The Weekly Verse by Rabbi Rotenberg


Sukkot: Get Outside!

September 29, 2023

Kohelet 12:12

וְיֹתֵ֥ר מֵהֵ֖מָּה בְּנִ֣י הִזָּהֵ֑ר עֲשׂ֨וֹת סְפָרִ֤ים הַרְבֵּה֙ אֵ֣ין קֵ֔ץ וְלַ֥הַג הַרְבֵּ֖ה יְגִעַ֥ת בָּשָֽׂר׃

A further word: Against them, my child, be warned! The making of many books is without limit. And much study is a wearying of the flesh.

Many are the reasons that we read the book of Kohelet on Sukkot. Ironically, this verse comes at the end of the book. “Stop studying!” says Kohelet. That’s enough reading. Of books, there are no limits. Of studying scrolls, there is no end. But wait a second – we rely on books to learn. Libraries from antiquity to today are storehouses of the wisdom of the ages. Without books, how do we seek wisdom?

Kohelet’s answer comes right at the beginning of the book. “I set my mind to study and probe with wisdom all that happens under the sun,” he says. Take a close look at the world around us, probe it, observe it, and take in its truth. There is much that we miss when our head is in a book. Sukkot is the holiday that we celebrate the idea expressed best by Mark Twain, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.”

Does that mean we should not read and study? Of course not. But we should not let that keep us from discovering the wisdom that is found outside the walls of the study hall. It’s for this reason that for eight days we live in a sukkah. This is the holiday that forces us to get outside, and learn something.

September 22, 2023 – Yom Kippur: A Day Like Purim Click here to read the full post.

September 15, 2023 – Rosh Hashanah: The Secret Message of the Shofar Click here to read the full post.

September 8, 2023 – Parshat Nitzavim: Closer Than We Know: No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. Click here to read the full post.

September 1, 2023 – Parshat Ki Tavo: Eyes to See: Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a mind to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. Click here to read the full post.

August 25, 2023 – Parshat Ki Teitzet: Please Put Your Shoes Away: If along the road you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. Click here to read the full post.

August 18, 2023 – Parshat Shoftim: Seeking AnswersIf a case is too baffling for you to decide, be it a controversy over homicide, civil law, or assault, matters of dispute in your courts, you shall promptly go to the place that the Lord your God will have chosen. Click here to read the full post.

August 11, 2023 – Parshat Re’eh: Anywhere, Anytime?Take care not to sacrifice your burnt offerings in any place you like. Click here to read the full post.

July 28, 2023 – Parshat Va’etchanan: One July 28, 2023: Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, The Lord is one. Click here to read the full post.

July 21, 2023 – Parshat Devarim: The Batman Effect July 21, 2023: Pick from each of your tribes candidates who are wise, discerning, and experienced, and I will place them as your heads. Click here to read the full post.

July 7, 2023 – Parshat Pinchas: Egalitarian July 7, 2023: Speak to the Israelite people as follows: “When one dies without leaving a son, you shall transfer his property to his daughter.”. Click here to read the full post.

May 13, 2022 – Parshat Emor: What We Don’t Do: On that same day you shall hold a celebration; it shall be a sacred occasion for you; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a law for all time in all your settlements, throughout the ages. Click here to read the full post.

May 6, 2022 – Parshat Kedoshim: The True Meaning of Tzedakah: “You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin. I the Lord am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt. Click here to read the full post.

April 29, 2022 – Parshat Acharei Mot: Starts With You: “Aaron is to offer his own bull of sin offering, to make expiation for himself and for his household.!Click here to read the full post.

April 21, 2022 – Passover days 7 and 8: Running Toward: “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward!Click here to read the full post.

April 15, 2022 – Passover: Saw you in Egypt, From the Passover Haggadah: “In each and every generation a person must view themselves as though they personally left EgyptClick here to read the full post.

April 8, 2022 – Parshat Metzorah: Nerves: The owner of the house shall come and tell the Kohen, saying, “Something like a plague has appeared in my house.”Click here to read the full post.

April 1, 2022 – Parshat Tazria: The Gossip Challenge: “The person shall be impure as long as the disease is present. Being impure, that person shall dwell apart, in a dwelling outside the camp.” Click here to read the full post.

March 25, 2022 – Parshat Shmini: The Other Other White Meat: “But these you may eat among all the winged swarming things that walk on fours: all that have, above their feet, jointed legs to leap with on the ground.” Click here to read the full post.

March 18, 2022 – Parshat Tzav: The Eternal Flame: “A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to be extinguished.Click here to read the full post.

March 11, 2022 – Parshat Vayikra: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Hooves: “The burnt offering shall be flayed and cut up into sections.” Click here to read the full post.

March 4, 2022 – Parshat Pekudei: Have a Cookie: “Then they brought the Mishkan to Moses, with the Tent and all its furnishings: its clasps, its planks, its bars, its posts, and its sockets.” Click here to read the full post.

February 25, 2022 – Parshat Vayakhel: Build: “Moses had this proclamation made throughout the camp: “Let no one make further gifts for the sanctuary!” So the people stopped bringing.” Click here to read the full post.

February 17, 2022Parshat Ki Tisa: Searching: “Moses would take the Tent and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. It was called the Tent of Meeting, and whoever sought God would go out to the Tent of Meeting that was outside the camp.”Click here to read the full post.

February 11, 2022Parshat Tetzaveh: Pure, Beaten Olive Oil: “Instruct the Israelites to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling an eternal lamp.” Click here to read the full post.

February 4, 2022 – Parshat Terumah: Buildings: “See and make according to the form that you are shown on the mountain.Click here to read the full post.

January 28, 2022 – Parshat Mishpatim: Strangers: You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Click here to read the full post.

January 21, 2022 – Parshat Yitro: Closer Than We Think: “And the LORD said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.” Then Moses reported the people’s words to the LORD.Click here to read the full post.

January 14, 2022 – Parshat Beshalach: Seeking and Finding: “Some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found nothing.” Click here to read the full post.

January 7, 2022 – Parshat Bo: The Ninth Plague “A person could not see their brother, and for three days no one got up from where they were; but all the Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings.” Click here to read the full post.

December 17, 2021 – Parshat Vayechi: Love and Memory LossNoticing Joseph’s sons, Israel asked, “Who are these? Click here to read the full post.

December 10, 2021 – Parshat Vayigash: Believing the Unbelievable “For the famine has covered the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting.” Click here to read the full post.

December 3, 2021 – Parshat Miketz: God’s LanguageAnd Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same: God has told Pharaoh what He is about to do.” Click here to read the full post.

November 26, 2021 – Parshat Vayeshev: The Shamash “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” Click here to read the full post.

November 19, 2021 – Parshat Vayishlach: Gifts “But Jacob said, ‘No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you have received me favorably.’” Click here to read the full post.

November 12, 2021 – Parhat Vayeitzei: What’s in a Name? “She conceived again and bore a son, and declared, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing. Click here to read the full post.

November 5, 2021 – Parshat Toldot: Food “Prepare a dish for me such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my innermost blessing before I die.” Click here to read the full post.

October 30, 2021 – Parshat Chayei Sarah: Three Years Since Pittsburgh / ” Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebecca as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.” Click here to read the full post.

October 23, 2021 – Parshat Vayeira / “And Abraham named that site “the Lord will see” which why it is said, On the mount of the LORD there is vision.” Click here to read the full post.

October 15, 2021- Parshat Lech Lecha / Birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.” Click here to read the full post.

October 8, 2021 – Parshat Noah / “Come out of the ark, together with your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives.” Click here to read the full post.

October 1, 2021 – Parshat Bereshit / “This is the story of the generations of Adam. On the day God created Adam, God made him in the image of God.” Click here to read the full post.

September 24, 2021 – Shabbat Sukkot: Put the Load Right on Me / “And God said, I will go in the lead and will lighten your burden.” Click here to read the full post.

September 17, 2021 – Parshat Ha’azinu: Rain Plan /May my teaching come down as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, like showers on young growth, like droplets on the grass.” Click here to read the full post.

September 10, 2021 – Parshat Vayeilech: United We Stand / “When all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place that God will choose, you shall read this Teaching aloud in the presence of all Israel.” Click here to read the full post.

September 3, 2021 – Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech: Hidden Things / “The hidden acts belong to Hashem our God; but the overt acts are for us and our children to forever apply all the words of this Teaching.” Click here to read the full post.

August 27, 2021 – Parshat Ki Tavo: Heads and Tails / “He [your foe] shall be your creditor, but you shall not be his; he shall be the head and you the tail.” Click here to read the full post.

August 20, 2021 – Parshat Ki Teitzei: Grounded / “You shall have a spike in addition to your gear, and it will be that when you sit outside, you shall dig with it; you shall cover up your excrement.” Click here to read the full post.

August 14, 2021Parshat Shoftim: The Warrior’s Armor / “When you take the field against your enemies, and see horses and chariots – forces larger than yours – have no fear of them, for the Lord your God is with you, the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Click here to read the full post.