Rejoicing in our broken houses

| book club, holidays, musings |

I’ve just come to the end of Rabbi Alan Lew’s “This is Real and Your Are Completely Unprepared.” The book takes the reader from Tisha B’Av through Sukkot on a beautiful, spiritual journey that deepens the significance of each day of this period.  According to Rabbi Lew, Sukkot ends this period on a triumphant note:

He writes:

“This journey starts at Tisha B’Av, the day we remember the destruction of the Temple. It’s a logical start on the journey to reconciliation, toward wholeness. Tisha B’Av is the day that we acknowledge our estrangement–from God, from each other, from ourselves. That’s how you being a journey of reconciliation–by acknowledging your estrangement… Here we are at Tisha B’Av, sitting on the floor mourning this broken house…

Months later, at the end of the journey, we’re sitting in another broken house, the sukkah. Only now, we’re rejoicing. We’re singing and dancing. At first we saw the fact that the house was broken was a great catastrophe. And now we see we don’t need it. We can sit outside with the stars in our hair and the wind in our face, and we’re perfectly fine. And that’s the real journey. It has two major parts–the first coming to the realization that we are completely unprepared, that we are in a state of urgent and desperate emergency. And then second realizing that it’s alright.”

I love these last two sentences so much. My family always had a Sukkah growing up, and I’ve always loved the holiday. Sleeping, eating and living outside is such a magical experience. To me the holiday doesn’t have the spirit of wild, unbridled joy that Simcha Torah or Purim have, but it has something equally precious – a feeling of freedom and connection. A fluidity between the outside and the inside. A feeling that what we have is just what we need.

I’m excited that several of the JMC events this  month are outside (JMC meditation picnic in Prospect Park October 18th, Meditation walk across the Brooklyn Bridge October 29th).  Hopefully it will allow people without their own Sukkah, like me, to take in the spirit of the Holiday – bundling ourselves up, breathing the fall air, remembering that even as our structures are ramshackle and makeshift, we are, and will be, okay.

Chag Sameach – Have a wonderful Sukkot!