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    Analysis & appreciation – Sukkot

    Sukkot says a great deal about Judaism.

    Jews do not usually analyse their theology and treat it as an academic belief system. They prefer experience and appreciation. They do not try to apply reason to the nature of God, man and life, but use their senses to feel and apprehend what it is to live as a Jew.

    On Sukkot the agenda is not so much a credal theory of Providence but a pulsating feeling of joy – taking in the atmosphere, handling the etrog and sensing its splendour, breathing the aroma and saying, “It’s great to be Jewish!”

    This doesn’t circumvent the existence of Jewish doctrines (the most famous are Maimonides’ 13 Principles) but it says, “Where you find Jewish beliefs is not in books but in life, not in propositions but in pulsation”.

    The Sukkot commandments arouse the Jewish heart so that the festival is liturgically called Z’man Simchatenu, “Our time of joy”, a description deriving from Deut. 16:15, which says, “You shall be extremely joyful”.

    In ancient days Sukkot was “the festival”, considered more joyous than the other festivals because it marked the end of the year’s crops.

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