I grew up in Brooklyn as an apartment dweller but around this
time of year, Sukkahs seemed to appear magically in back yards
and on terraces. Since my folks were not particularly religious, I
just didn’t ‘get’ it. (It was great having a day off from school but
the significance of the holiday eluded me - totally. What’s even
worse is that I was a shul goer - and I couldn’t make the
connection between the biblical texts and prayers I was reading
with my life today.)
So here is my version of Sukkot in a nutshell: Sukkot is a
holiday that reminds us of the fragility of our lives in a rapidly
changing world. It pulls us away from our technological
addictions and reminds us of the miracles of the natural world.
A kosher sukkah allows one to sit in it and see the stars
through the skhakh - the greenery which covers the “roof.” I
don’t know about you, but I rarely stop and look up. I’m usually
running from pillar to post clutching my endless ‘to-do’ list.
From the biblical perspective, Sukkot reminds us of God’s
kindness to our ancestors after they left Egypt - one of three
recurring motifs in all of our prayers. Those themes are
Creation, Redemption and Revelation.
How do those concepts have any relationship to our modern
lives? Creation embodies each of us and the many roles we
play in life as friend, relative and in our professional lives. It
also encompasses much of what we do recreationally as
consumers and / or participants of the arts, sports and hobbies.
Redemption in today’s society has to do with relieving
oppression in the world. This oppression has many guises:
hunger, war, slavery, etc. Revelation is usually thought of as
learning Torah but just the learning is not enough. The one
who learns much teach it on by word and action. Otherwise,
we are told that it is as if nothing was learned.
I hope this gives you a different door with which to enter the
sukkah. Chag Same’ach! (Happy Holiday!)
Return to the top.