SO tonight, continuing on in the marathon holiday season, is sukkot. Wooo. Sukkot is usually translated into english as the "festival of booths" or something like that, which I think sounds a little ridiculous. When I hear the word booth I think of those things you sit in at a restaurant that are wayyy superior to the tables and chairs.
Anyways during sukkot you build a sukkah, and it is a mitzvah to sit in it and eat in it and sleep in it. What is a sukkah? It is a temporary structure that needs to have 3 (well actually 2.5 walls, a roof that allows more shade than sun, but you still need to see the starts through it, and the roof is covered with schach, here that means leaves from a palm tree mostly). Unfortunately this year I do not have a sukkah because 1. our mirpeset (porch) is covered and we can't build a sukkah on it because you need to be able to see the stars from the roof of the sukkah. 2. I didn't want to buy a sukkah to have for just a few days this year.
The great thing about Israel is there are sukkot (plural of sukkah) EVERYWHERE. It's awesome, this is what I love about having a Jewish country. Many restaurants have built sukkot and put their outdoor seating underneath the sukkah so you can fulfill the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah even while at a restaurant. How cool is that?!? I think it's cool.
I have also been playing "spot the sukkah" from my balcony. There are A LOT of them on the mirpesets or on the roof. There is even one in the park by my apt, I wonder who that one belongs to...
HUC also has a sukkah, so I will be having a few meals there tonight and tomorrow.
I really love sukkot. It is one of my favorite holidays, my top one is passover and I also like purim, but sukkot is def up there. Now that I think about it I really like the majority of the Jewish holidays, but regardless, sukkot is awesome! Sukkot is a holiday where you are commanded to be happy, we are commanded 3 times in the torah (in deuteronomy 16:14, 16:25 and Leviticus 23:10)!! In the Torah it is referred to as "zman simchatenu" the time of our happiness. It's all about chilling in the sukkah with friends and family and guests, celebrating the harvest/being thankful for what you have, shaking the lulav and etrog (which looks awkwardly like certain reproductive organs), and just having fun/being happy.
In the talmud in masechet sukkah 109a there is a funny discussion about how to fulfill the mitzvah of being happy (translation and explanation to follow):
hahahaha. Men are made happy by wine and women by new clothes... not sure how I feel about the gender stereotyping going on here. I do love new clothes but wine is fun too. I'm pretty sure it goes on to say that kids are made happy by almonds and nuts, but I mean when I was a kid I hated nuts, so clearly the rabbis were not spending enough time with their kiddies.
I just really like this passage because I think it is funny, but it's also cool. We are being told we need to be happy and this is how you do it. I'm sure you could derive some sociological lesson from this also...
Anyways this post is getting long and I have to go finish cooking/prepping for the holiday.