Life is a Sukkah

And only He can keep us safe.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

Like so many symbols in Jewish life, the sukkah is multi-dimensional. A matzah can stand for the "poor bread" of slavery, or it can proudly represent our zeal to follow HaShem into the wilderness without hesitation. The white kittel we wear on Yom Kippur can be either a symbol of purity, or of the tachrichim shrouds we are dressed in at death.

The sukkah, too, has a "dual personality." On the one hand, leaving our spacious homes for a tiny hut is a kind of "exile," so that - if we were judged unfavorably during Yom Kippur - this can be the "punishment" for our sins. But at the same time, the sukkah has a beloved side to it, symbolizing our faith in HaShem's protection of us.

There are three distinct components to the sukkah. The earth upon which we build the sukkah represents our love for the land, which produces nourishment for us
The sukkah is meant to be a heimish, yet humbling experience.
and sustains us. In particular - though we traveled in sukkot during our desert wanderings - the earth beneath our feet reminds us of Eretz Yisrael, the destination to which we were then headed, and to which all Jews should be headed at all times.

The walls of the sukkah, which tend to sway in the wind a bit and are temporary, represent the fragile environment in which we all live. Our ability to build tall, thick walls around us cannot guard us against disease or global warming or an economic tsunami or the advent of a political regime which is ill-disposed to our welfare.

For that, we have to rely only upon HaShem. And this, of course, is the third - and most important - element of the sukkah: the s'chach. (Indeed, the word sukkah is closely connected to s'chach - arguably the most difficult word in the Jewish vocabulary for a non-Hebrew speaker to pronounce!). What is above us is meant to remind us that G-d in Heaven is our true and real source of protection; only He can keep us safe.

There is an interesting halacha of the sukkah. In order to fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah, the structure must have "more shade than sunlight." One idea here is that the s'chach must be ample enough to cover the roof, so that the interior becomes shaded, just like our homes.

Perhaps there is another, deeper message implied in this law. Maybe the message being sent to us is that we live in a precarious, often dangerous world where we are constantly at risk from many different directions. A world that, alas, is sometimes "more shadow than sunlight."

To survive in this world - let alone prosper - we all need G-d's help. The sukkah is meant to be a heimish, yet humbling experience to helps us appreciate how dependent we are on G-d. Remember that essential truth and you can be sure that "things will be looking up."