Entering the Embrace

18 Sep
View of different types of sechach (sukkah roofs).

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur, the Ten Days of Repentance, and really even since the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul in early August, we have been concerning ourselves with t’shuva. Traditionally, God is thought to be closer during this six week period on the calendar, and therefore more open to our personal introspection and desires to change. On Rosh Hashana we reach the first of two high points, taking two days of prayer and shofar blasts to proclaim God as the King of Kings. Even with these festive declarations and the meals that accompany, Yom Kippur looms. As I mentioned in my most recent post, the intensity and urgency of our cheshbon nefesh (introspection) is accelerated as Yom Kippur approaches. The marathon of Yom Kippur begins with a sense of awe and trepidation, both because of the fast, and the personal theological implications. The lengthy prayers of Yom Kippur day eventually conclude as the sun melts into the horizon. We are hopeful that forgiveness has been earned, that we have been sealed for good, and in the closing moments once again proclaim that God is ubiquitous, but do we really know?

Five days stand between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, as dictated by the Torah.  In Israel, this is enough time for parking lots, sidewalks, and balconies, to be transformed into small villages of the temporary dwellings. The four species are purchased, with an eye towards finding the most beautiful specimen. Although the preparations for the holiday are in full swing, I can’t help but wonder, did I do enough? how was I sealed? what will be of this year? The sukkah and the four species, I want to suggest, are a representation of the preferred answers to all of those questions. We enter the sukkah and are surrounded, one of only three mitzvot for which that can be said. The four species are waved in all directions, an indication and proclamation of Gods presence in the world. The residual nervousness from Yom Kippur fades as the sukkah embraces us, protecting us from what’s outside. Thus the sukkah demonstrates an intimate relationship with God that we hope is indicative of God’s omnipotence in the coming year.

Wishing everybody a chag sameach.

2 Responses to “Entering the Embrace”

  1. Hank 14 Wed+02:002013-09-18T19:25:23+02:00+02:0009b+02:00Wed, 18 Sep 2013 19:25:23 +0200, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Very well said. I never thought of it that way.

    Chag Sameach!


  1. Yom Kippur Schmatta of a Bar Noach | Hebrew Hutong - 14 Tue+02:002013-09-24T04:40:47+02:00+02:0009b+02:00Tue, 24 Sep 2013 04:40:47 +0200, 2012

    […] Entering the Embrace (shibleyhaleket.wordpress.com) […]

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