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Dvar Torah - Haazinu

Sukkot is the "time of our happiness," the most festive period in the Jewish calendar. It is characterised by parties, living out in our gardens, song, and joyous prayer. Our most iconic prayer of thanksgiving and joy is the Hallel, and indeed, almost uniquely, we recite it in its entirety every day of Sukkot.

Towards the end of Hallel, we find the phrase "Please G-d, save us! Please G-d, rescue us!" Why do we make a desperate plea for salvation in a prayer of thanks and happiness? It seems out of place.

In our religion, we believe that we are all completely dependent and reliant upon G-d for our continued existence. We need G-d to save us every second, and we rejoice that up until now, he has. That feeling of reliance upon the Almighty is heightened by the festival of Sukkot, when all of the trappings of human achievement are stripped away, and we stand exposed to the elements.

During Sukkot, there is a very unusual halacha; if the conditions (and weather) make the Sukkah too uncomfortable, we are exempted from the mitzvah. If we get wet, we don't have to live in the Sukkah. The Torah features such a sweeping exemption for discomfort in no other place. As such, we wait to see if Hashem will allow us to fulfil the mitzvah of dwelling in our temporary homes today or if it will rain. Jewish happiness is about dependence, dependence on G-d. Through that dependence, we find connection and love, and we continue to build our relationship with our Father after the momentous and iconic Days of Awe.

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