Three legs are all it takes to have balance…
Yes, we can ride a bike on two wheels… Or some of us on only one. And perhaps we can even juggle at the same time… But for the sake of this post, let us stick with threes.
In Pirkei Avos 1:2 we learn from Shimon HaTzaddik:
“On three things the world stands.
On service [of G-d],
And on acts of human kindness.”
“Return to the purity within yourself. Teshuva is the ultimate act of self-recognition, and the primary tool in self-perfection.”
“Teshuva is an intellectual process. It requires you to identify your obligations, understand your actions, recognize the consequences of your choices, and resolve to exercise your will over your future actions.”
“We focus on what is truly significant and important. What is the “service” that God demands of us? Clarity and focus.”
“The word tzedakah is often translated as “charity.” It is anything but. Tzedakah is “righteousness” ― doing the right thing.”
Thanks to Aish.com for this on the Pirkei Avos.
These ideas were mirrored today in the Pirkei Avos class taught by my friend and astounding intellect, Howard Witkin.
Yes, I want to be like him when I grow up. His knowledge is vast and deep and his class is always truly wonderful.
As we sat in his Sukkah…
(You spell it Succah. I spell it Sukkah. Let’s call the whole thing on…)
We discussed the three recent holidays and what they mean…
The perspective really hit home with me.
Rosh Hashanah is about celebrating Hashem… the fact that He is all and that He is one. It all starts with Hashem. Echad… Echad…
Yom Kippur is about us… as individuals. It is about taking stock, of both the good and the bad… being responsible for our actions. Repenting and asking for forgiveness… Giving forgiveness… and taking all of these lessons with us into the New Year. It is about hoping that our path will be different… or at least less cluttered with mistakes and errors in judgment.
Sukkot is about family… guests… the community. As Howard said, it is about moving into our little tent in the back and welcoming friends and strangers to share a meal with us, or simply spend some time within it… together.
And yes, we also discussed how fractured our community is right now… with Jews divided on the Iran deal and sadly, even more so now with the Russian bombing runs in Syria. These are dangerous times… and the time to come together as one is NOW. It is essential.
The physical is often fleeting… and is most definitely finite… but spirituality and Judaism is hopefully not. Yet this is up to all of us. We MUST come together.
As I drove around the Pico Robertson area, to do a quick errand at The Mitzvah Store, I was overcome by the number of Sukkahs… by the neighborhood and the community… and though I have been here many times before, and am spending more and more time here, it hit me in a way that it often does during a special Holiday… It reminded me and reinforced how beautiful and wonderful and vital and essential the Jewish community is.
As we celebrate Sukkot, let us remember our community… our family and friends… Let us remember and welcome our guests, by opening up our homes and our Sukkahs to those we know… and to those we may not.
These holidays are all about finding our spirituality… our balance.
So let us look to the pillars, learn from them, and let them support us, as we all support each other.