By Cantor Emma Lutz
After our meaningful weeks of praying together as a community during the Days of Awe, our tradition springs us immediately into the holiday of Sukkot. This Festival of Booths is known as z’man simchateinu, our time of rejoicing. After the intensely spiritual and self-reflective fast day of Yom Kippur, we quickly shift into this eight-day festival of welcoming strangers, sharing meals, and celebrating the change of the season.
In the Talmud, our sages teach us that “a sukkah should have the characteristics of a dirat arai, a temporary and impermanent dwelling and therefore does not require a mezuzah” (Mishnah Yoma 10b). Both the ritual of building temporary dwelling spaces as well as the Jewish calendar’s stark juxtaposition of reflection and festivity are reminders for us all that nothing in life is permanent. Indeed, because nothing we hold dear is ever permanent, all the more so must we express our gratitude for what we have.
During Sukkot, we also remember that we are not defined by our material possessions. Our festive but fragile sukkahs serve as a reminder of what truly makes a home a home: it is not the structure, not the walls, not the foundation, but the hands and the hearts and the souls within. As we swiftly shift from the seriousness of the Days of Awe into the joyful days of Sukkot, let us recognize the importance of making time for all of the beautiful and impermanent things in our lives that we most deeply cherish.
Moadim l’simchah—may this be a season of joy for us all!