And so just a few days after Yom Kippur, its time for another holiday. Another one?! I never heard of that?! Yes, Succos! I hope you get a chance to watch this video. It’s a real taste of Jerusalem creatvity and color!
Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos are 3 parts of a whole. After we’re cleansed and sparkling new we celebrate our closeness with G-d by spending the week together with Him – a honeymoon.
In this video, a lot is explained about some of the depth of Sukkos. Here, I’ll just run through some of the how to’s. I’ll post some pics of our Succa soon on FB, the boys are just about finished building it.
Q.What makes it a Sukka? Can a treehouse be a Sukka? What about my shed?
A. A Sukka can be made out of any material. the clincher is the roof. That which gives us protection has to be a)organic, b) not attached to the earth. so that would mean that if you had a really nice tree hanging over your Sukka, that part would not be considered a Sukka.
Q. Is it better to have a wooden homemade sukka than a store bought canvas one?
A. Nope, makes so difference.
Q. What do you do in a Sukka? Do you move in?
A. A Sukka is a holy, joyful place. You spend as much time there as you can. We eat our meals in the Sukka and those that can, sleep in the Sukka. It’s the most wonderful, cozy campout you’ve ever had. You move aside the tables and chairs, drag out your mattress and Boom! Your head hits the pillow and you are fast asleep!
Q Anything else?
A. Yes, It’s a custom to decorate Sukkas and all the crafty people have a great time doing that. (I conceptually love it, but end up with moslty store-bought signs)
Also, on each of the nights of Sukkos we welcome a special guest – the spirit of one of our Seven Shepards; Abraham , Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David.
Also Sukka hopping is a fun things kids do, visiting people’s sukkas to ooh and ahh over them. The host usually gives them some refreshments so the kids will make a blessing over the food and the sukka will absorb even more holiness! They love it!
Q. Is it like Shabbos in that you cease all creative work (electricity etc)?
A. Yes and No. In general, holidays are celebrated like Shabbos as a time of total peace besides for two things. On Holidays you can light a fire and you can also carry things outside that you wouldn’t normally on Shabbos.
Sukkos is 7 days in Israel and 8 in america (why, is a much longer answer) The first two days and the last two days are celebrated as I mentioned above. In between are 4 days and they are called Chol Hamoed – literally Weekday /Holiday. That time is special for families to be together, hang out in the sukka, take trips, go hiking, hang out in the sukka some more and at night go to whatever happy celebrations are going on if they want. People still go to work on Chol Hamoed, but there’s no school.
Q. Those mystical things I saw in the video with the lulav and esrog; Where do you buy one?
A. In English and esrog is called a citron, and you probably never saw one. [Some people have a custom to make esrog jelly after Sukkos and it’s said to be helpful for pregnant women]
Esrogim grow all over the world, but obviously in Israel, they have a vested interest in planting them, so there are more there. They’re imported and are sold by vendors in religious Jewish communities worlwide. I bet you could find one on-line though.
They’re expensive. They’re not easy to grow and there are blemishes which would make it unfit for this holy service. So your esrog is a BIG deal. You don’t need to own an esrog and lulav, you can use anyone’s. The best thing is to make sure to do this service every day.
About the video –
I like this guy. He’s all about diversity and he sees the beauty in people’s journey. I noticed that most of his films interview people who found their love for their Judaism independently, later on in life. That choosing is very precious and really indicates a thinking individual.
Out of respect for their level of modesty, I noticed he didn’t have any women in it – but women DO exist in Jerusalem! They have a colorful, strong presence.
Religious dancing is a strange and wonderful thing. By separating the sexes you really get to just dance without innuendo and not for anyone else. It’s joyful and powerful. And it really brings out the energy of the circle. (All of us connected, not just me, boogying by myself, next to you.)
The giant masses of men were Chassidim. Part of their culture is to dress in the ways their ancestors dressed as an added protection to their Jewish identity. (Think of a proud Native American if that analogy helps) They’re dancing with their leader, their Rebbe at the center.
Here’s a funny thing, many Jews don’t celebrate Sukkos. Maybe they grew up knowing about it , but only Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were considered important.
If you were one of those, this is your year! Go get your Sukkos! You deserve it! Enjoy!
And why’s it like this anyway? You see, much of the falling away of Jewish observance happened within the last hundred years when we came to America.
People chased the Golden Dream. They saw their parents as antiquated. They left behind Sweet Truths in favor of the Great Lie ( money will make you happy.)
And in that construct, who has time for another Holiday?I’ve got to get back to work! It’s one thing, Rosh Hashanah and we know in our very bones that Yom Kippur is important, but another one? That’s too much!
And like I wrote just the other day. I understand, I totally do. I might have been one of those who left it all behind if I hadn’t known what I”d be missing.
But now that I do, I realize that not having time to celebrate Sukkos, to celebrate life is like not having time to enjoy our child. We birthed a beautiful beginning with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the whole Elul process, now is the time to enjoy the result.
Is it taxing? A little. Taking off of work, making up hours. It’s not easy. And the energy output is high. In just four days , building sukka and cooking like a madman!
But I’ll tell you what the stress feels like. It feels like the stress of preparing for a wedding, You wouldn’t trade it for the world! You’re bustling and busy and purposeful.
As a matter of fact, it’s a custom to begin building your Sukka right after you break your Yom Kippur fast. It’s like super human! But it’s done! We’re so excited to build it, we just want to fill our pockets with the diamonds that are mitzvos.
Wherever you are, we welcome you to our Sukka, here on Pinkney Rd. Chag Sameach. (Happy Holiday!)