What the World Values Survey Association could have learned from the Feast of Tabernacles
The sages of the Talmud address the question of happiness with pithy insightfulness: Who is wealthy? The one who is happy with his portion. In contrast to the researchers who concluded that wealth produces happiness, the sages observe that happiness is the source of true wealth. One need not look far to discover that many wealthy people endure miserable lives, where many who barely scrape by enjoy lives of joy and fulfillment.
This week, Jews around the world observe the holiday of Sukkos, described by the sages as zman simchaseinu — the season of our happiness. It's a curious appellation for a holiday characterized by exposure to the cool winds of approaching winter beneath a roof of palm branches and bamboo, without either the comforts of the living room or the amusement of electronic entertainment.
The sukkah is a microcosm of the world — unfinished and incomplete. It is here, sitting in his humble sukkah, that a Jew today can experience true happiness by rediscovering the unique sense of meaning that comes from being a partner in Creation.