“Only Joy”


Alone among all the holidays, on Sukkot we are commanded not only to celebrate but also to have “only joy” (Deut. 16:15).  How is it possible for us to have only joy in our hearts, when we know that along with all of the wonderful things in our lives there is also the brokenness and pain of living in a world that is so far from perfect?  The ancient rabbis taught that only the angels are capable of having one thought or one feeling that completely occupies their being; humans, by contrast, are always a mixture of emotions and thoughts.  In that context, what we are being asked to do on Sukkot is to imagine, even if only for an instant, what it would be like to lay down our burdens and be filled completely with joy.  We are being asked to imitate the angels, focusing on that one emotion to the exclusion of all else.  That one moment of pure joy can give us the strength to get through all of the other moments that we know will come.  So may we all have the courage to try to fill our hearts with joy, just for a second.  And may it be a moment of renewal for us all.