Not everyone knows that Sukkot is known as the “Season of our Joy.” This year, given the unstable economic situation in the United States, as well as around the world, however, I think many people are experiencing it as the season of our fear. However, the fact that this Jewish holiday is characterized by joyous expression actually offers us a way out of our fear and an opportunity to allow in and to create something better than the current volatile economic situation both on a personal, national and global level.
First, let me say that I, too, am finding this a bit of a fear-filled season. My husband has a job, although he is involved in the process of helping sell it. While he stands to gain financially from that sale, his success will land him without a job eventually. No one these days wants to be without a job. And I can tell you that living here in Northern California, the thought of my husband being without a job – for the third time in seven years – sends waves of fear through my body. We possess a mortgage of a size no one would desire. We also have debt for the first time in our 20 years of marriage. We have two children whose “activities,” which represent their passions and their pre-college training/education (one is a dance and the other an artist and swimmer), are eating our disposable income alive. And then there are the normal and abnormal expenses – utilities, gas (ever rising in price), the new well pump, property taxes, bills for two hospital stays, yearbooks for the kids, doctor visits, a tux and a formal dress for homecoming, insurance, etc. And, my income as a freelance writer and nonfiction book editor is sporadic at best; at the moment I have only one slow-working client and only one prospect.
At this moment, if you asked me where my level of fear about finances lies on a scale of 1-10, I’d have to say at least 8 if not 9.
I have other fears as well. My marriage is having a few problems. That scares me.
My husband has an enlarged heart from stress at work and in general, and he does nothing at all to take care of himself or to reduce his stress level. That scares me.
My blood pressure has risen over the last few years, and I have no time to exercise or meditate or care for myself in a way that would help myself lower my blood pressure or generally become healthier. That scares me.
My son was sick this summer, and his spleen has not gone back to a normal size. That scares me.
I could go on, but I won’t, and here’s why: I firmly believe that focusing on our fears simply causes them to manifest and creates more things to fear. And that’s where Sukkot comes in. Sukkot provides an antidote to our fears and to manifesting not only the things we fear but more things to worry about.
When we feel good – happy or joyous – we stop feeling afraid. We also stop feeling any other negative emotions that go with fear, such as anxiety, depression, sadness, or anger. Instead we simply feel good. And when we feel good, when we feel joyous, we allow in good things. We shift our energy from being negative and fear based to being positive and joy based, and from this place we can attract things with similar energy – things we want rather than things we fear and don’t want.
We also allow ourselves to focus upon something other than our fears, which allows us to create, or manifest, something other than our fears. It allows us to combine our feelings of joy with our thoughts of the things we desire, which results in us manifesting more of what we want and less of what we don’t.
For those of you who have heard about deliberate creation, or what I call conscious creation, Sukkot represents a chance to practice this principle, also called the Law of Attraction. However, this principle, often though of as secular, exists within Judaism. I teach it as the Kabbalah of Conscious Creation.
Beyond my own teachings, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught that fear can only be elevated through joy (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom). He also taught, “A person walks in life on a very narrow bridge. The most important thing is not to be afraid.” (The Empty Chair, Finding Hope and Joy) A more accurate translation, however is, “The most important thing is not to makeyourself afraid.” Don’t focus on your fear; don’t allow yourself to dwell on your anxious thoughts and to develop negative feelings to go with them. Rebbe Nachman was known to say that we are where our thoughts are…
The easiest way to not make yourself afraidis to make yourself joyous instead. In the words of another mystic, Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry, be happy.” And that’s the message of Sukkot 2008. Go into the sukkah, that flimsy little booth and look up at the stars, “shake, shake, shake, shake your lulav,” (sung to the melody of KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake Your Booty”). And, while you are there, as my friend Rabbi Jack Gabriel likes to sing, “Do a little dance, sing a little song…up with joy!”
Rebbe Nachman stresses the importance of this task: “Finding true joy is the hardest of all spiritual tasks. If the only way to make yourself happy is by doing something silly, do it.” Yes, Rabbi Jack says the same thing, “Act a little silly…up with joy! Iv du et HaShem b’simcha!” Serve God with joy. Or as Rabbi Jack says, “Serve your Inner Spirit with Joy.”
Yes, that’s the ticket into the “booth” this Sukkot. Joy. Leave your fear by the entrance (a sukkah has no door), and enter with joy. Leave with your Inner Spirit filled with joy, so you go into the world to create more joy – and less fear. Then Sukkot – and the year to come – truly becomes the Season of Our Joy. And, oh, how we need joy to create a transformation to world-wide joy now.