Modern life can keep us isolated from reality. Our homes are well lit, temperature controlled, sound proofed and sealed off from our environment. We never sweat or shiver. We sleep soundly through the greatest of storms. We neither feel nor hear the wind or rain.
Unfortunately, this perpetual state of comfort has its downside: We have lost the ability to deal with inconvenience. We have grown to think that by flicking a switch or turning a knob, we have control over all. We have developed a collective state of egocentrism.
The Jewish experience has the remedy for this malady. It is the perfect antidote to the expectation of total mastery and the expectation of entitlement. It is the commandment to “dwell” in the sukkah.
The sukkah, of course, is the temporary thatched hut that is built for the week of the holiday of Sukkot. It commemorates the transient quarters our forefathers built, broke down and put up again as they traveled in the desert from Egypt to the promised land.
The sukkah is a lovely and enjoyable tradition. However, it is a real experience, not a Disneyesque event. We feel the heat or cold. Rain drips through the thatched roof. Bees buzz. We cannot feel we are set apart from nature or have command over what will occur.
The Sukkot holiday, with its many beautiful customs, can also serve as an ultimate reality check.
Many outdoorsmen feel they gain insights into nature and bond with their Creator by camping out or sleeping in tents. The Jewish nation discovered this tool more than 2,000 years ago.
About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.
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