October 13, 2011

Yesterday I sat on the couch most of the day, sniffing and coughing and watching old episodes of Parenthood on Netflix. I did get dressed around noon, which was a really proud moment. Please hold your applause. After I got dressed, I returned to the couch and ate a cough drop. Then I thought about how I really needed to write a lesson, but my hands were tired and as I’ve previously explained my computer screen was taken up with the Bravermans. Anyhoo, today is a new day, and whether I feel awesome or not, there are things to do, people. After all, we’re celebrating a holiday!

So, Sukkot (Sue-COAT) is the next holiday commanded by God in Leviticus 23:33-43. We sometimes hear it called the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths. It’s a harvest holiday that lasts for seven days; on the first and last days you are to rest and do no work (I took advantage of that command yesterday). God also told the people to live in sukkahs (booths) for those seven days because that is what they did when they wandered in the desert for 40 years. God wanted the Israelite descendents to remember that time — how God brought them out of Egypt and provided for them in the desert. The Bible also tells the people to take ripe fruit and leafy branches and green palm fronds and rejoice before the Lord in thankfulness. He provided for all their needs in the desert, and he brought them into the Promised Land!

People still celebrate Sukkot by building little shelters in their backyards. There are all kinds of rules for building a sukkah — certain parts must be made out of natural materials and you decorate them with festive colors. (If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy one here.)

Here’s what a sukkah looks like. Aww, sukkah, sukkah now.

Here is a tent-like sukkah.

But what if you live in an apartment and don’t have a backyard? No worries — sukkahs can be built on your balcony.

Or even on a boat.

A lot of people don’t sleep in their sukkahs, but they eat dinner in them every night. The sukkah is a place to have fun and enjoy being with friends. Because it is a joyous holiday, your sukkah should have a roof sturdy enough to keep you shaded and comfortable, but not so solid that you are prevented from gazing up at the stars at night.

Sukkot comes right after the serious Day of Atonement, and it switches the tone up completely. It is joyful — a time of gratefulness and thanksgiving to God. Sukkot is also a time of showing hospitality — you can invite your friends over to have dinner with you in your sukkah. It’s also a time to be generous — you give to the poor and share with those in need. Part of Sukkot is remembering that our possessions are temporary and can come and go; it is God who provides for us, and God whose love and grace is permanent.

So, there’s a good article in the Washington Post that really summed up what we can learn from the seven days of dwelling in temporary shelters:

If one has been blessed — our profits outweigh our expenditures, our portfolio has grown and our wine cellars are full and satisfaction and trust fill our soul — it is at that moment that the Torah tells us to leave our home and dwell in a sukkah. The frail booth teaches us that neither wealth, good investments, IRA’s or even real-estate are life’s safeguards. It is God who sustains us all, those in palaces and those in tents. Any glory or wealth we posses came to us from God, and will endure so long as it is God’s will.

And if our toil has not resulted in great blessing — our investments went south, we lost our job and nest-egg, our cellars are empty, and we face the approaching winter with mounting debt and bills, living off credit from month to month, forlorn and fearful for how we will survive— then as we enter the sukkah we find rest for our troubled soul. Divine providence is more reliable than worldly wealth which can vanish in an instant. The sukkah will renew our strength and courage, and teach and inspire us with joy and perseverance even in the face of affliction and hardship.

So, Sukkot started last night at sundown and continues for the next week. I’m planning some hospitality for the week, and, although I will not be building a shelter, I do plan to have dinner on my deck at least a couple of times. Any ideas for ways we can serve or help the poor this week?

There’s lots more cool stuff about Sukkot, but we’ll get to that tomorrow. Come back, OK? Bring your friends. Remember today that God provides for us because he is good. His love endures forever!


6 Responses to “Sukkot!”

  1. Becca said

    I love the quote you shared from the article. I may talk with Kyla about this. The reason is we had a fire in our building last week, and then a few days before that 7 townhomes at a nearby complex burnt down. It occurred to her the other night that the people there lost everything, just like our neighbors 4 doors down. She was VERY concerned and wanted to help.

    I think sharing about Sukkot could help her understand that whether our literal shelter is still standing or not, that God sustains us all. She also prayed that God would help her know how to help the people, even if she should help the people. I’ll let you know what we come up with this week…

  2. denisemorris said

    Becca, I love this. Sweet, Kyla. I think it could be a really good way to help her understand God’s provision, and maybe help provide for those who lost their homes! Would love to hear more about it.

  3. I think we will have to celebrate this particular holiday during our boys camp at Camp Joy next summer, they could build and live in sukkahs for the week! Hope you are feeling better Denise!

  4. laura said

    I like this. I think I will share it on my social medias.

  5. denisemorris said

    Dale — yes, that would be awesome!!

    Laura — why, thank you! I like when you share it on your social medias. 😉

  6. […] Sukkot ends todayish. As I mentioned before, it’s a week-long event in which you make a shelter (sukkah) in your yard and show […]

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