Moishe is driving in Jerusalem. He’s late for a meeting and looking for a parking space but can’t find one. In desperation, he turns his face upwards and says, “Lord, if you find me a parking space, I promise that I’ll eat only Kosher and will respect Shabbat and all the holidays.”
Miraculously, a space opens up just in front of him. He turns his face back up and says, “Never mind, I just found one!”
As we transition from Yom Kippur to Sukkos, we have just finished asking Hashem to forgive us and provide us with a good year. On Sukkos, we dwell in our Sukkahs which serve to remind us that the prosperity we have is from Hashem. It is amazing how fast we need a reminder after Yom Kippur.
In this week’s Torah reading Ha’azinu, the Torah says “Yeshurun (the Jewish people) became “fat” and kicked… and deserted Hashem and was contemptuous of the Rock of its salvation”. (32:15)
Onkelos and Targum Yonasan translate the word for fat, as acquiring property. What is wrong with acquiring property? How does acquiring property lead to forgetting Hashem? The answer is that it isn’t inherently a problem. However, it could cause us to lose sight of what is truly important. When things are going well and we have a lot, we tend to forget Hashem. Like the guy with the parking spot, we think we don’t need Him.
The Seforno in his commentary on Tehillim discusses how acquiring lots of material possessions can lead to forgetting Hashem. My Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz Zt”l explains the Seforno that a person naturally seeks Nitzchius – eternity. This should cause a person to serve Hashem and to cling to Him to achieve Olam Haba, the World to Come. However, for many people this desire for Nitzchius does not result in doing Mitzvos. They feel comfortable and don’t pay attention to the fact that Hashem is providing them with their wealth. They think their property and the buildings that are named for them will provide that legacy. (This does not mean there is anything wrong with naming a building after someone. There are many good reasons for doing so.)
As we head into Sukkos, we are reminded that wealth is transitory and that our needs are provided by Hashem. It follows the harvest when a person naturally is feeling wealthy and feels he has everything he needs. The Sukkah reminds us to look up to Hashem who is the One who provides us with our protection and our needs even if it looks like it is coming in “natural” ways.