Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Succot Reflection on Happiness

Happiness seems to come in two flavors: "just because" and "because of". The "just because" variety is beyond reason. It's simply inherent. If you are spiritually alight, you are happy, The "because of" variety requires a life situation prop. The prop could be a new friend, a raise, an accomplishment, a new idea, a date, a marriage, etc. 

The festival of Succot offers both flavors of happiness. It is referred to in the Torah as the "harvest festival". It's the time of the year when we sit amid a vast amount of bounty and thank the One Who gave it to us. We begin the Holiday happy "because of". 

As we continue the festival into the second night, we arrive at the "Celebration of the water drawing". Our sages remark that anyone who has not seen this celebration has never ever seen happiness at all. This celebration is sheer happiness with abandon! It's a happiness "just because".

(Though this water drawing celebration took place in Jerusalem's Temple while it still stood, countless Jewish communities do have Succot celebrations named after this celebration. I am sure that if one is properly tuned in, one can experience a  sheer happiness with abandon during one of these Succoth celebrations.)

To me the lesson is, that sometimes happiness works like a ladder. It's possible that one may first need to experience a happiness  "because of" before experiencing a happiness of "just because". Therefore, it's good to latch onto any reason to be happy, even if it feels like an excuse, because it may an opening leading further to purer levels of happiness.



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