“A Sukkah for Sukkot”
By Seth Glass, Administrative Assistant at AJRCA
“U’fros alenu sukkat shlomecha. Baruch atah Ad-nai, hapores sukkat shalom alenu v’al kol amo Yisrael v’al Yerushalayim.” (Friday night Maariv Siddur)
One might not notice the fact that every Shabbes we invoke Hashem to protect us with His Sukkah of Peace. We greet each other with “Shabbat Shalom” Shabbes peace to you. Shabbes is peace and apparently the sukkah is peace. Why? Because the Sukkah protects us not only physically but also spiritually. The Rabbis teach us that in the wilderness we were protected by the “Ananei Hakavod” – the Clouds of Glory. These were a synthesis of the spiritual and the physical. Our Sukkahs which we build outside on the Chag are permeable – they protect, yet they also allow the elements to get through and affect us. The clouds on the other hand, were impenetrable – no desert heat, no enemies’ arrows, no snakes or scorpions were allowed through this membrane.
Now we are coming to Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot. And we will say the Shabbes invocation to be protected by the Sukkah of Peace. Us, all Israel, and Jerusalem. So in a way, the Sukkah we sit in is on an even higher level and affords us a greater measure of protection which resultantly gives us a deeper dimension of peace, which also means wholeness in Hebrew. Shabbat implies restfulness, so Shabbes not only gives us more peace, but Shabbes also gives the Sukkah – the Ananei Hakavod – a place to rest above us and around us. And why do we pray for the “Sukkat Shlomecha” for us, all Israel and Yerushalayim? Because Sukkot is about welcoming everyone into the Sukkah. It is about sharing G-d’s bounty with our friends, with strangers, and also with people we would not ordinarily invite into our home. So it is an ingathering of all humanity as well as of nature’s blessing of the harvest.
So in a nutshell, Hashem blessed us to be family and friends with each other therefore each one of us is a gift. And tonight on Shabbes Chol Hamoed Sukkot we have the Sukkah, the Clouds of Glory around us, and we have the Shabbes Sukkah of Peace around us. Each one of us a special gift – double wrapped!