Sukkot is a time when we remind ourselves of the fragility of our own existence by dwelling in the sukkah. At first I was thinking that, giving all the instability in our world at the moment, few of us need an additional reminder of the fragility of life. Tsunamis. Hurricanes. Tornados. (Almost ) nuclear meltdowns. Financial meltdowns. Continuing wars. Poverty. Disease. Pollution. Global warming. Things couldn’t be much more fragile than they are. Do we really need to dwell in a sukkah for a few days to remind us of our fragility. Do we need the anamnesis of reliving as our ancestors lived?
Yet history continues to remind us what we too easily forget when we fail to remind ourselves, periodically, of the fragility of existence. We become complacent, comfortable, even over-confident.
When we dwell in the sukkah, we are more likely to understand and have compassion for those whose lives truly are that fragile on a daily basis. As big a mess as our economy is in, many of us live lives of relative comfort and ease in comparison to many in this world.
When we dwell in the sukkah, we are more likely to be attuned to the fragility in our own lives brought about by a combination of institutional greed and crass consumerism. We’ll be reminded that we are (at least most of us) part of the 99% and we need to stand up for economic fairness and justice in our world.
In many places tonight it’s raining. How many people will retreat from dining in their sukkah because of the rain? What might we learn and how might we be better persons if we ignored the rain and ate and even slept in our sukkot (always bearing in mind that human life is precious and we must do nothing to cause harm to ourselves.)
After Sukkot we can all return to our people caves with out 56” flat screens, iPads, heating and air conditioning, solid roofs, etc. We’ll lose sight of that fragility. We will be the worse for that.
To paraphrase that obnoxious beer commercial:
Stay fragile, my friends.
Shabbat Shalom, Moadim L’Simkha,
©2011 by Adrian A. Durlester
Other musings for Sukkot: