Sunday, October 16, 2011

Take a Step Back

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself so caught up in my own perspective that I just need someone to come along and look me in the eye and tell me, “Snap out of it!” Well, enter the chag of Sukkot. Sukkot is all about taking a step back and looking at things from a new perspective.

Come on, leave your comfort zone, and step out to look at life from a new angle. It might not be comfortable, and there might be mosquitos or bees or rain or wind. But let’s get some new perspective on life. Why? Because the result is happiness, as Sukkot is called “zman simchateinu,” the time of our happiness.

Which is why one might find it ironic that during this time of happiness, Sukkot, we read what seems to be the most depressing sefer in all of Torah: Kohelet. But the message of Kohelet is the same message of Sukkot: Take a step back, get some perspective, and figure out what is really important in life. Life that is “tachat hashemesh,” that is under the sun, part of the physical world, is only about the moment. Things in the physical world come and go. Sure, pyshical pleasures, such as a nice delicious meal is good at the time, but life moves on. It is only “tachat hashamayim” under the shamayim, where there is Yirat Shamayim, where there is purpose that lasts forever. Of course you should enjoy the physical world right now, but realize that like the sun which rises and sets, it comes and goes. Focus on the things that last forever.

Another thing that Sukkot makes me think about is what I wrote here about trusting in Hashem and not in physical buildings. There was one day during the Chag when the wind was so strong and our Sukkah started swaying and I was afraid it would fall down, but it didn’t. It was not only because the Sukkah itself was strong, but because Hashem was protecting us.

When we step out of our comfort zone, it is not always so pleasant. We might discover things we don’t want to know, like that maybe we are wrong. Maybe we have been looking at things the wrong way. Maybe we are not who we think we are, maybe we need to change. But once we see things with new eyes, we have the ability to go forward and not just stay stuck where we are. We can take charge of our life and shift our priorities. Realize what is truly important and what is not quite as important.

Happiness is about changing perspective and looking at things differently. It is not always easy, and in fact, mostly it is not easy, and we have to work to get there.

May we all use this Chag HaSukkot, Zman Simchateinu, to discover a new perspective on our lives, one that will give us clarity, and give us the vision that we need to move forward in the right direction. May we take this chance to re-evaluate our priorities in life. And may this newfound perspective lead us to true happiness.



  1. I really enjoyed your post, especially the Kohelet/Sukkot connection!

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful and generous post! I hear you about the confusion and reconsidering the way we've been perceiving our purpose and direction. Hatzlacha and related...

  3. Stern Grad: Where are you?
    It has been almost a year since you posted a message.

  4. My New Hashkafah of Shidduchim :-)

    My new hashkafah of shidduchim is thanking and praising HASHEM always :-)

    Even when my dating experiences are far from pleasant, I realize that HASHEM is guiding my life with His infinite wisdom and abundant love, and exact precision that only He is capable of :-)

    HASHEM always knows what is truly good for me, even when I do not :-)

    Often what I need most is atonement and humility, so G_d gives me those precious things through unpleasant dating experiences :-)

    I now realize that I must always thank HASHEM for ALL of my dating experiences, because even the worst dates are for my eternal benefit, because they provide me with precious atonement and humility :-)

    Tractate Avot teaches that the reward for a good deed is proportionate to its difficulty; by giving me difficult dating experiences, HASHEM is providing me with greater reward for Olam HaBa, in addition to precious atonement and humility :-)

    G_d loves me even more than I love myself, and He would never give me an unpleasant dating experience unless it was for my eternal benefit in both Olam HaZeh and Olam HaBa :-)


    Thank you for all my dating experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant or mediocre :-)
    You are always guiding me with endless wisdom and love; You always help me and give me everything I need :-)

    I regret all the times I complained;
    instead of complaining, I should have been busy thanking You.


  6. B"H
    Mediator Seeks Jewess for a Jew

    I seek a mate for my friend. She should be religious, wanting to take her man to greater spiritual heights as both scale up their commitments to Torah and mitzvot. I play the role of "shadchan" (mediator) at no charge. If I feel it worthy I'll put both in contact. My friend knows nothing of this.

    Her minimum requirements: She's a proud Jew; Trusts G-d and believes in divine providence; Rejects the compromise in the "conservative" or "reform" spin; Lights Shabbos candles; Younger than he is; Healthy; Health-minded; Fit and willing to relocate.

    My friend runs a successful business in Northeast suburbia. He's 43, 5' 9"; Clean-shaven; Never married; American-bred. Visited Israel, but speaks only English. Exercises, is politically conservative, has common sense. He's friendly, upright, gentlemanly and won't waste time. Has will-power. Does not overeat. He became attuned to orthodox spirituality several years ago. He admires Chabad and its ideology. He dons tefillin daily and attends Torah lectures.

    Are you, or do you know, such a lady? Tell me about her. Email me at Please edit your letter a few times before you finally send it. Be honest.


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