A Grain of Sand

"I will multiply you as the stars in heaven and as the sand upon the shore." - Genesis 22:17

"I can see the master's hand in every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand." - Dylan, Every Grain of Sand (on Shot of Love)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Sukkah Born Every Minute

I actually don't have a post to go with that title, though we could think of one.

So, if you don't know, Sukkot it coming up Friday night. (At Har HaShem, by the way, there is a Sukkah-decorating program for families at 5:00 on Friday, followed by a family service and picnic. The "grown-up" services are at 7:00).

Anyway - a couple of thoughts. Each year the chagim (Jewish festivals) have a different meaning for me (and for all of us). This year, there's a sort of anti-materialism tradition that I'm digging.

There's a whole social critique connected to Sukkot that we can read as an anti-consumerist impluse, cutting against the insane bounty of our society. Even in a time of economic difficulty - and I'm sure some reading this have been personally affected by job-losses - Americans live with expectations that we should have cell phones, stereos, enough food to make us flabby, cars, computers, iPods, BlackBerry's huge TVs, etc.

Maimonides writes that Sukkkot reminds us of our time in the desert in order "to teach people to remember, during time of prosperity, harder times. We will then want to thank God repeatedly and to lead a modest and humble life."

Can hanging out in a booth with gourds hanging from the roof really bring us to that level of awareness and modesty? What do you think?


  1. Can it? Sure. But for me, the brisk weather and new good foods eaten outdoors is more of a connection to nature than a reminder of deprivation. The temporary nature of the sukkah reminds me of the blessings of civilization. The tent always seems the cozier the worse the weather.

  2. I think tonight (for those in the Front Range) it won't remind them too much of the desert. But if water dripping from the aforementioned gourds and shivering will help us recollect a time of deprivation...then we are all set. Chag S'ameach.

  3. Moepackman, There's the trick - to be aware of blessings of civilization without succumbing to them.

    Andrew - halachah addresses the sukkah that has rain running into it. But you'd better warm that thing up for your guests....