Seven weeks ago, we moved from our first owned home, in Houston, to a one-year lease on a rental in Chevy Chase. When you move from one city to another, you bring more than personal belongings. You also carry the weight of transition, uprootedness, and fragility. This year, we are both settled into our new home and unsettled knowing it is not permanent.
As we begin to ease into our new life, Jewish tradition now claims that we must “move out” of our house once again and into an even more temporary structure, a sukkah. I sometimes feel like this year we should “get a pass” on a holiday that reminds us about life’s temporary and fragile nature. But, in Jewish tradition, Sukkot is referred to as “z’man simchateinu” or “time of our joy” and I am reminded that the holiday is meant to spark happiness, not stress.
Sukkot brings us back to the experience of the Israelites as they lived in temporary structures, in the middle of an unknown and scary wilderness. We are reminded that their anxiety was only temporary as God led them toward a new land filled with promise and stability. This year, I am excited to step onto my new (yet temporary) patio and into our sukkah, a reminder that stress and transition are not permanent. We, like the Israelites, we are moving forward toward a new future with God’s presence helping us to navigate the way. May we all be blessed to feel the sheltering comfort of the Divine this Sukkot.
Rabbi Jill Levy