This is the year to be an influencer of goodness: Rabbi Levi Greenberg – El Paso Times

Posted By on October 8, 2022

Rabbi Levi Greenberg| Guest columnist

Holidays are generally the same every year. We eat the same foods and observe religious traditions, retell the same stories, and contemplate their messages. But the theme of the Sukkot festival changed drastically once every seven years in biblical times and has special lessons for us today as well.

On Sunday evening, Jews around the world will begin celebrating the festival of Sukkot. Sukkot means huts and is observed by dining outdoors in a specially constructed Sukkah (hut) covered by greenery and foliage. We eat in the Sukkah for eight days to recall how G-d miraculously provided our ancestors their needs in the desert for forty years after their exodus from Egyptian slavery.

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Sukkot is scheduled during the fall, after the crops are gathered and stored. Every year, Jews in ancient Israel would make a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to thank G-d for the years harvest and pray for a blessed coming year.

Once every seven years, however, the theme of the Sukkot pilgrimage changed. Upon settling in the Land of Israel the primary Jewish occupation was farming, and Judaism has a rigid seven-year agricultural cycle for farming in Israel. Fields are worked and crops are harvested for six years, but in the seventh year there is a religiously imposed sabbatical from field work. The fields lay fallow and wild crops are not harvested.

Following the sabbatical year, every Jewish man, woman and child would come to Jerusalem for Sukkot. But they did not come that year in appreciation for the bountiful harvest since there was none. Instead, they assembled in the Temple courtyard to hear the king read selected chapters from the Torah. This event was called Hakhel which is the Hebrew word for assembly.

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Hakhel was not a time for learning new ideas or discovering old traditions. It was meant to replicate the time when the Israelites stood united at Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments. When they accepted the divine code of life and committed to live by it.

The sabbatical year just concluded in Israel, and this years Sukkot is the anniversary of Hakhel. Although it cannot be practically observed in its biblical format in the absence of the Holy Temple, its energy is available to us this year, just like all biblical ideas continue to be spiritually and personally relevant, everywhere and at all times. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson called for the year of Hakhel to be utilized as a time for people to come together to be inspired to higher purpose.

Doing Hakhel isnt complicated. You need three things; people (a minimum of two), an influencer and meaningful inspiration to share. Family dinners, business meetings, parties and outings are perfect times to be an influencer of positive ideas and to inspire others to greater awareness of G-d and to do more acts of goodness and kindness.

Everyone can and should do it. This is the year for you to be an influencer of goodness. Good luck!

To learn more about Sukkot please visit

Rabbi Levi Greenberg is associate rabbi at Chabad Lubavitch of El Paso.

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This is the year to be an influencer of goodness: Rabbi Levi Greenberg - El Paso Times

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