Monday, September 24, 2018

A Poem for Sukkot by the Editor-in-Chief

My Deck, My Sukkah
Shmuel ben Moshe HaLevi

Every year just after Yom Kippur
my wife visits the local Chabad
to purchase a lulav and etrog
for our family to use during Sukkot. 

This year the day before Sukkot
we visited the local Farmer’s Market
to purchase decorative pumpkins
with which to adorn our makeshift sukkah.

Our deck not exactly kosher
as it is a permanent structure
and the trees in our backyard
form a canopy overhead

But we do dedicate it for its special purpose
with prayers and the lighting of candles. 
It is there that I as the man of the house
will eat every meal for the next eight days. 

I am supposed to sleep there too but do not,
leaving that particular tradition to the more hardcore. 
My wife will sometimes join me during the day.
The sparrows, finches, and chickadees almost always do.

My daughter joins me only once or twice during the week.
“Too many bugs,” she says.  After dark, I am usually alone.
I can see the moon and stars through the pergola at night--
this at least is a kosher aspect of my little booth. 

Every year I do this and every year I say to myself
that it is so nice and peaceful that I should eat
on the deck occasionally during the rest of the year.
But I never do.  Somehow, I just never do.

Poet’s/Editor’s Notes:  Sukkot, or the Festival of Booths, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that usually falls during the early autumn of the year just after Yom Kippur.  It is a harvest festival recalling the days when the ancient Hebrews lived in makeshift booths in the fields to maximize the time on site for working to bring in the crops.  Not many Jews celebrate Sukkot these days, but at one time it was the most observed and important holiday of the year, known as HaChag, literally “THE Holiday.”

Part of the tradition of Sukkot involves the waving of the lulav and etrog.  This rather odd custom, perhaps pagan in origin, is said to ensure rain in the proper amount in its proper season.

There are certain rules (the Jews have rules for everything, believe me!) for the construction of a sukkah--rules that I have chosen not to follow strictly.  A proper, kosher sukkah should be a freestanding structure.  Mine is a permanent deck.  There should be no branches of trees overhanging its roof.  My backyard is almost a forest.  Also, and here my sukkah scores a point, there should be enough defects in the roof so that the stars may be seen at night.


Those interested in finding out more about sukkahs, lulavs, etrogs, and other Sukkot traditions will find it useful to visit here https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4784/jewish/What-Is-Sukkot.htm.  Chag sameach!

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