Sukot – Being Fully There

By: Rabbi Mendy Wolf


Have you ever spoken to someone for a while and suddenly, the guy says, “I missed that. What were you saying?”

Have you tried carrying on a conversation with a friend while she was texting someone else?

Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task. We do seven things at once and consider ourselves super-achievers. But the truth is, multi-tasking means dividing our attention amongst several concerns, each receiving a fraction. We may, technically, be working at many things, but we are doing nothing. We are not focused on any single task.

Can you imagine a surgeon sending a text while operating on a patient? Can you picture an employee checking his email on a Blackberry while talking to his boss? I don’t know about anyone else, but I would not dare trust such a doctor with my life, and that worker would be fired on the spot. Doing multiple things at once is rude and irresponsible at best, and dangerous at worst.

Sukkot is a holiday that does not allow us to fall into the trap of being “half-there”. Whereas other Mitzvot require the involvement of certain parts of us – our brain, feet or hands, for instance – the Sukkah envelops our entire being. We don’t just “do” the Sukkah the way we “do” countless other things; we are in the Sukkah – fully, completely there, with every part of our body.

The great sage Rabbi Akiva told a parable about a fox who tried to coerce some fish to join him on the riverbank. “Come,” he called slyly, “I will save you from the fishermen’s nets!” The fish refused his most generous offer, explaining that by leaving the water, they would be exchanging possible danger for certain death. Water, after all, was their source of life.

So too, taught Rabbi Akiva, a Jew needs to be fully immersed in his life-source, the Torah. Judaism is not a hobby, part-time occupation, nor even a lifestyle. For a Jew, it is life – complete, total, and all-encompassing.

Sitting in the Sukkah signifies our renewed commitment to G-d and to Judaism. Completely surrounded by the four walls, covered by the Schach and a starlit sky, we are connected with our true selves. With all distractions kept away, we are given the opportunity to truly focus on what matters.

So this Sukkot, as you sit in that traditional hut, relish the moment! Don’t let the holidays pass you by as “just another thing I did this week”. And as you capture the unique Sukkot experience, resolve to bring it along with you for a little bit of every day. Let every day have a “Sukkah” moment, a time of real focus on our Jewish identity!

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