Goodbyes have always been hard for me. Saying Farewell to the sukkah is no exception. The mixed emotions of remembering the joys connected to this amazing holiday and the vivid awareness of the Divine Presence of Hashem, our One G-d and Creator that it brings with it is utterly so very wonderful …and then all too soon it seems, we have to bid it farewell…and saying farewell to the sukkah one year in particularly remains engrained in my memory for it became all too real for me.
Flashback to 1994, Beaumont, TX… I remember vividly as though it were yesterday the thoughts going through my head as I stood at our sliding glass door leading onto our back patio with tears streaming down my face as I tried to say “goodbye” to our sukkah that year. I remember gazing at it longingly and telling HaShem, “I don’t want to say goodbye…this is where my heart is…this is where I have so strongly felt your Presence…out there, in the sukkah…this house, this is the temporary dwelling, this is nothing… I belong out there…with You!”
Within a week and without warning our house flooded… we lost our home and practically everything we owned… our hopes and plans to move to Israel were dashed…at age 50+ we had to start over.
So what is the Life Lesson? Are there any Hidden Sparks beneath the surface?”
I read recently and agree wholeheartedly that yes, we do have the opportunity to experience HaShem in a real way when we “dwell in a sukkah,” because for a short time, we can leave our houses and our material possessions and we can spend our time outside in a temporary shelter…we can eat and read and study and pray and fellowship with our Creator, with friends and family…and sleep outside under the stars…this provides us with an amazing opportunity to change our focus…to realize what is really important in life. I experienced that and loved it and am so very thankful.
When it comes time to say farewell to the sukkah, (as there is a time and a season for everything), it can be extremely difficult, but it helps us to realize than even though we can no longer dwell in the sukkah, the sukkah can dwell in us…for we can carry it with us into the coming year! For me, this was profound…like a hidden spark beneath the surface… it really hit me that it was indeed this concept of the sukkah with the Divine Presence of G-d dwelling in me that has sustained me through all the ups and downs of the past three plus decades.
I have been richly blessed in the midst of it all…including the time of the flood. I have built many sukkahs since then and had to say good-bye over and over, but now it is not quite so painful because I know that I can carry it with me. For the past three years I have been unable to put up a sukkah, but the sukkah still dwells in me… I still carry it along with the Divine Presence in my heart, Baruch HaShem!
As we wind down from the wonderful High Holiday season and its joyous Festivals, may we all carry the sukkah and the awareness of the Divine Presence within us as we go forward to meet the coming year and may we each be blessed as we go from strength to strength. HalleluYAH!