Ufros Aleinu Sukkat shalom
by Jhos Singer
Yay!! Sukkot is here, our season of cool, Jewish, backyard fort life. I love that a sukkah isn’t kosher unless it is flimsy, temporary and has a roof holey enough that you can see the stars from inside at night. What a perfect way to express our faith and vitality!! Every year I put up our sukkah staring at the sky for signs—will it rain? Is the S’chach (fronds, branches and vines that make the roof) going to blow off if the winds get whipping? Will it be too cold to enjoy a meal? And though I never get answers to any of those questions, I build it anyway.
Outdoors and and out of our comfort zone, we open our selves at a time of year that is at once glorious and unpredictable. Building a sukkah acknowledges our vulnerability and our hope, our limits and our generosity. Once up, the sukkah waits to be filled with food, company, stories, songs and memories; beautified with fruits and vegetables, strings of lights, tapestries, rugs, a table, some chairs and colorful cushions. The wobbly, temporary and celebratory nature of the sukkah is a not-so-subtle reminder that life itself is subject to gravity, brevity and felicity.
Shabbat is a similar practice—to leave work, worry and woe for 25 hours is as spiritually daring as eating a week’s worth of autumn meals in a floppy hut. Our daily obligations tend to act as solid walls around us. And then Shabbat comes along, beckoning us to leave that sense of control and security, and instead to dwell in the joy of pure existence without judgment; with an open and spiritually adventurous heart. Its practice is founded on a simple desire that Ufros Aleinu Sukkat shalom/ over us will be spread a sukkah of peace.
This year may we fill our flimsy bodies and fleeting hours with feasting, friendship and fabulousness—and should the rains come, may we throw back our heads in laughter, delight and joy!