“People of the Bike”
There are special days that we celebrate that we call Shabbat and Festivals (Chagim). Shabbat is every seventh day and the Festivals are scattered throughout the year. They are all holy days on which certain mundane activities are not allowed. However there is a fundamental and essential difference between Shabbat and the Festivals.
Picture a bicycle wheel. It has a rim and spokes. The rim is connected to the center of the wheel by the spokes. And each point on the rim is connected to the point next to it on the rim – thereby forming the circumference of the wheel.
The Jewish People are like all the points along the rim of the wheel. We are a nation of individuals who have a special relationship to all other members of our nation. We are all equidistant from the center since we are all equal.
However, besides the special relationship to others, we also have a direct “spoke-like” relationship with God. Each of us has a direct connection to the Center.
Shabbat is a day of rest, when the emphasis is on each individual having an opportunity to reflect on his or her relationship with God and purpose in this world. Each of us is a point on the rim with a spoke that connects us to the Center.
The Festivals — Succot, Passover and Shavuot — highlight a different aspect of our Judaism. They are times for us to unite together and observe these days as one Jewish nation, besides our being unique individuals. In this way, we are all like the points on the rim that are neighbors and connect to each other. And, of course, the entire rim connects to the Center as well.
We see this in the way we celebrate the Festivals differently than Shabbat. For example:
On the Festivals, unlike Shabbat, we are permitted to cook food, thereby easing and encouraging the hosting of guests to share our meals. We are also permitted to carry objects through public areas outside our homes on the Festivals, enabling us to bring food, games, books, etc. to share with our friends and neighbors. On Succot a person can fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in the succah without owning a personal succah. Many people eat with their neighbors or with the community in the succah built at the local synagogue. When the Templestood in Jerusalemall Jews from everywhere came to Jerusalemto celebrate the Festivals together.
There is a “duality” in the way we connect to G-d. Via both the Shabbat and the Festivals. Shabbat accents the individual’s relationship to G-d (the spoke), and the Festivals emphasize the national connection to G-d (the rim that binds us all to each other, and the rim itself is bound to the center as well). The word for Festival in Hebrew is “Chag”, which means circle — the “rim” of the wheel. The Jewish People as a nation.
May we all be blessed with a healthy, sweet and successful New Year, and may we always enjoy our special gifts of Shabbat and Fesitvals, and celebrate them joyfully, both individually and as a nation.