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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