This Old Sukkah

just some quick thoughts…

so after the anxious, fingernail-bitingly, “holy crap am i gonna die?” tension that are the yomim noraim, we get to relax and kick back for sukkot. sukkot, as everyone knows, commemorates the 40 years in the desert when bnai yisrael lived in their temporary shelters and Hashem protected them under the clouds of glory.

so why celebrate that now?  wouldn’t it make more sense for this holiday to come after, say, pesach,when we first ventured into the desert in the first place?  or even after the 9th of av, maybe, since that’s when we actually started wandering the desert [before that we were on the 3-day fast track to israel].

well im sure everyone’s heard the reason that sukkot is celebrated here when the weather is inclimate in order for the farmer to realize that the bounty of nature he has just reaped did not spring from the strength of his own hand.  that he still depends on Hashem to provide his daily bread.

see, that’s all well and good for a farmer, but what about us today?  of course the analogy can be applied to the modern concept of employment and the job market and how one shouldn’t think “my resume and skills got me this job” but again use the concept of sukkot as a grounding perspective.  however, since all that can tend to get muddled or lost in our modern, ever moving, ever fast-paced world, i like to look at the placement of sukkot slightly differently.

i’d like to think sukkot comes right after yom kippur, when ppl are happy they came out alive on the other end of the new year, so that they shouldn’t think “wow, i was so good last year.  i did so many great mitzvot that i deserved life for a new year.  wow i must’ve been really awesome with my torah-keeping”.  id like to say that even there, its wrong to assume that we merited a new lease on life b/c of something “we” did, or the merits “we” accumulated. we need to head out into the sukkah and experience how it just barely protects us from the wind and cold.  we need to realize that the cold and wind battering us are how the repercussions from our last year’s worth of sins should be assaulting us, and how we just barely got by. we need to still acknowledge we’re only alive not b/c of the great things “we” did do, but b/c Hashem decided to ignore all the things we didn’t do…

ive found that a lot of ppl use the arba minim as an excuse to not aspire to whatever spiritual heights they’re capable of, or to be content in being “jewish” in name only, or to claim judaism but limit their association to just bagels and bad jokes, if at all:

see? look at the four species!  the aravot are there with everyone else, right? they symbolize the jew who doesn’t follow torah or even have good deeds. it takes all kinds! so i’m good.”

to those ppl, id like to point out that aravot have the shortest lifespan of the bunch.  and the second they lose their leaves, or turn brown, they have to be removed and replaced for the four species to still be kosher.  apparently “it takes all kinds” isn’t without qualifying conditions. and apparently you can only last but so long existing w/o torah and mitzvot, before you can’t be a part of the gang anymore.

just something to think about.

–MaNishtana

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