Last night congregants invited us over to dine in their beautiful sukkah. The food was delicious, company was great and our children enjoyed playing together. But the best part of the evening was when our host gathered his daughters onto his lap, each of us following suit with a child in our arms and proceeded to tell us a story.
He explained that a few “Sukkots” ago, by chance he found himself alone in his sukkah, clearing up from the family dinner that occurred a few hours prior. And so he took the few minutes of quiet, sat down in a chair and dusted off a blue folder he had almost glanced over. The blue folder was his grandfather’s, a man who collected “Jewish tidbits” of knowledge in order to add something extra to the Sukkot dinner or Passover seder. And within that folder was a family poem about Sukkot that was originally written and read to the congregant’s mother and aunt.
You can imagine what happens to children when the sun is setting and the seven o’ clock hour is nearing. But our congregant insisted that our kids hear this poem. And each one of them sat, mesmerized by his knack at story-telling. The adults were captivated as well, but for different reasons. We could imagine this same scene replicated so many years prior, same poem, different sukkah, but ritual and meaning passed down from one generation to the next. We could also imagine his daughters with God-willing, their own children sitting on their laps, reading the same poem, whispering in the twilight.
It was magical. And due to the chaos of children’s schedules, we almost missed the moment. Our congregant reminded us to slow down and for just a minute, let his grandfather’s spirit enter the sukkah.
We don’t have to miss the moment even when life seems to get in the way of everything else.
Dust off the recipe card that includes your grandmother’s favorites for Shabbat. Teach your children the ways she would cook and add her special ingredients. Use your mother or father’s Kiddush cup or Haggadah during Passover. Find and use a loved one’s Channukiah, prayer book, candlesticks or shofar. Bring our beloveds back to life by breathing soul into something they cherished, something they would hope is passed on to the next generation.
What a worthwhile moment we can experience when we just take a little time.