Monday, October 17, 2011

Ray Cook's Tales Of Succot--True Tales About The Sukkah

From Ray Cook's blog: Tales of Succot
*Readers’ warning: some of these tales have been ever so slightly embellished for comic effect.

Well, this is a first for me: blogging from my succah.

Succot is just about my favourite festival. To any outsider the rituals of Succot (or Succos if you like) seem strange to say the least and give rise to many an amusing incident.

If you are not familiar with the festival please see the information at the end of this blog.

Succahs take many shapes and forms. Ours, as you can see on the right, is made of a metal frame and canvas walls with the roof made from bamboo slats. Other building and roofing materials are available.

A succah is a temporary dwelling but some people have permanent structures which are used for other purposes during the rest of the year. One such structure is my rabbi’s garden shed:

The Tale of the Rabbi’s Succah
My rabbi’s succah is a converted garden shed which can seat a surprising number of people. The roof has been specially adapted so that, using a cantilevered pulley system, it splits in two like the Space Shuttle’s payload bay and is then tied down to reveal the ‘schach’, the roof covering, which is straw thatch but must be sufficiently ‘porous’ to allow starlight to penetrate.

Some years ago, with the succah roof fully opened to a clear autumnal sky, the rabbi’s doorbell rang.

On opening the front door both the bell-ringer and the rabbi were surprised. The bell-ringer was not expecting a tall dark figure with a flowing beard, and the rabbi was confronted by a complete stranger rather than the half-expected visitation of a member of his congregation.

“Good evening,” said the bell-ringer, unfazed, “can I have look through your telescope?”
Here is my own personal Sukkah story:
My sukkah story: about 7 years during Chol HaMoad my neighbor calls me to inform me that my sukkah had taken flight. When I came home, he had tied one end of the sukkah down--but the rest was in the air: my sukkah had become a box kite.

In the process, the sukkah hand put a dent both into my house and my neighbor's house as well. He is not Jewish, but Baruch HaShem is a very nice guy.

Ever since, part of my sukkah preparations including tying my sukkah down and putting a bag a gravel on all for sides of my sukkah to hold it down.
Do you have a sukkah story?

Continue reading Ray's Tales of Succot

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1 comment:

Moishe3rd said...

My Succah Story... more or less...

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
All the Succahs are growing and everyone’s glowing and full of Good Cheer!
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

It’s the Hap – Happiest Season of All!
Our Lulavs are waving and Mizvahs we’re craving,
It happens each Fall!
It’s the Hap-Happiest Season of All!

The Haftorah that we read on the first day of Succos deals with the battle of Armageddon, the war between Gog and Magog where Jerusalem is attacked.
At the end of the portion, after Israel is triumphant, it tells of how all the Nations of the World are now going to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot and to eat in the Succah in Jerusalem. It also tells that those Nations who do not come to celebrate Sukkot will be punished by G-d.
There is another passage in the Torah that explains that some Nations will come and sit in the succah, but the Sun will be too hot and they will leave and, on the way out, they will kick the succah. These Nations will also be punished.
The question is asked – why should they be punished?
Sukkot is a time when we are commanded to Rejoice. It is such a mitzvah to be Happy that, if we are too uncomfortable in the succah – it’s raining; it’s freezing; there are too many bees and bugs or – if it’s too hot, we are commanded to leave the succah, because otherwise we would be uncomfortable and unhappy!
So why would the Nations be punished for leaving the succah?
They are not.
They would be punished for kicking the succah on the way out. They would be punished for despising the mitzvah in the first place.
When we have to leave the succah, we are unhappy at not being able to fulfill G-d’s Commandment.
When they kick the succah on the way out, they are basically saying: “stupid succah; stupid commandment; I didn’t want to be here in the first place!”

And… As above, so Below.

We sit in our succahs during Sukkot and bask in Hashem’s Glory. We praise G-d for His Beneficence and Love at giving us this beautiful mitzvah to perform. We rely on G-d to protect us from the heat and cold and wet and Bless G-d for His Protection.
This year, during our Season of Rejoicing, there is a whole other group of people who are also deliberately living outside except, they are not relying on G-d’s Protection - the OWIES; their acronym: OWS – Occupy Wall Street.
There is no comparison with their cause or their lives or anything to do with Sukkot and I make no judgments on whatever it is that they are doing. However, their cause is based on an “Owie.” Their cause is one of grievance and unhappiness.
I see Divine Providence that it is precisely in this Season of Sukkot, where our purpose is to Bless G-d and His Divine Protection, that there is a huge movement of people – worldwide; from Israel to Los Angeles, who are also living outside but, whose main purpose is to “kick their own succahs.”
Their purpose for being outside is to air their grievances against the World they live in.
This is a remarkable coincidence where the Nations of the World are, indeed, complaining of their lot as they live outside and “kick the succah” precisely as the Jewish People are Praising Hashem as we live outside in the Beauty of G-d’s Succah of Love and Prosperity.