Sukkot is called z’man simchateinu, a time of happiness. The Torah commands us, v’samachta b’chagecha, you should rejoice in your festival. Yet, this week has been one of sadness. A short litany of events; personal loss in our family and community, natural disasters around the world, and the worst mass shooting on American soil. How can we sit in our sukkah this evening and fulfill this commandment to rejoice?
The real question is, “What is happiness?”
The Vilna Gaon teaches that simcha, joy, is an inner state of happiness, rather than an outward expression. Sukkot is a time set aside to restore joy and God-consciousness to the world. The sukkah is a gift. As we sit within its fragile walls and under its porous roof, surrounded by friends, family and community, we recognize our vulnerabilities and discover that in the same moment we have the ability to both laugh and cry. Yes, we can be sad…and we can be happy too.