Updated: Mar 22
One of my favorite holidays is Sukkot (Hebrew for “booths”). Emerging with clean slates from Yom Kippur, we spend the seven days of Sukkot enjoying our relationship with Hashem. Specifically, we leave our “permanent” homes and enter our temporary home of the Sukkah to rejoice in the fact that G-d protects us and takes care of our every need. This is why Sukkot is also called Zman Simchaseinu, the Time of our Joy, based on the Torah source for Sukkot which says, “[A]nd you should be happy before G-d for seven days.”
Can we be commanded to be happy? Yes. A fundamental concept in the Torah is that as human beings, we can (and should) lead our lives with our intellect. We can change our emotional state by changing our thoughts. The Sages teach that thoughts of gratitude generate happiness. It is so easy to focus on the “black dot” on the white page, whatever is going “wrong” at any given time, but there are also so many blessings that we have to be grateful for! At the most basic level, we can breathe, we have access to clean water and we have yummy food to eat. My teacher Sara Yoheved Rigler recommends writing down five new things that you are grateful for each day. I have been doing it for several years; it is a great way to focus on your blessings and enhance your happiness.
My favorite thing to watch this time of year: DAJUS Sukkah Shop and Hop. This short, fun video on Sukkot really gives you a visual taste of Sukkot in Israel and the deeper meaning behind the holidays.
 Vayikra 23:40 (“[A]nd you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for a seven day period”); Based partly on Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg, Gems From The Nesivos Sholom: Sukkot and Simchat Torah, Introduction and DAJUS Sukkah Shop and Hop.