This week is the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot … a holiday I needed to read about just now to get a grasp of it.
From sundown on September 20 until nightfall September 27, Jewish people eat all their meals in a “Sukkah”. The Sukkah is a temporary dwelling with at least three walls and a roof built from natural materials. The roof provides more shade than sun, though still has enough openings so one can see through to the stars at night.
A TINY BIT SAD
I am a little sad. I haven’t built a Sukkah so I won’t be celebrating this joyful holiday for the full eight days.
I don’t mind being sad. The desire shows my path forward. Feeling called to celebrate this holiday says, Yes! Taking on more mitzvahs….
* newly koshering my home (where I am still making lots of mistakes!)
* observing Shabbat, the lovely divine day of rest, family, G-d
and…. well… at least eating one meal this Sukkot in my Rabbi’s Sukkah…
Several people have told me not to rush increasing Jewish observances. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and give it all up if we do too much too fast.
Though I remind them that, not for nothing, but I spent twenty years dipping my toes in Judaism before I made my home Kosher.
Either way, with observing Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the past few months of observing Shabbat, all for the very first time, my friends probably have a point. Last night for example, I furiously searched the internet for pop-up Sukkahs which would arrive immediately to be ready for Sukkot which began the next night! When I stopped and remembered the “take it slow” advice, I admit it was a big relief.
A BIT MORE ABOUT SUKKAT
Sukkot celebrates the new harvest AND “the miraculous protection G‑d provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt” (Chabad.org.) Blessings are said, candles are lit, and there is a ritual done with the “four kinds” (a palm branch, willows, myrtles, and a citron). When the palm branch (lulav) and citron (etrog) are brought together and the blessing is said, the mitzvah has been done!
Somehow a prism of joy comes to mind when I think of Sukkot. Meanings are thrown about such as unity, embrace, peace, belonging and of course Joy. My favorite idea is that of the Sukkah giving us a Hug as if the arms of Hashem are holding us as a mother holds her precious baby. We do this mitzvah with our whole body.
A few years ago while eating in my Rabbi’s Sukkah during a community celebration, I don’t know why or how, but a distinct peace, oneness and love of fellow filled the outdoor temporary hut. It wasn’t about sitting next to a good friend or admired mentor; it was a kindness, richness, a true coming together. One congregant who was extremely shy and stutters profoundly was asked to share something. In a big beautiful surprise, the words flowed out seamlessly and for that moment, her shyness and challenges evaporated.
TORAH AND JOY
As the Chasidic saying goes, “Sukkah is the only mitzvah into which a person enters with his muddy boots.”
“You shall rejoice on your festival,” says the Torah. And from Maimonides: “When one eats and drinks, one must also feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow and the other unfortunate paupers. One who locks the doors of his courtyard and feasts and drinks with his children and wife, but does not feed the poor and the embittered—this is not the joy of the mitzvah, but the joy of his stomach.”
Joy, song, dance, unity, celebration, and muddy boots.
Next year… a Sukkah, with beautiful decorations. The muddy boots make it real.
Chag Sameach! Here is a link to find a Sukkot celebration near you: SUKKOT EVENT DIRECTORY. Have a joyful time of unity wherever you are.
Love, Vivi 💖 ©
p.s. I couldn’t help myself. I just posted this on my local virtual community site:
UNUSUAL REQUEST! (SUKKOT Holiday)
Does anyone have a used easy to put together Sukkah they could sell or loan? The Jewish holiday began last night (Mon 9/20) and I, last minute, am hoping to put together a quick Sukkah for the holiday. Thanks!
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