On Sukkot, Hiding And Seeking

Many of the high points of the Jewish tradition depend upon the end of concealment. In the Torah, God was long hidden from humanity until Abraham managed to see the world as filled with God’s presence. At Sinai, the notion of “revelation” presupposes that before, there was hiddenness.

The approaching holiday of Sukkot reminds us of this shadow side of Jewish understanding. The schach (halachic covering) on the roof of the sukkah deliberately casts shadows on the floor, both revealing and concealing. The holiday follows on the heels of Yom Kippur, the time when we are supposed to bare our souls, seeking to hide nothing from ourselves or from God.

As has been noted by Heschel, among others, the tradition is a dialectic of human beings seeking God and God searching for human beings. We hide like children in a game, hoping to be found. The assurance of Sukkot is that, no matter where we live, in temporary huts or palatial mansions, we are never entirely concealed. We may feel neglected, but we are not abandoned. As with the children of Israel who built the first huts crossing the desert, we may feel we are lost, but God has found us.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.