Rabbinic Reflections: Issue 34

Thoughts to Ponder in Your Sukkah

October 2, 2020

Dear Holy Friends,

I hope this correspondence finds you doing well and in good health. Thank you so much for joining us for our High Holy Day live-streamed services. We were thrilled to have you.

Please allow me to wish you not only a Shabbat of Peace and Tranquility but also a festive and joyous holiday of Sukkoth. Whereas, our physical Sukkah will not be set up this year due to the Covid restrictions, please know that our Sukkah of the Soul is open to you all each and every day. Specifically, in the Torah, we are commanded to be happy on this holiday and even though there are still restrictions, we pray that you will find joy, gratitude and blessings in the days to come.

In honor of the seven days of Sukkoth, allow me to share with you a few pieces of Sukkoth trivia:

  1. The largest Sukkah in the world was built in 2016 in Tel Aviv. It is a 700-meter square temporary structure that during the holiday a few years ago welcomed over 25,000 guests.
  2. The smallest and most modest Sukkah in the world measures only ten handbreadths high and has only three walls, but nonetheless there is more shade than sun (ok…. I know this from the Mishna!)
  3. The first Sukkah built in Wilmette, Illinois (adjacent to Skokie Illinois) was built by Israel Berkowitz (of blessed memory), who was a soldier in the Israeli army during the War of Independence and personally knew Chayim Weitzman. Mr. Berkowitz was originally given a fine by the local police for building “an addition” to his home without applying for a town permit.
  4. Dr. Raymond Glassenberg, an anesthesiologist and Yeshiva graduate in Chicago went before a Beit Din (rabbinical court) to argue that a geodesic, sphere-like structure, can be considered kosher even though it did not have walls that could be enumerated.
  5. In Toronto, Canada, it often snows during Sukkoth and the typical attire for the holiday includes parkas, scarfs, boots and (hopefully) space heaters.
  6. In contrast to the above fact, there is an obvious reason why the holiday of Sukkoth was originally intended to be celebrated in Israel, during its most beautiful season.
  7. God offers us the best Sukkah of all. God’s Sukkah includes understanding and acceptance for all, blessings of health and gratitude and a safe space to share our own spirituality. Our congregation offers the same: CBIOTP (a sense of Caring, a community of Building, a space of Integrity, an institution that strives to be Outstanding, a vibrant Temple, and a community of Peace).

May this Shabbat and holiday of Sukkoth bring you untold blessings and strength.

With love and blessings,

Rabbi Eric L. Wasser, EdD
201 562 5277

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