Thursday, October 1, 2009
Building a Tabernacle in our Backyard
The stress and emotion of Yom Kippur quickly gave way to facing the building of our succa for the Feast of Tabernacles (the bizarre English translation for the holiday of Sukkot, shelters). Living in the Northwest, that means it's time to finally trim all the firs and cedars blocking our view that we've let burgeon until just this moment.
The way everyone's schedule worked out, that Jew was me.
With a rickety aluminum ladder quaking beneath me, and my trusty associate handing up the prickly branches, I struggled to place the 5- and 6-foot-long trimmings astride the beams ten feet in the air. I needed to cover the enclosure to preclude gaping holes, ideally with enough "skach" (greenery) to at least briefly fend off likely drizzles and showers for the week-long festival.
So there I was, in the dark, teetering on a jiggly ladder, hurling enormous fronds on a temporary frame on our patio. Was this fun?
Sukkot is "the time of our rejoicing," and having my entire family together and home, and soon, sitting outside in our heavy coats sipping soup is something no modern wizard could have cooked up. But its very oddness makes it memorable and special and worthwhile. There's no autumn that slips by unnoticed--dining with the wind whipping through the branches, we not only remember our vulnerability--already in the forefront of our minds after fasting and praying all day on Yom Kippur--but we create shared memories that only such strange experiences can bring. Just as camping outdoors is more eventful than staying in a hotel room, spending a week "dwelling" in our succa, with downpours and "disasters" (eg. the year our "skach" was found to be populated by zillions of little worms unable to defy gravity) provides highlights for our days and our relationships.
Chag Sameach--happy Sukkot--and may your rejoicing not include worms!