Friday, October 18, 2019 /19 Tishrei, 5780
Parashat Hol MaMo-eid Sukkot Exodus 33:12-34:26
On Sukkot, there is a tradition to invite honored guests into the sukkah. Tonight we are blessed with three such guests: incredible men who have offered to share their stories about how they became homeless, and how they rebuilt their lives since. One of them is the Temple’s very own custodian, Ron Bachmeier. They remind us of the power of faith and community, as well as the uncomfortable truth that life does not always go as planned.
Each Sukkot I am reminded of the story of King Solomon and the magic ring.
Sukkot was approaching, and King Solomon wanted to wear something special this year. The king asked his minister to find a magical ring, with the power to make a happy person sad, and a sad person happy. The minister searched far and wide for months. Finally, the night before Sukkot, he walked into one of the poorest quarters in Jerusalem. He noticed a man selling odd pieces of jewelry on shabby carpet. Desperate for help, the advisor asked, “By any chance, do you have a ring with the power to make a happy person forget his joy, and a broken-hearted person to forget his sorrows?” The merchant took out a plain gold ring and began to engrave something on it. He then smiled, as he handed the ring to the advisor. On it were three simple words, Gam zeh ya’avor, which means “This too shall pass.” The advisor had found the perfect ring. As King Solomon placed the ring on his finger, and was immediately humbled, and grateful.
The words “This too shall pass” have the power to give hope to all those who are going through difficult times. They remind us that with time, and a great deal of effort our circumstances may change for the better. These words similarly remind us not to take for granted any of the blessings we have been given. The tradition of living in impermanent structures (sukkot) during this holiday reminds us of how vulnerable we are to circumstances beyond our control, and that in the end, all people deserve dignity and respect. It is my prayer that our Sukkot experience moves us to be grateful for all that we have and compels us to care for our fellow human beings who smile when they hear the words “This too shall pass.”
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sukkot Sameach,