Sign In Forgot Password

Welcoming Joy

August 23, 2023


Rabbi Linda Potemken

“Happy Yom Kippur” is not a phrase that rolls off the tongue. We wish each other an easy fast or a meaningful day, and these are appropriate salutations. Yet contrary to popular belief, Yom Kippur has been understood as one of the most joyful days on our Jewish calendar.    The Talmud teaches that it is deeply joyful as it contains the elements of pardon and forgiveness. It is a day where we can feel the joy that accompanies cleansing our souls, repairing and letting go of mistakes, and renewing our good intentions and commitments.  It turns out that joy, simcha in Hebrew, is a deep Jewish value.

Sukkot, following on the heels of Yom Kippur, is referred to as the season of our rejoicing.  The simcha of Sukkot comes through connecting with others (hospitality), embracing nature and simplicity, and through practicing gratitude and generosity.  Ironically, we are led to simcha by embracing the challenging existential truths of impermanence and vulnerability through our days in the sukkah.

Our holiday cycle ends on Simchat Torah, where we joyfully celebrate the Torah with dance and song. We haven’t fully entered the new year until we have spun with the scroll in our arms, finished reading Deuteronomy and begun the opening verses of Genesis.   

I look forward to seeing you on Rosh Hashanah and to moving through the full holiday cycle together. Wishing you a year that is sweet, healing and joyful.

Thu, November 30 2023 17 Kislev 5784