The Ghosts of Succot Past

Sitting peacefully alone in this temporary dwelling, I try and absorb the spirit of Succot. A Succah is intended to be a cozy, dreamy, romantic makeshift hut where we spend a week with our beloved G-d under the stars together. I cherish this quiet time to meditate on the ideas that would, for the most part, escape my consciousness due to the maternal duties I spend the bulk of my time tending to.

On Succot, we have the custom of inviting special guests to join us in our Succah. Inviting people to partake at our holiday table is par for the course of being Jewish, but this week is unusual. We invite seven guests, known as the Ushpizin, that have been long gone from our world to leave their heavenly abode and join us in our little man-made huts for this special holiday.

I have always been curious as to why we do this now as opposed to all the other holidays. I’d like to share an idea that speaks to me that I hope will resonate with you as well.

Ushpizin on our Sukkah wall (Aliza Lipkin)
Ushpizin on our Sukkah wall (Aliza Lipkin)

Succot follows the High Holidays. During the Days of Awe, we busied ourselves trying to sway the course of our future in our favor. It became a tangible reality for many of us that our lives hung in the balance. On the one side was our current reality with all our loved ones with whom we desired to remain here on Earth, and on the other, an unknown spiritual destination, where our forefathers waited to transition us on the fateful day which could be at this very moment.

With G-d’s mercy, we made it through the heavenly trial. We implore these spiritual giants, who now stand to return empty handed, to join us to at least share some small measure of time together under “G-d’s wings of protection”. They thereby perform the task they came to fulfill by returning with a piece of our eternal existence having shared in the mitzvah of Succah together. It is most fitting, since we’ve relied on the merits and received invaluable lessons and traits from these giant leaders. Had it not been for them we would not exist to experience Succot altogether.

I feel humbled that I was given the opportunity to live on to carry out these mitzvot with relative ease and comfort. My mind can’t help but drift to the times of persecution and hardship that so many of our ancestors endured. I think about those who only dreamed of dwelling in Succot and holding a Lulav and Etrog. It brings tears to my eyes knowing the pain they must have felt being denied their religious rights and desires. It is with this knowledge that I have a greater appreciation for each and every moment of performing these mitzvot. I therefore invite all those passed as well to my Succah. It is in their merit as well that I sit today in my very own Succah in the holy land. I can close my eyes and envision their company as I gaze up at the stars and feel their presence. I believe many of them persevered knowing I would do just that. May we all be blessed to share a future where we can sit together in peace under G-d’s wings of protection and enjoy all that has true meaning and value together!

About the Author
Aliza Lipkin fufilled her biggest dream by making Aliya in 2003 from the US. She resides happily in a wonderful community in Maaleh Adumim with her family. She is a firm lover and believer in her country, her people and her G-d. Her mission is to try and live a moral and ethical life while spreading insights based on Torah values to bring people closer together and help build a stronger nation.