By Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C
The holiday of Sukkot is one filled with rituals and practices that can provide meaning the entire family can appreciate. In addition to the direct Torah commandment to ‘live in a temporary hut for seven days’ there are some deeper explanations provided for this commandment. Let us focus on one of them and try to apply that meaning in each of our own lives.
In essence, the Torah is commanding us to remove ourselves from the comfort of our sturdy, structurally sound, and toasty warm homes to instead reside in a structure that is both temporary and exposed in nature. What is the purpose? By intentionally placing ourselves outside and in a vulnerable state it is as if we are saying, “God, we are in your hands now.” We are affirming that no matter how many walls we build, comforts we surround ourselves with, or alarm systems we install, our protection and sustainability is provided by the One Above. It would be as if the 3rd little pig left his brick home and went to live with his (witty, but engineeringly challenged) brother in the straw hut while the wolf circled around. A bit counterintuitive, no? This is the powerful opportunity afforded by Sukkot. By setting an intentional time to step outside we can actually create a relationship with our creator that is both empowering and comforting.
For us, and for the clients we serve, I think there are two take-away messages. Houses appear secure and impressive from the outside. The painful reality for many is that, in fact, the residents of those houses are safer on the ‘outside’ than the ‘inside’. Structures and security are not mutually inclusive. A house does not make a home. Sometimes taking that brave step outside of what appears to be our comfort zone is in truth stepping into a safe zone. This is also a reminder for us to avoid judging a house by its’ exterior.
A second message we hope our clients learn to accept is that while stepping out into the outside world and sharing creates a sense of vulnerability, there are those who are looking out, care, and are willing to help assist and protect within this vast, uncertain world. It may not seem obvious at first glance that there is a shield from the ‘elements’. However, hovering in the distance are organizations and individuals who are ready to come along for the journey and provide support each step of the way.
Have a happy and meaningful Sukkot!