Reflections on Sukkot
I can't sleep. As it is, I finally went to bed at 2:30 a.m. But for some reason, my adrenaline was pumping - and my legs and feet were aching from being abused all day (I stood on them) - so that combination effected a wide-awake-Lady-Light-in-the-dark.
I mean, think about it: since this past Sunday, I have made guest lists, planned menus, prepared and cooked (together with my husband for some of it: he actually is the 'main chef' in the household, as cooking has always been his avocation) 36 holishkes, a whole brisket with vegetables, trays of honeyed chicken quarters, baked ten challot (in addition to the four I baked last week which I had already frozen), food-shopped and prepped vegetables for chicken soup and fruit soup (my husband made those, thank the Lord), helped fill a water bed, did loads of laundry, folded & put 'em away, set up Tzipi's room for guests staying over the three-day Yom-Tov ( she's the one in the IDF. Her room is temporarily...for at least a year...a guest room), and brother, I am psyched ! whoa, that was a really long sentence. . .
My middlest daughter Toodles is here for the chag (again, thank the Lord!) and she was an invaluable help: she helped her father-along with some friends who volunteered-put up our sukkah, which is made of plywood and has to be bolted in place. And she single-handedly (mine were in the fish) decorated it with our tried-and-true pictures, paintings, drawings, booklets, collages, cards, etc. which we saved from the Jurassic Age when our kids did them in pre-school. They are now in their twenties and thirties. And eighteens (my baby in the IDF).
Then, not satisfied with that, my talented daughter (she is a BBA major and a web-designer-cum-graphic-artist, having designed her brother's wedding invitation and bentcher logos and worked on her older sister's company's website) decided to paint a design in pastels around the words "ve-samachta be-chagecha, ve-hayita ach sameach" on the sukkah door. It is beautiful: a bold, bright, intricate design with the phrase rising up out of the houses of Jerusalem, with the full moon and yellow 'Jewish stars' in a techelet sky above. A Sistene Chapel masterpiece.
I love the holiday of Sukkot; I had 'taken on' the mitzvah of the arba'ah minim and leshev ba-sukkah years ago. When we still had our house, I sometimes slept in the sukkah, but not where we are now: too small (the sukkah), too un-adventurous (me).
We are pretty strict in the halachah of building the sukkah; we follow the Hazon Ish, who disallowed any substance sheh-mekabel tum'ah-any substance which takes on impurity, such as metal-from touching the schach or even the boards holding up the schach. So we can't just hang decorations from the ceiling like normal people; we have to do it in such a way that it doesn't impurify the sukkah. Much more difficult. But gratifying.
Also, our minhag is that kabbalistically speaking, in the end of days the only Jewish holiday remaining will be Sukkot, and all the other holidays will be encompassed in it, so in our sukkah we are surrounded by symbols of every Jewish holiday in the calendar year, either hanging from the beams (halachically correctly, of course) or on the walls .
For some people it might be a bit strange to be sitting at the table, staring at a drawing of a seder plate, but for me, it's Sukkat Oro shel Livyatan. . .
By the way, none of these sukkot pictured here are ours. Although the first year we were here, our sukkah did look something like this:
Not exactly the promised land. . .