September 27, 2021
I love this part of the holiday season. It’s the joyful part that feels “easy” and easy nowadays feels really nice. It’s funny, but there’s actually a passage in the Talmud that says “I have one easy mitzvah and sukkot is it’s name.” (Avodah Zara)
That passage from the Talmud makes me smile because setting up the sukkah and decorating it and hosting meals doesn’t always feel so “easy” but given all we’ve been living through for the past year and a half – being outside, with people we enjoy, and eating yummy foods, accompanied by an occasional glass of wine, and just “being” has felt quite delightful.
This year, we’ve been basking in the simplicity of being outside in our sukkah that doesn’t have much in it; just lots of pretty paper lanterns hanging from the bamboo roof. There are chairs to sit on, tables covered with pretty scented candles, and yesterday’s backgammon and Ticket To Ride games that aren’t yet finished. That’s it though. In my sukkah, there’s no laundry waiting to be folded or newspapers that need to be recycled, there’s no sports equipment that needs to get cleaned and put away. So I walk a few steps out my back door and head to the sukkah and it’s like a mini retreat that awaits me.
We’re just a couple of weeks into the new year. Last year we all slowed down, we gave up many of our extracurricular activities and leisure, and we lived “simpler” lives. Many of us felt like we would one day miss the simplicity. Are you there yet? And… what would it take for you / us to keep things a little simpler this year and to go more gently into the world that awaits us?
Wishing you all a joyful last stretch of sukkot, a beautiful day of tarrying and remembering for shemini atzeret and then a celebratory simchatTorah! And of course, a happy and healthy 5782 that’s filled with blessings!
Rabbi Dana Saroken