. We did our part and it feels as if G^d did His.

It seems that Judaism says: don’t just be happy. Give it some form.

It reminds me of the failed attempt to serve G^d which ended up with worshipping a Golden Calf. Says G^d: Nice try but don’t use your own tools – use what I give you. And He gave us the Tabernacle (Temple in the desert) and its appliances. So for this Festival, to clothe our happiness, we also get tools. But how different from a Tent of Meeting.

For the Celebration of Sukkoth, we received as symbol a booth, a non-house. The roof must be from plant material, but it must be cut off, dead. We also get the Four Specious, to … wave. What a non-action!

On the Shabbat of the Festival, we read from the Torah Exodus 33:12-34:26. It starts at the aftermath of the story with the Golden Calf. There G^d “clarifies” to Moses that He will favor whom He’ll show favor and give mercy whom He’ll show mercy, which does not reveal a whole lot about G^d, and that no one alive can see His face though Moses gets to see His back – a non-portray. Yet, we should not serve non-gods. As we said in many ways in whole Hallel (in Psalms 115) how idols are non-powers.

The Prophets’ reading Ezekiel 38:18-39:16 speaks of the two wars of Gog and Magog, which some rabbis hold has happened already: the Six Day War – a non-war – over within a week. Whoever saw such a war?!

That Shabbat we read Ecclesiastes, whose recurring theme is that all of life is futile, amounts to nothing. (But still adds, it pays to live soundly.)

This reminds me of what we say in our last main Prayer on Yom Kippur, that all is futile. A quote from early Morning Prayers that all is in vain.

However. The text doesn’t stop there. Judaism isn’t a nihilistic worldview.

On Yom Kippur, we continue with two counter-arguments: that from the start, G^d has set Man apart from the rest of Creation, and is eager to forgive.

The Daily Morning Prayer says after that all is futile: Yet – we are Your People, We have a covenant and we are offspring of our Patriarchs.

It somehow reminds me of the Mishnah (Avot 2:21): It is not yours to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.

Anyway, so, Sukkoth seems a Feast of Joy but with emptiness to counter over-attachment to comfort, self-importance and false reassurances from the material world. However, it’s followed by Simchat Torah with a main part of it also not celebrated at home – but in the Synagogue – different from the next Festival, of Chanukah, which is all about our homes.

There’re uncertain or unknown things that’ll stay uncertain and unknown. Yet, we have Torah learning with its endless depths that will put justice, meaning and wisdom into our lives and continuously elevate us. But only after first, a happy Nothing Festival cleansed us from over-attachment.

Happy Holidays!

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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