Sukkot – The celebration of faith
The faith of the people on the occasion of their departure from Egypt, the foundational event of Israel, has two aspects. On the one hand, the biblical text relates that after having crossed the Sea of Reeds on the path that God had opened for them on the seabed, "they believed in God and in Moses His servant" (Exodus 14:31). It was the climax of a set of actions through which the Creator interceded in history to free the Children of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. However, we can distinguish another type of manifestation of faith in the attitude of that generation – a faith that implies not only recognizing what is passively received from God, but actively trying to achieve the objectives God set.
The departure from Egypt and entering the desert with the elderly and infants required an active kind of faith involving courage and decisiveness. Seven hundred years after that struggle, the prophet Jeremiah exclaimed that God remembered the love of the youthful people of Israel. It was a love in which Israel was likened to a bride in love, who follows her beloved into the desert, barren and desolate though it may be (2:2).
It is this second, active faith that is remembered in Sukkot. The people leave the solid houses in which they dwell and movie into a flimsy cabin (sukkah), whose roof must be made with a lattice through which sunlight and starlight can pass.
Additionally, “sukkah” is also a name by which the Temple of Jerusalem is called, the liturgical center of the faith of biblical Israel (Psalm 27: 5; 76: 3).
Sukkot is the time when the agricultural year begins (Exodus 23:16; 34:22). This also can represent faith: the sowing and waiting for the seed to germinate, with hope that the rains are sufficient, and that the months ahead are free of pestilence.
After the spiritual experiences of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, comes this time of tranquility in which, with a renewed spirit, we seek to live lives that are founded on both passive and active faith.