Rabbi Marc D. Angel, the founder of the New York-based Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals in New York shares a poignant thought about the holiday of Sukkot. He reflects upon the holiday’s alternate name, The Time of our Happiness in his article, Happiness: Thoughts for Succoth.
Rabbi Angel points to a tradition that suggests our forefather Jacob was 15 years old when his grandfather Abraham passed away. That Abraham’s and Jacob’s lives—and beliefs, values and ideals—overlapped leads Rabbi Angel to observe: “when grandparents and grandchildren share ideas and ideals, this is a sign of continuity, love… and genuine happiness. When there is a “generation gap,” there is sadness and alienation.
“The relationship between Abraham and Jacob suggests the key to the future redemption of Israel—when the traditions are shared, loved and experienced by the generations of grandparents and grandchildren. A teacher of mine once quipped: Who is a Jew? Someone with Jewish grandchildren! While this is not an objectively true statement, it underscores a vital principle in the Jewish adventure: the importance of transmitting our teachings and values through the generations.
“The genuine happiness that derives from family and national continuity does not just happen by chance. It is the result of deep devotion, strong commitment, and many sacrifices…Happiness entails a genuine and deep sense of wholeness. It is not attained casually…Succoth, the festival of our happiness, reminds us to strive for genuine happiness, to be committed to transmitting our traditions through the generations.”
The implications for GAJE of Rabbi Angel’s thoughts on genuine happiness are obvious: Rabbi’s Angel’s idea of genuine happiness stems from a sense of family and national continuity. Continuity stems from devotion, commitment, and sacrifice, the very qualities – we can all agree – that are required of families and especially the community in which they live, in providing a system of affordable Jewish education.
Shabbat Shalom. Mo’adim l’Simchah