Haazinu - 5779

Dear Congregant,

The other day, as I was preparing dinner in the kitchen,  I heard a shriek from the next room, where I had left my two-year old son Sasson snacking on raisins.  Suspecting the worst, I run into the room to see him grinning ear-to-ear, raisins scattered liberally over every surface.

“What happened?” I asked him, too astonished even to be angry.

“The raisins jumped!” he responded, laughing.

The raisins jumped off your plate and onto the floor and table?” I asked him incredulously.

“Yes,” he shook his head emphatically, “They jumped on the ground [his word for floor], the table and chairs.  Even into the sky,” he added, pointing to the ceiling.

Dinner was already late and my to-do list was long.  So, without further ado I set about cleaning up the raisins, from every surface I could (easily) reach, wondering as I did so if there really were any raisins caught on the light fixture overhead (I did not see any sticking to the ceiling).

During the coming week our tradition invites us to imagine – with my son – that the walls, floors and ceilings that typically bound our world are, in fact, porous.  It suggests that by pushing back on the structures – concrete or conceptual – that confine us we can truly access both the earth that grounds us and the heavens that embrace us.

The rites associated with the holiday of Sukkot, which begins this Sunday night, are among Judaism’s most simple and transparent.  The holiday invites us to take ourselves out of our normal built environment, to move some of our most basic functions – eating, sleeping, socializing, reading – into a space so flimsy and temporary that it hardly qualifies as a structure. 

From the perspective of this sukkah, this temporary shelter with just a hint of a roof, we are encouraged to re-envision our connection to the planet, to our Creator and to one another.

Wishing everyone a restful Shabbat and a truly joyous Sukkot celebration (Zaman simchateinu) – and, no, I’ve not yet checked for those raisins,

-- Rabbi Rachel Safman