Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Lessons of Temporary

I meant to publish this during the holiday but in the end, didn't get a chance. The fact that I didn't get a chance is a blessing in itself because I spent much of the holiday with family.

We had one great outing to the north, a barbecue with the family at my daughter's home...all in all, a wonderful holiday. I'll get back to counting my blessings, but in the meantime, here's a post about the Sukkot holiday we just celebrated in Israel. Sukkot.... Sukkot is my favorite holiday - I love it. Most of the others seem to come with so much baggage; requirements that are more emotional than physical.

Rosh Hashana comes with the weight of Yom Kippur to follow.

Yom Kippur is about ripping your soul out and then putting it back inside hopefully cleaner, lighter, better.

Passover carries the weight of history, not to mention all that cleaning. It's about plagues and matzo and really heavy things... Sukkot carries a message but it is light and fun. Outside, free. Sukkot is a reminder that no matter where we are, God isn't far away.

We spend our lives building strong homes to withstand the rain, the wind, time...and rockets from Gaza :-). Sukkot tell us that all this building is folly. We are always, forever, under the skies - open, vulnerable. After a summer spent feeling very vulnerable, Sukkot comes almost as a relief. What's a little cold, a little heat, perhaps some ants and some bees, compared to sirens and rockets? At one point during the war, sirens rang out in our neighborhood. The first time, I fell apart.

Simple as that, embarrassing as that. My youngest son, trained by Magen David Adom to be calm in an emergency, handled my breakdown brilliantly. My youngest daughter was outside somewhere - I was terrified for her and found it unbearable to go into a bomb shelter when I didn't know she was safe. The second time, we all shuffled off nice and easy - it's so different when you're heart isn't divided and breaking into pieces.

The bomb shelter is safety - secure. And that's what the Sukkah is too - the winds can come, the rain, the heat - but the message remains. The strongest buildings can be knocked down...the Sukkah remains. We put ourselves in God's hands, trusting...and are freed.

We trust that God will protect us, that the Sukkah is our temporary shelter - and we are protected. The Sukkah teaches us that all that we have created is meaningless and that ultimately, it is God and not the army, Iron Dome, the stars, fate, whatever, that determines our destiny.

The Sukkah represents peace - and it is peace that we are so missing in this land. And yet, the peace that we seek too often is a false one, and that too is a message of Sukkot. In many ways, our homes built of cement and stone are false homes; unable to protect us from the greatest of dangers. Our attempts to make peace with our neighbors are false because, like the buildings, they offer only an image of what is real.

Peace is not bought with land; homes, real homes, are not built of stone. And that, ultimately, is the message of Sukkot. The Sukkah is real, not fake. It is our home, our protection. The real peace we make is one that is built on a true desire to get along - with our spouses and children, our neighbors and our enemies. Real protection is believing and having faith.

 Trust it, go into it, believe in it. Dwell in it and when, eight days later, we leave it, keep it in your heart.

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