Sukkot is one of my favorite holidays; it sends us outside for a week, right at the changing of the seasons, to get a feel of nature and deviate from routine. At our school, students (and helpful parents!) delight in building the sukka. They create decorations for it, eat their snacks there, and of course, ceremoniously shake the lulav in it. This is experiential learning at its best, the kind that stays with you and creates a personal familiarity with the sukka and the holiday. Every single student in our school could tell you a few things about Sukkot, could state a rule or two about what makes a sukka kosher, and could easily describe to you the “arba’a minim.” Here, Jewish education is not an empty label, it is a pulsating, hands-on, joyful occurrence.
But why does Sukkot make us spend seven days in a temporary house, which, though it can be built as wide and as fancy as one wants, is still not as comfortable or safe as our sturdy homes? I mean, who even wants “temporary”? Living for more than a decade in Ann Arbor, where tenure is king, “temporary” is almost a bad word. We need stability, we seek long lasting security – not a shaky shack that can be built and taken down in an afternoon.
Sukkot seems to be in a direct opposite of those aspirations. But perhaps, in addition to being a reminder of the Israelites’ journey in the desert, Sukkot can show us that if we can enjoy and appreciate the “temporary,” if we can comfortably (and temporarily) deviate from our safe routines, then we are probably well situated in our “permanent.” In other words, embracing and enjoying interim adventures could be an indication of how grounded we feel in our regular, non-adventurous existence; as individuals or as a community. And it makes the Sukkot holiday all the more meaningful.
Shabbat Shalom, a happy end-of Sukkot, and a jubilant Simchat Torah!