For Everything There Is A Season
Each of the Jewish holidays is characterized by a special biblical book (megillah). On Passover, we read Song Of Songs. On Shavuot, we read Ruth. On Sukkot, we read Ecclesiastes, known in Hebrew as “Kohelet,” the name by which Solomon calls himself in the book.
Ecclesiastes begins, “Vanity of vanity, says Kohelet, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” It then catalogs the many life philosophies and lifestyles its author, the King of Jerusalem, experimented with and ultimately concluded were vain and empty. For this reason, people often view Kohelet as pessimistic and downbeat.
Nothing is further from the truth. And that is illustrated by the fact that the sages instructed us to read it on Sukkot, the festival of our greatest simcha, joy. Far from being a depressing book, Kohelet is there to add to the simcha. It’s infused with a spirit of joy and optimism, and gives Sukkot a special flavor.
In order to penetrate and breakthrough to the beautiful, exhilarating message beneath the surface of Kohelet’s often complex imagery and language, we must analyze three key words — the Hebrew equivalents of “human,” “vanity” and “sun” – which are repeated throughout the entire work. Understanding these words in depth will provide us with the skeleton key to reveal the true message of this often misunderstood book.
Join Rabbi Fred Morgan AM on Zoom for a fascinating study of this incredible story.