Ever since the Jews left Egypt some 3,500 years ago, we’ve been wandering the globe. Be it due to pogroms, expulsions or an innate itch for change, we’ve crisscrossed the Earth numerous times throughout our history.
Maybe that’s why we resonate with the sukkah — a temporary home that you can set up quickly just about anywhere. In a sense, the sukkah represents the Jewish home: It’s not rooted in one place, requires little to build and can be constructed from readily accessible materials.
But, I suspect there’s more to the sukkah’s message. After all, the Torah expects us to make it our home — in every sense- for a full week, right at the start of the Jewish year. What we do during the first days of the year impacts how the rest of the year progresses, and the sukkah is no exception.
To build a kosher sukkah, you need to have two primary elements:
1. Walls that are stable.
2. A roof that is not.
If your sukkah walls flap in the wind, your sukkah may not be kosher. And a sukkah’s roof that is impermeable is also a no-no (you need to see the stars or at least let the rain in).
Regardless of where in the world Jews have made their homes, we always build on these two principles.
Our walls are solid. What people do in society is their business, but we preserve an environment of our own inside our homes. Our Jewish identity remains pristine, safely preserved inside the sturdy walls that define us, regardless of where we are.
And, no matter how tough our situation might be, we keep an eye out for the Heavens. There is no ceiling to our potential, to the possibility of change and improvement. At all times, we remain aware of the gaps above us that allow us to dream, transcend the here-and-now, and succeed.
As you sit in your sukkah this coming Monday evening, invite your family and guests to reflect on the sukkah’s inspiring message for Jewish life.