By Rabbi Freedman
The most important day for New Year’s resolutions is January 2nd. Not January 1st.
On January 1st – New Year’s Day – we may have resolved to do something better, like going to the gym more. We may have even exercised because work and school were canceled. But what happens on January 2nd? When work and school resume and you have to squeeze the workout into your busy day? To create the habit, you have to make it happen, not wait for it to happen. What happens on January 2nd is a better indicator of the year ahead than January 1st.
Why does Sukkot, which concludes with Simchat Torah, occur now? Haven’t we been in shul enough over Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur? Why not celebrate Sukkot in another month without any holidays?
I believe the answer is because Sukkot is like January 2nd. Together, the High Holidays mark not only the beginning of the year but a clean wiping of the slate. Sukkot offers the opportunity to start the year on the right foot and create the right habits: with Mitzvot, with joining as community in shul, with joining friends and family for quality time in the Sukkah. It’s the logical follow up to the High Holidays because Sukkot emphasizes what we think about on the High Holidays: relationships, community, and G-d. Maybe that’s why we’re supposed to begin building the Sukkah – even in a token way – the night of Yom Kippur break-fast.
I wish you a joyful Sukkot!