Jewish Soul Journey

THOUGHTS ON LIVING WITH THE SPIRITUAL SUCCAH ALL YEAR ROUND

           But, why, we might ask, why would we want to live inside a succah all year round?  As adults, we might  have experienced  this essentially roofless abode as cold and  wet or hot and  uncomfortable, visited by unlovely critters and difficult to keep clean.  We might not have particularly relished serving meals in a place very distant from our kitchens and in the absence  of the amenities of our dining rooms.  Those of us who live in apartment buildings may have found it quite challenging to fulfill the mitzvah of leyshev b’succah altogether.

Happily, the  small child inside of us has other memories and feelings connected with the succah. Let us take a moment and think back to our earliest experiences in the Succah.   Remember  how we used to look for the  twinkling stars through the thatch and how  entranced we were by the grapes, fruits and garlands hanging upside down from the  beams.  This  child within us can yet feel the  Ananei Hakavod, the clouds of glory, that surround our succahs and experience  the joy,  the happiness and the feeling of closeness and protection  the succah offers. We can and in fact should make every effort to recapture those feelings and allow ourselves to fully appreciate this mitzvah so that as adults, we can understand the mitzvah of succah  at a more profound level. 

The source  of the simcha of Succos,  lies deep within the external makifim, coverings, of the mitzvah.  When we part these coverings, we will be able  to see how we can derive true spiritual benefit  from the succah throughout the year.  The  secret of the succah is  hidden in its roof. While the walls of the succah  can be made of almost any material, the roof  – s’chach of the succah has very specific requirements.   The halacha requires that the s’chach  be made of material  that has grown from the ground and is  now  detached, and is material that cannot become a conduit for spiritual contamination.

               Once we understand how these laws can  be applied to our homes, we can  indeed be surrounded by the succah with its Annanei  Hakavod all the year round.

The s’chach must be made of material that has grown from the ground.  In order to become a suitable marriage partner, we must recognize the value of  the home in which we were raised because it provided our “grounding.”   If we were fortunate enough to have  grown  up in a home with a Torah perspective,  where service of Hashem was of primary importance, then that becomes a strong and true foundation upon which we can build our own home.   But know that the home in which we were raised , is the home Hashem planned for us, and  thus the right place for us. whatever its point of view was.  If we have any doubt as to this fact, think of Avraham Avinu’s parental home—and recognize that even the home of  idol worshippers can produce beautiful fruit.      Regardless of the sort of home we grew up in,  we can all  take appropriate spiritual nourishment from our upbringing by focusing upon the strengths of that home rather than upon its weaknesses. We must refrain from being critical of our parents and our siblings, even privately. Instead, we must make every effort to see them as the spiritual and physical soil in which we were nurtured and feel a deep gratitude to them.

     The next law of  the s’chach is that it must be cut from its source.  When we come into marriage, we must  cut ourselves loose from our rooting place.  If we don’t do this, then we might find ourselves living in the past, demanding to be treated as if we were still children in our parents’ homes.    We are also in danger of assuming that our homes are going to be run the way our parents’ homes were run which assumption may lead to us making unfavorable comparisons between our parents and our spouses.

In order to properly detach ourselves, we must appreciate that the home that we build with our spouse is meant to be a home which will bear the stamp of our own unique personalities both in its successes and in its failures.  We will know that we have succeeded in this task when we are able to gently create appropriate boundaries between ourselves and our parents—boundaries which let them in but do not admit of any kind of  meddlesome intrusion into areas that should be reserved strictly for ourselves and our spouses.

            The final halacha governing the s’chach is that it must not be made from material that is m’kabel tumah- subject to becoming impure through contamination with impure substances. That is to say not to allow ourselves to become attached to alien values that are inconsistent with a Torah way of life and can adopt for ourselves life giving, life promoting Torah values.

 Whatever our earlier circumstances were, once severed from our own grounding,  it is crucial that we  make every effort to establish a home that is free from the kinds of influences that undermine our ability to serve Hashem with Yirah and Ahava and Simcha for our own sakes and for the sakes of our children.  We will only be able to create the kind of home in which  the Shechina is shorait  when we build our s’chach of material that is not subject to such contamination.  We must be on guard in every possible way against  spiritual contaminants  which threaten to invade our homes and only allow those things which enhance our spiritual well being.

             When we cover our lives with a roof made of emuna, we will surely see blessings in the fruits of our labors all the year round.              

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia

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