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Jacob Rappaport: Eilu D’varim

This week, Jewish communities all over the world are exhaling, having made it to the end of the High Holiday season. Today begins Sukkot, an eight-day festival filling a number of purposes: the Biblical account of surviving 40 years in the wilderness; the bounty of the fall harvest; and, perhaps most importantly, the miracle of life in all its fragile, temporal beauty. We build wooden huts covered with tree boughs and welcome in all sorts of guests for meals, merriment, and maybe even a sleepover. The Kabbalistic-minded among us even welcome in the spirits of our ancestors, called ushpizin, a different couple each day. On this first day of Sukkot, we welcome Abraham and Sarah, the first Jews, whose tent was open on all four sides and whose legendary hospitality sets the best example I know of how best to welcome guests. It’s a great mitzvah, of course, and it’s listed among “things without measure” in this classic cantorial setting of a Talmudic text equating all the most important mitzvot to Torah study, “which is equal to them all because it leads to them all.”

“Eilu D’varim” (These Are the Things) by Jacob Rappaport, sung by Mordechai Hershman

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