By: L. Azar
I love the holiday of Sukkot. I love gathering together with family and enjoying meals outdoors in wooden huts, surrounded by homemade crafts and photos of our great rabbis. I love the in and out hustle and bustle and even the chilly nip in the air. There’s a deeper reason Sukkot is so dear to me, though. You see, with the onset of Elul we become deeply thoughtful, on Rosh Hashanah, we pledge to do better and by the time we emerge from Yom Kippur, we feel like new and better people. From there, we segue right into Sukkot, when we experience the special closeness and loving embrace of Hashem, our Father. And that feels good.
If you think about it, on Sukkot we leave our homes as much as possible. We also eat, sleep and do as much as we can in those sukkot. When we leave our shelters, we demonstrate that our physical protection is ultimately from Him. We search for the guiding hand of Hashem and know that He constantly orchestrates events from on High for our benefit.
Case in point:
A few years ago, my brother, Yaakov, was driving home to Brooklyn from Baltimore, Maryland. It was late, he was alone and the endless highway stretched before him. The only company he had for the three-hour drive were the echoes a lecture he’d heard titled “Strengthening Our Emuna and Bitachon.”As my brother navigated through a maze of highways, Rabbi Isaac Dwek’s message slowly sank in. Hashem is really watching over us and guiding our lives. The truth solidified in Yaakov’s mind.
In a haze of exhaustion, Yaakov finally spotted his street corner. Even better, he found a parking spot down the block, a wondrous feat at close to two in the morning. My faith and trust at work, Yaakov congratulated himself proudly - until, that is, he emerged from his car and saw an innocent sign resting peacefully beside his spot: No Standing Anytime. Guess not, he thought as he mechanically reentered his Nissan and threw his head tiredly against the headrest. This time, though, Yaakov pondered the true meaning of faith and trust. Hashem is the One in charge of parking spots, whether at two in the afternoon or two in the morning. If He willed it, my brother realized as he started his engine, He could clear a spot right in front of my own home.
Yaakov’s musings were interrupted by a small commotion outside. He watched as Tony, from across the street, slammed his front door shut, jumped into the red Ford parked in front of my brother’s house, and squeezed the vehicle into his garage. Openmouthed, my brother eased into the now-open spot directly in front of his home. He flagged down the pajama-clad Tony who was clambering up his front steps.
“Excuse me for intruding,” Yaakov said, still dumbstruck by the awesomeness of what had just happened, “but what on earth was that about?”
“Aw, it’s nothin’ major, Sonny,” Tony replied. “I just had a nightmare that my car here was gettin’ robbed. I got the creeps – y’know? So I decided, I’m movin’ it to the garage.”
With that, Tony turned and disappeared into his house.
Does it get any clearer than that?
Sukkot is compared to a wedding where Hashem is the groom, so to speak, we are His bride and the sukkah itself is the wedding canopy. During Sukkot, the bond between us and our Father is cemented.
Some years ago, I kept a hashgaha pratit (Divine Providence) notebook, where I recorded at least one time each day when I saw the hand of Hashem. During that time, I profoundly felt the Gdly embrace that we feel so acutely on Sukkot. Something tells me it’s time to unearth that notebook and revive the tradition just in time for the holidays.
Anyone care to join me?