SUCCOT – Johanna Shapiro

Dear Family, Shabbat shalom!  I thought I’d do something a little different for my OGT.  I usually rely on Dad for the Jewish didactics, but this time I wanted to give you a heads up about, yes, yet another Jewish holiday.

As you know Judaism is filled with holidays (holy days).  Many of them we kind of glide by, but as RH and YK came to an end (and we are still here!), I got interested in the next celebration, which is Succot. Succot starts this Sunday Oct 9 and ends Sun eve Oct 16.  As you know, Dad and I focus more on the “inner meanings” of the holidays rather than their behavioral manifestations, although some of these are kind of fun (kids, remember when we’d build a sukkah using the deck awning and some palm branches?).

So what is Sukkot? Sukkot commemorates the 40 years the Jewish people spent wandering in the desert on their way to the Promised Land after escaping slavery in Egypt. We build a sukkah (okay, maybe only in our minds!) to remind us of the fragility and impermanence in life, as well as a reminder that God’s love, our love for each other, and love in general are what creates security and protection. Sukkot is also called also called _Z’man Simchateinu (Season of Our Rejoicing), and it is the only festival with an explicit commandment to rejoice!!!

One of the traditions is to shake a lulav and an etrog daily during Sukkot.  And you may well ask, what the hey is a lulav and an etrog?

The lulav is made up of branches of palm, myrtal, and will tied together. Each type of greenery has a specific meaning, which is nice to ponder:

Palm refers to the backbone, uprightness.

Myrtle corresponds to the eyes, enlightenment.

Willow represents the lips, the service of the lips (prayer).

The etrog is a kind of lemony-looking fruit.  It symbolizes the heart, the place of understanding and wisdom.

So as we metaphorically shake our lulav and contemplate our etrog, we can think of how we can be upright, enlightened, prayerful and practice right speech, and always be seeking understanding and wisdom in our hearts.

And of course, above all we should rejoice – i.e., sing, dance, “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” ????

Build your sukkah of the mind, shake your lulov and etrog in your heart, and think about love, wisdom, and joy.