Creating Sacred Spaces

Posted on September 29, 2023
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Dr. Eliezer Jones

Leadership encompasses creating a professional space that nurtures, supports, inspires, and adds meaning. It compels individuals to embrace the organization’s mission while acknowledging their unique strengths towards that mission. This is the essence of leadership and the message of Sukkos.

Every year, I deliver my “Sukkah is Hashem’s Hug” D’var Torah in my Sukkah, marking the transition from the intense period of atonement during Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the days in between. This time can leave us drained and uncertain about the results of our efforts.

Shortly after Yom Kippur and this intense period, we step into a temporary dwelling filled with holiness. Though it logically fits in spring, commemorating the Exodus when we first lived in temporary huts, Hashem commands it in the fall, testing our faith as most of us enter the Sukkah during cold weather. This effort brings great rewards —

Hashem’s embrace. Hashem is reassuring us with the Sukkah, saying, “I will take care of you. You’re in my house now, and everything will be okay.” It’s a spiritual embrace of floppy walls and a branch-filled roof.

This is why Sukkos is known as Z’man Simchasseinu (the time of joy). We enter the Sukkah, recognizing our deep connection with Hashem forged between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and we celebrate it.

But what about when we leave the Sukkah? Do we just wait until next year? Absolutely not. The message of Hashem’s “hug” can extend into our permanent homes, workplaces, and lives. Like Hashem, we should create spaces that foster warmth and nurture those around us. Is our home a sanctuary? Do we approach colleagues with care and compassion? Do we create a supportive atmosphere for those we supervise? Are the teenagers who join our gatherings fully accepted? If we can answer “yes’ to these questions, we’ve absorbed the message of Sukkos — a message for us at NCSY and for all of humanity.

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains (click here), Sukkos is for the Jewish people as well as all of humanity. We know why it is for the Jewish people, but it is also the holiday that we pray for rain which is life-giving and essential for all. So, as we continue to grow our leadership skills, may this Sukkos be one that propels our impact globally and may Hashem continue to embrace us all.