At the beginning of this month, Jews all over the world will observe the holiday of Sukkot, Tabernacles. In the Torah, we are commanded to dwell in booths for seven days, as we read, “(so) that your generations may know that I made the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
Spending time in these booths, or sukkot, offers a visceral way to recall our past wanderings and, as the structure has only three sides, ways to remind us of Abraham and Sarah who were known for their hospitality. It is so important to hold onto our history and at least as significant to discern what these recollections teach for our lives today.
Many of us live in houses, condominiums or apartments, and some have vacation homes, too, and/or houseboats, timeshares or recreational vehicles, most stocked with food and drinks, at the very least, and also, perhaps, with sports equipment, reading material and/or games to play.
Many of our neighbors and their children are food insecure and, among them, a significant number of families don’t know from where—or if-- their next check to pay the rent will arrive. There is no living in flower-laden booths to celebrate the holiday for them.
Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Ingathering, celebrates, as well, the harvest and, during this time, we shake the lulav and the etrog, which represent the diversity found in the Land of Israel and also remind us that G-d may be found in all the four corners of the world. During this festive holiday, we enjoy our meals in the sukkah and give thanks for the bounty on our tables. These meals, however, tend to taste so much better when we know that everyone has food in front of them and roofs to protect them. As in the days of our wanderings, when G-d fed us manna and commanded us to live in booths, perhaps the torch has now been passed to us to ensure that everyone has the nourishment they need and homes in which to raise their families.
May we celebrate the upcoming harvests by enjoying plenty and also by sharing our bounty with those who need us. As we remind our neighbors that someone out there truly cares about them, our own meals will taste sweeter, too.
Chag Sukkot sameach,