One of New York City’s busiest — and briefest — shopping centers made its annual appearance this week.
Between Sunday, the day after Yom Kippur, and Wednesday, erev Sukkot, a stretch of several blocks along the south side of Main Street in Queens’ heavily Jewish Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood, became a pre-holiday bazaar. At wooden tables set up along the street, Sukkot supplies went on sale.
Available were Four Species sets and materials for family sukkahs. And, in once-a-year storefronts, ready-to-assemble sukkahs themselves.
Don’t you have anything more important to do today, on the eve of the last days of the long Sukkot holiday -- at the end of a month of two-and-a-half day work weeks -- than read blogs?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have you here, just a little surprised, that’s all. I wasn’t really expecting anyone. Thought I would just vent in private about how tough this month has been in terms of keeping up with work responsibilities.
As holidays go, Sukkot has its fair share of rituals. In addition to building the huts and eating in them, the prayer for dew, the ushpizin and of course the blessing of the four species, I’ve added one of my own.
Each fall after the High Holidays have passed, the Jewish people move from comfortable homes into impermanent huts in backyards, driveways and on balconies for the festival of Sukkot. By eating and living in these fragile shelters, we train ourselves to temporarily subordinate our gashmiut (materialism) to the value of ruchaniut (spirituality).
For a major holiday, Sukkot sneaks up on us. Less than a week after the grandeur and majestic pomp of the Days of Awe, we find ourselves doing construction work and pretty much living under branches and within the fluttering sukkah walls in our backyards and porches. From our Rosh HaShanah-Yom Kippur finery, we’re now dressed, as often as not, in coats and sweaters, swatting bees and sensing the change of seasons.
What is the true symbolism of the sukkah? The Talmud [B.T. Sukkah 11b] cites a difference of opinion between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Eliezer as to whether the sukkah commemorates the huts in which the Israelites dwelt in the desert, or the “clouds of glory” which encompassed us in the desert as a sign of Divine protection.
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