Don’t worry, be happy, as I explained recently.
I got confused about why and what we celebrate on the Feast of Booths or of Tabernacles. But now I think I got it clear, and also why I got confused.
But first, a riddle:
Why do we dance on the Feast of Rejoicing of [Possessing] the Torah but not on the Festival of Booths that is called the time of our rejoicing?
My answer is: It’s a mistake if we don’t dance on the Feast of Tabernacles.
What got me confused is that, in Jewish Law, the most important part of the booth is the roof. There are so many conditions and complicated corrections to have it kosher. The walls of the booth hardly register. They must be between certain heights and of a certain firmness, but that’s it.
Our Rabbis talk about the symbolism of dwelling in a booth for seven days. The roof stands for the Clouds of Glory returning on the 15th of Tishrey to the men after theirs had disappeared at our Sin at the Golden Calf.
That’s a sweet connection, but now I see more.
The Torah talks about G^d settling us for 40 years in the desert, in booths, after exiting Egypt. But they lacked roofs of leaves, branches, or basks. But the essence is not the roof but their temporality. Any moment, we could be summoned to wrap up and move. That’s why the destroyed Temple of David is called a Booth. Its parts are stored away to be reassembled soon.
The Torah calls this Festival for our harvest. After a long, hot summer, we are presented with not only the fruits of our agricultural labor but also our Trust in G^d and His Divine Providence, and our gratefulness. The message is to be grateful, happy, and trusting in the One we can rely on.
We live for a week in often-flimsy booths to symbolize our Trust in G^d. Is it crazy to trust Him? Trust must be won. But it was. For forty years, He sustained us in the desert and during our journeys there.
The message is that, just like we could trust Him to free us from Egyptian bondage and sustain us in a desert, we can now trust Him in the Land, and everywhere, always, to look after us with the same trustworthiness.
This way, the Festival is also connected to the Torah, the Exodus from Egypt, and the settling in the Holy Land, like the other two Pilgrim Feasts.
This is connected to the flimsiness of the walls of the booth. That we could see Heaven through the roof is only a charming hint of Divine Providence.
Our gratefulness for the harvest we should extend to everything we have. Our happiness of the Festival, we should take with us into the weekdays.
Enjoy and make others happy.