I love the holiday of Sukkot. During Sukkot, we are asked to leave the comfortable luxuries we have become accustomed to and return to the basics. It is an occasion to release all of the “stuff” we have collected throughout the year. It is a reminder to cling to the things that are truly important.
Those of you who do not enjoy camping and leaving behind the world as we know it, may be wondering what there is to love about Sukkot.
Well, what could be better than sitting with family and friends around a table enjoying a wonderful meal in a relaxed and natural environment? The theme of this holiday is hospitality, and we invite guests into our Sukkah or travel to the homes of others as their guests.
For seven days, we dwell in huts celebrating the Fall Harvest – a time of rejoicing for the bounty we’ve been given. This expression of joy is just as applicable today, although we often do not take pause to express our gratitude for that which we’ve been given – at least not until it’s taken away. Talk to the family who lost their jobs, their house and their car and who now struggle to put food on the table for their children. They will tell you that you must be thankful for what you have each and every day.
For seven days, we dwell in huts – a souvenir, so to speak, during our wandering years in the desert. Imagine what it was like to leave Egypt in such a hurry that you left with only the essentials for survival. Today’s society has a difficult time contemplating what it would be like to live life without all of our things, but Sukkot is a holiday that invites us to return to simple living.
There are strict laws regarding the construction of the Sukkah. There are, for example, required dimensions for the size of the Sukkah, specific instructions for the roof of the Sukkah and details for the walls of the Sukkah. We start building the Sukkah right after Yom Kippur and finish our assembly four days prior to the holiday.
Sukkot is a joyous celebration – a cue to gratefully embrace all that we are given – whether it be a 4,000 square foot home or a tiny hut. With all the devastation and sudden tragedy that is occurring all around us, the bellowing message of Sukkot says that we’ve expanded our needs beyond what is truly necessary, and it is time to return to the basics.
It is time to “clean house” and rid our homes of unnecessary clutter. It is time to spend quality time with friends and family. It is time to honor the pillars of life – the values that keep the Jewish people here year after year after year.