Message for the Shabbat of Sukkot: Be Joyful and Playful!

Posted on September 24, 2021 by Rabbi Arnie Gluck

There is a Chasidic story about a beloved rebbe who passed away and was succeeded by his son. Though only a child, the new rebbe had already been recognized as a wondrous prodigy. People came from all over to ask him their most personal and difficult questions, and his answers did not disappoint them. He tirelessly served his followers, soon becoming beloved by all those in the community.

Yet every afternoon, his father’s closest disciples would mysteriously lead him to a place that no one ever discovered. Every afternoon, for several hours, the young rebbe’s whereabouts were a mystery to all.

Legends abounded about the miracles that he wrought during these times.

“Surely,” claimed one of his followers, “he is travelling in the most holy of worlds.”

Another asserted with the greatest confidence, “He is praying for all those who are suffering. He doesn’t want us to see his tears.” They argued incessantly over his possible feats. Was he studying the secrets of the Kabbalah? Was he bringing the Messiah?

Years passed, and the child-rebbe became aged. He now realized that his time was approaching to be called to the heavenly court.

His faithful followers approached him one last time. “Rebbe,” they hesitantly asked, “can you finally reveal to us where you went during those times when the advisers stole you away?” What were you doing? All of these years, we could never truly fathom your mysterious disappearance.”

With benevolent love, the Rebbe’s eyes caressed his followers. “You must understand,” he began, “that my father was the wisest of men and the most loving of fathers. He knew what my future held for me. Therefore, he carefully bade his advisers to carry me away and occupy me every afternoon of my childhood. They would bring me to a room and there they would give me a box. What was in the box? Marbles. Every afternoon, my father wanted to be certain that I would play with marbles.”

For in the new rebbe’s religious life, which was filled with learning and observance, in which he devoted himself to the needs of his community and God’s commandments, he was given an opportunity to play.

On this Festival of Sukkot, we are commanded to rejoice and be joyful. It is a powerful and important reminder that God intended for life to be filled with joy and celebration — and time to play. So whatever you are drawn to, be it marbles, soccer balls, taking a walk or a ride, or any other joyful pastime, let us all heed the call to make time to play.

V’samachta b’chagecha v’hayita ach sameach, “Rejoice in your Festivals and being exceedingly happy.”

Shabbat shalom and chag Sukkot sameach!

Rabbi Arnie Gluck