There are many Jewish laws involved in building a sukkah. There are regulations pertaining to a sukkah’s height and where a sukkah is located. Rules about the durability of the sukkah and rules about how we use its space.
But most notable is the mishna that explains shade of a sukkah must be greater than the sunlight passing through. If the sunlight is more pronounced than a sukkah’s shade, the sukkah is deemed unfit.
Light is treasured. The feeling of the sun’s warmth on a chilly day. Sunrises and sunsets are often the most memorable and photographic scenes in nature. How is it that we are elevating shade over light?
Overtime, shade has lost its meaning and value. Imagine wandering through the relentlessness of the desert heat. Shade is life providing and life saving. In an environment where one isn’t protected from the elements, shade is essential.
And shade connotes God’s presence. There is a protective intimacy from the Holy One. As the Psalmist writes, “The one who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of God.” When we let God into our lives, we exhale, understanding that through life’s most torturous experiences, we might find rest in God’s embrace.
The sukkah is a metaphor for how we might find God in unyielding chaos. Imagine an embrace from a trusted family member or friend. An embrace that offers compassion, kindness, and love. A hug that allows one’s walls to crumble, knowing you are held and protected for at least the moments of embrace. God’s hands extend through ours.
A holiday where shade is cherished. A moment where God’s embrace settles our soul.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.