At the beginning of fall, at the height of harvest time, we celebrate Sukkot: Z’man Matan Simchateynu, the season of our rejoicing. The storehouses are full; we have a full new year to anticipate. We are told to go out of the solid walls of our homes and spend the coming days in a makeshift booth(sukkah) with no ceiling, only some branches with a few leaves (s’chach) here and there. It seems a little out of the ordinary, but this commandment has been practiced every year since the clouds of glory covered over us in days of yore.
Here in Israel, it is a perfect time of year. Mornings, through the canopy of s’chach, you can see tens of white clouds floating by on the powder blue sky. In the evenings, when you lie down on your bed, hundreds of stars glimmer in the dark ink over your head. The timelessness of looking up at the sky of Israel, the feeling that this moment in which you are in the sukkah could be now, or centuries ago- you can’t tell which.
There is a particular blessing we say only on Sukkot: “May the compassionate One erect David’s fallen booth”. Looking back on the nights of Sukkot in despairing times like the Holocaust, the pogroms in Europe and Arab countries, the evenings of the Inquisition, and more recent times like the Sukkot of Gush Katif and the North Shomron that were uprooted here in the Land ( in these times! )- these are the fallen booths of David. It seems like sometimes there are no walls and there is no safe side. As a people, and also personally we come in contact with many many obstacles that make our lives difficult…But, there is always a morning- we know that “A new light will shine out of Zion”. In the morning we perform the mitzvah of lulav and etrog. We strengthen ourselves in perfect faith and know that “come what may” with the help of Hashem, we will continue to stand till the end of days when the crown (Keter) will be placed on the head of King David (Malchut)- and so, the connection of thinking and doing will be brought to a perfect state. This is what we pray for on Sukkot when we place the s’chach ( Crown- Keter) on the vessel of Kingship ( Sukkat David ).
There is a concept in Kabbalah that overcoming obstacles creates a new vessel to receive G-d’s light. G-d will never “push you” though, over your limit. If there are obstacles in your path right now, it is because you are actually being given a chance to perfect yourself and ascend to a higher level. For this you need humility. This is a hard task when we live today in a world that stresses boosting up your ego, strengthening your assertiveness, it’s a “dog eat dog” world. It wasn’t “kochi veotzem yadi asah li et hachayil hazeh” (by my hard work, I reaped the earnings) but, Hashem blessed me with this! Hashem did it for me. The Sukkah, in it’s flimsiness (it can be beautiful beyond words- and should be), in it’s totally temporary dwelling-place as it is tells us- Hashem is my wall- who am I anyway?… Hashem is hugging us; we are entering Him as we realize we are no more than a cloud that wafts by, or a tiny star in a myriad of galaxies.
Chag Sameyach- Moadim Le’simcha, Leah Goldsmith