WHEN THE SUN GETS INTO SHADY BUSINESS
There is something strikingly odd about Sukkos and its place in the Jewish year-cycle. All year round, we live in a dark world. God hides, Man slides, sin thrives, and darkness abides. And then comes Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. God appears, the air clears, we make amends, the world is cleansed.
And then, just as the world begins anew, its sun so bright and sky so blue, what oh what does the Jew do? ………
……..He builds a hut and hides from view!
Why oh why, does he retreat, just as the world seems oh so sweet? And why oh why, must he be shaded, from a world, for once not jaded?
Poetry aside, we dare proprose (1..2..3..laugh) a resolution based upon the following observation.
Our universe is governed by two primary sources of light: The sun and the moon. Although they are different in many ways, their primary difference lies in the fact that the sun is its own source of light whereas the moon merely reflects the light of another; namely, the sun. Our Sages teach that on a deeper level, it is the moon which readily admits that the source of all light is Someone other than itself, while the sun presents itself as if it were a self-created entity. It is for this reason that while other nations count to the solar year, the Jews adhere to a lunar calendar, giving expression to the fact that all of Creation is but a reflection of its Creator.
Interestingly enough, our Sages tell us that Rosh Hashana is celebrated specifically on a day during which the moon does not appear; i.e. on the first of a lunar month. “Tiku bachodesh shofar”, says the Torah, “bakeseh l’yom chageinu”. “Blow on the [first of] the month the shofar, on the covered day (i.e. when the moon is covered) for the day of our holiday”.
Why is it so? Why does the New Year need to be celebrated specifically on the day the moon does not appear? Indeed, how can the day of Creation be celebrated annually based on the lunar calendar altogether, when the very cycle being celebrated is the year, a phenomenon exclusive to the solar scheme of things?
(Don’t get confused now…. I don’t need company)
Apparently, the entire idea of Rosh Hashana is to celebrate God creating the very universe which seeks to hide His presence. It is precisely when there is no moon to be seen, and the sun reigns supreme, declaring itself as its own source of light, that we remind Creation of its true Source. It is precisely when the solar cycle of year begins anew, that we pronounce God our King, reinforcing the message of the moon that there is nothing in our universe sourced within itself.
And slowly, Creation gets the message. Slowly, we internalize that nothing exists in this world to proclaim its own existence, but to reflect the existence of God.
And yes, even the sun gets the message. Slowly, ever so slowly, it begins to give more and more of its light to the moon. Slowly, it learns to use its light not in a way which belies its Creator, but to instead take all its perceived self-sustainability and relinquish it to the moon, which in turn expresses the true nature of all light as a mere reflection of the Source-of-all-sources.
On the fifteenth of the month, this recognition reaches its climax. That “almighty” sun, which mere weeks earlier had sought to proclaim itself as self-created, instead heard us declare God king on Rosh Hashana, has finally acclimated to its newfound role of providing every last ray of its light to the moon which in turn declares all of Creation a mere reflection of its Creator.
And yet, on the morrow, he will begin forgetting that lesson. He will steadily begin withholding more and more of his light from the moon, preferring to instead pretend once again as if he has some purpose other than revealing God; as if there is some validity to his claim of self-perpetuation.
It is at that point that we retreat. It is at that moment that we begin shading ourselves from the sun’s light, lest he influence us to begin forgetting the message of Rosh Hashana as well.
No!, we declare. We are unwilling to sink back into that ever-delusional, life-lived-as-usual, devilish potion and poisonous notion, that Earth somehow spins, with its own fins, and that suns may shine, with no source Divine. No, we do say, it just ain’t that way, so go ahead sun, act like a bum, forget where you’re from, but don’t you dare come, and shine your there rays, which sing your own praise, here into my hut, which knows not to strut, and declares to all, who can hear its call, that God is the King, of everything!!!!!