Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Ye Shall Dwell in Booths...*

*Leviticus 23:42


The seven-day festival of Sukkot is an odd one if viewed without context. Jews are commanded to make insecure structures with porous roofs that allow us to see the stars and let precipitation seep in. We are to eat meals and spend nights in those “booths” (some translate it as “huts”) for seven days.




All this— to remember our ancestral forty-year journey to the Promised Land, dwelling in tents for two generations.


All over the observant Jewish world, these structures are erected according to specification, and then decorated to the hilt. I have warm memories of this from my childhood in Israel, where even the marginally observant just had to have a Sukkah, (=Booth) even if we mostly decorated and rarely dwelled.


In my current home, I tried to give my kids a taste of it. Our non-Kosher hut (because it was a section of our entry-porch, and the only solid part was, alas, the roof) was not a place to sleep. But we had a couple of lunches in it, and like in my secular upbringing in Israel, we spent more time on decorating than being in there. The neighbor’s cat, though, adopted it immediately and did the Mitzvah for us.


{{{I highly recommend the movie USHPIZIN, one of very few made by ultra-orthodox Jews, and telling a beautiful tale that stars the holiday of Sukkot.}}}



The point was to remember. To recall where you came from and pay homage to the struggles of those who went before.

I no longer attempt a sukkah, even for our cats. But, you see, the holiday starts tomorrow, and I remember.



13 comments:

  1. I love the idea of taking time to remember and reflect and be part of nature and what came before. I don't do that enough. I don't think people in general do that enough. My roof garden helps with this. Sounds like you have some great memories.

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    1. Ah, the roof garden. They were made for dreaming...

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  2. Mirka, that was a great film. And it's so lovely you helped your children remember their story!

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    1. And they, in turn, gave me a reason to remember.

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  3. Remembering is what it's all about, right? :)

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    1. It's what writers do, even if these are someone else's memories ;)

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  4. I'm looking forward to our friends' Sukkah party this Sunday. It's their only big party of the year. They have so many friends and relatives that they need to let the crowd spill outside to accommodate everyone.

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    1. For years, a dear friend's Sukkah party nearby was the place we experienced community. Alas, these friends have just about retired their annual hosting tradition and replaced it with going to visit family in Israel.

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  5. Thank you for sharing, Mirka. I'm especially attuned to the remembering part since just this past weekend, I returned to my growing up place and spent several enjoyable hours at my 50th high school reunion doing lots of remembering and reminiscing with longtime friends and classmates. Cherishing my roots was good.

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    1. I hope this brought back memories you didn't realize you had stored, and they were joyous ones.

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  6. Cats can be quite helpful during religious observations--apparently.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Cats are helpful for just about everything. Just ask them.

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  7. Thank you for sharing about this festival. I'm learning about these cultural festivals all the time.

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