I recently read that historically, the Jews of Salonica held a beautiful tradition at the end of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. As the final prayer of Adon Olam began, the melody would transition to a minor tone. The children would tearfully sing, bidding Sukkot adieu.
When we begin the week of Sukkot, we attempt to feel joy by sitting in a sukkah, exposed to the vulnerabilities of the outside world. At the end of the holiday season, we do the opposite. Feeling a sense of incredible delight, consumed with frivolity and merriment, we pause and temper our joy by changing our melodies, cognizant of those that exist within states of brokenness. A realization that our sense of joy should never out shadow the pain of another.
The Talmud tells a tale of a father throwing a wedding feast for his son. The party gets out of hand: too much drinking, revelry and noise. In response, the father takes a wine goblet off the shelf and smashes the glass on the floor. The wedding festivities immediately silenced.
Some say we break a glass at a wedding to remember the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. Others believe we hear the shattering in order to hear the cries of the outside world, vowing to repair that which is broken. With either motivation, we understand life is meant to hold joy in one hand and someone’s sorrow in the other.
This year may our joys be heightened. But may our sensitivities to those in need…be even higher.