Monday, September 27, 2010

Sukkos and Going Extreme

As we celebrate Sukkos, it is interesting to point out a few things that happen in the sky this time of year. As we know, there are two holidays in the year that have seven days, Pesach and Sukkos (Shmini Atzeres is an independent holiday). Interestingly, both begin at the first full moon after an equinox. Pesach starts on the 15 of Nisan which is the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox and Sukkos starts on the 15 of Tishrei which is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox.

The two equinoxes are very similar in that they both start seasons that have moderate weather, spring and autumn. Also, during both of these times the days and nights are relatively equal at approximately twelve hours each. After Pesach the days will get longer and the weather hotter, and after Sukkos it is the nights that get longer and it becomes bitter cold (for northern latitudes, the opposite is true for southern latitudes). Both of the holidays display a time when a new shift in the yearly cycle is happening. Both also show a time of moderation prior to things becoming extreme.

The idea of moderation and balance is found throughout more phenomena than just the weather. Firstly, throughout any given month one can see an apparent imbalance between day and night with the sun and moon. The sun is always full, yet the moon (the sun's counterpart) is only full for one day. The moon also is seen sometimes during the daytime. This creates a situation where it seems that day is a little more weighted than night. It has the bigger celestial object and it also sometimes steals the moon from the night. It is only when the moon is full that the two are in balance. There is one big full object in the day and one at night since the full moon will never be seen in daytime. Both Pesach and Sukkos begin on the day of a full moon.

In addition, the sun is higher in the sky in the summer and lower in the winter. The moon does the exact opposite, it is higher in the winter and lower in the summer. The twelve signs of the zodiac follow suit with those that are out during the daytime following the sun's height and those at night with the moon. All these objects are at the midpoint between the high and low at the time of the two equinoxes. Thus displaying balance during Pesach and Sukkos.

Perhaps, one of the ideas to reflect upon during these holidays is that the world appears to often time fall out of balance. Things appear to become extreme. It is during the times when things are in perfect harmony that we should take notice and recognize and then prepare ourselves to maintain our personal sense of balance when things go extreme again.