Bees, hurricanes, heat waves, and frigid temperatures all are signs of the deterioration of our fragile environment, but also, and more importantly, all are obstacles that stand in the way of a perfect Sukkot holiday.
For those of you not affiliated religiously or not Jewish at all, the holiday of Sukkot is a unique one. Though is it really more unique than some of our other Jewish holidays? In any event, this holiday is when we put up a “hut” of wood, or fiberglass, or canvas, and eat all of our meals in it for a week.
Some folks even sleep in this makeshift home. Some of those folks are related to me. Closely related to me. These folks are people who, normally, do not know how to make a bed. How to find linens, or even know what linens are, for that matter, and have never flipped a mattress. Blanket? comforter? duvet? Flat sheet? Fitted sheet? No idea what the difference is. But, come this holiday, all of a sudden we are doing an extreme home makeover and we are moving mattresses and locating sleeping bags and pillows and extension cords to plug in lamps and what have you. All of a sudden, these folks know how to do everything on their own. (Except, of course, to wash all the linen after it has been used outdoors for a week, but that’s another story, another column, another time.) The significance of sleeping in the hut is the reenactment of what our distant relatives did in the desert. Right? I think that is what this holiday is about.
As your children become more religious, the holiday takes on a whole new sheen. Sheen, there is an interesting word. Apparently the etrogs this year might be controversial if they are from Israel because it is shmitah and you have to return them to Israel or you will have seven years of skinny cows followed by seven years of fat cows. I might be mixing up some thoughts here, but I am sure you get the point. The point being, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, BOYS?????”
Ok, I feel better now.
If any of you have any questions about the fate of your delicious-smelling etrog, feel free to ask your local rabbi and then you can let me know what they tell you. All I know about the etrog is that Jo Malone should make a perfume out of it, because the scent always makes me happy, and that isn’t an easy thing to do lately.
I have often said, much to my Oreos’ chagrin, that some of our holidays have some similar aspects to non-Jewish holidays. This Sukkot holiday, for example, is a little like the holiday where people decorate trees (I am afraid to name that holiday for fear of upsetting my Oreos, please forgive me.) Decorating the sukkah has become quite the booming business. If you follow any florists on Instagram, you know that they post pictures of how they have turned their sukkot into floral paradises. There are people who decorate their walls with projects their kids made when they were little — so adorable; some sukkot have traffic lights in them, cool chandeliers, paper chains, which are totally retro. The canvases themselves are decorative with scenes from the Kotel in Jerusalem. They are all special, unique, and beautiful. I love hanging up the little disco balls that they sell at Amazing Savings, along with some colorful streamers and giant apples. Yes, the word of the week is going to be apple and I am going to have my Strudel saying that word by the time this holiday is over. Some people want to finish a Mishnah, I want my granddaughter saying the word apple — equally if not more important.
With the help of my monkeys, my sukkah also has several posters with rabbis on them. Not my first choice, but what can you do? The one I like best this year says “May it be your will that we see the merits of our friends and not their flaws.” This is especially meaningful to me since I am having a hard time doing that with oh-so-many people. (Yes, we all know I have issues, but, who knows, maybe staring at this poster for a week will change that!) And let’s be honest, it is always fun to stand outside someone’s sukkah and eavesdrop on their conversations… Just kidding!!!!
Hope the weather remains perfect for the rest of this holiday and if not, hope you have enough room in your house for whomever you invited over!
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck can’t wait to see Strudel’s reaction to the myriad of hanging stuff in her sukkah. Though, she might be disappointed because there aren’t any Mickey Mouse decorations….