Ki Yachol Nuchal!

New olah; mom and wife. In small ways, every day, trying to rectify the error in judgement of my zaydies, the meraglim. "See these big grapes? We can make really big wine!"

Archive for the ‘Sukkot’ Category

Sukkot 5769: After-Action Report

Posted by rutimizrachi on 21/10/2008

Yom revi’i, 23 Tishrei 5769, Isru Chag.

At the end of the holiday of Sukkot, there is a ceremony to “say farewell” to the Sukkah, our home for the last seven days.

The Dearly Beloved and I sat in the waning light, watching the sunset weaving pink and blue threads through the black plastic burlap of our western sukkah wall.

“What was your favorite moment in our first sukkah in Israel?” he asked.

I didn’t even have to think. “It was an off-hand remark you made. I was reminding you of the time, that it was almost Shachrit. You said not to worry, that you wouldn’t miss davening. That there is a Torah reading every day during Sukkot, and that you hadn’t missed a Torah reading since you made a deal with G-d. I asked you what the deal was. Your reply touched my heart. ‘I asked Hashem to please get rid of the Cellulitis. I said I would use my legs to get me to shul to touch His holy Torah, every time it was out.’ I was so moved by the simple faith of that bargain.”

While it is not recommended that we make deals with G-d, I know that The Dearly Beloved will keep his end of his bargain, even if Hashem decides at some point that he can serve Him best by struggling with another bout of Cellulitis. But get this: between 2002 and 2004, my husband had increasing attacks of Cellulitis in his legs. It really appeared that this was going to be our “new normal.” In 2004, he had to cancel a trip to Israel with me, his first trip to Israel since 1991. His doctor said that the risk of DVT was very great, and that it could kill him if he flew. He was very disappointed; and I had so hoped this trip would finally convince him that it was time to make aliyah. Apparently, he made this deal with Hashem, unbeknownst to me, over this event. In 2005, he was able to take the family trip that caused all of us to decide to move to Israel. He flew with me again the following year for our pilot trip; and in 2007, we finally came Home. (And, he hasn’t had Cellulitis since, bli ayin hara.)

I realized, sitting in the sukkah this year, that it may have been my husband’s simple act of turning his health over to Hashem that caused Hashem to finally say yes to our aliyah.

“What was your favorite moment?” I asked him, in return.

“There were two. Working with my son on building it. And the melave malka, when our neighbors came by and played music with us.”

I remembered that my favorite moment at another friend’s sukkah actually took place as she walked us to our car afterward. She had invited us to speak and play music before a large group of her students. At the end of her event, she asked everyone to share a moment of silent contemplation, to lock in the sukkah experience. Some sat with eyes closed. Others studied the walls and decorations. As we were leaving, she and I shared that we two had been looking intently at each face… because to us, “the sukkah” was not the walls and decorations, nor even the schach, but the people. These were the true “walls of the sukkah.”

The Dearly Beloved and I reminisced for several more minutes, and realized that all of our special moments were about people. Then he gave me a short d’var Torah. “We have to be careful not to get too focused on the structure of the mishkan or the Temple or the shul. Hashem said ‘Build me a mishkan so that I may dwell in them.’ He didn’t say ‘it.’ Our sages learn from this that He wanted to dwell inside of each of us, and inside of the collective Jewish people. The structure helps us to focus, but it is the achdut, the unity, that is critical to Hashem’s plan.”

Master of the Universe…may there always be upon us a heavenly protection from Your holy abode, to save us from all sin and iniquity, from evil occurences, from malevolent periods that are stirring to come upon the world.” ( — from the “Farewell to the Sukkah” service on Shemini Atzeret)


May we Jews together create the achdut to merit that protection.

Posted in achdut, Shemini Atzeret, sukkah, Sukkot | 5 Comments »

Sukkot. Dateline, Israel: 5769.

Posted by rutimizrachi on 20/10/2008

Yom rishon, 20 Tishrei 5769.

Isn’t it lovely?

Our first sukkah in Eretz Yisrael! I am so proud of it. The sukkah has always been my favorite home, because it is built with love, ingenuity, and creativity by my husband and sons. And because it seems to become imbued with something special and holy. And because it is not belabored by all the flotsom and jetsom of “too-muchness”… It’s hard to explain. But if you have had the experience, you know the feeling. Is it the simplicity of it? The closeness? The family project? Or do the ushpezin, the holy guests, actually add some spiritual dimension that brings us closer to our Father in Shomayim? We are too small to comprehend it… but Hashem blesses us by letting us experience it.

I am always delighted by the way The Dearly Beloved accepts the suggestions and efforts of his sons. And he gets back as good as he gives. I overheard The Stunt Man telling one of his friends: “My Abba is a genius. Did you see that shower curtain? What an idea!” (Mental note, filed under “Keeping the Chagim Special for the Kids”: Remember a shower curtain for next year’s sukkah.)

The engineering to keep this sukkah upright for the whole chag is trickier than in Baltimore. The winds of Neve Daniel have been measured at at least as strong as 120 kph (sustained) with gusts as high as 185.5. That can really mess with your sukkah! So the guys came up with clever methods for keeping the schach attached to the top of the sukkah, and the walls attached to the frame.

This partial spiderweb design really impressed me. Especially since father and son each contributed ideas to the design, and praised each other’s suggestions. These are the very sweet pearls we hope to cull from the bumpy, ugly oysters of the teenage years. They remind us that after parents and children finish the requisite head-butting, there can be a wonderful relationship of mutual respect.

I was in a sukkah this evening, playing music and sharing seemingly vast quantities of food, all in honor of the Simchat Beit HaShoeva. A very gifted teacher we know was sharing her sukkah with her (finding-themselves-Jewishly) students and with us. She opened up a question-and-answer period, wherein she bravely offered her students the opportunity to ask any questions they wished. One of the questions gave her the opportunity to share with her students why she had chosen this particular (religious) path in life. B’kitzur, she — a non-religious 17-year-old Jewess — spent Shabbat with a frum family. She was fascinated by the way the family interacted at the table, as if the Shabbat were the hub of a wheel, and they were its spokes. (In her very lovely secular family, the dinner conversations were isolated islands: her parents talked of the day’s events, and of their worries; the kids talked of events in school, and other kids they mutually knew; the parents and kids talked of grades and individual issues…) In this frum family, it seemed there were two common themes — the parsha hashevua, and the holy Shabbat — and everyone contributed to the main concepts; and they sang, and told stories, all in support of the main theme of this Shabbat, and all interacting with each other.

She decided then and there that she would one day raise a “connected” Jewish family.

When my husband and son, very normal in the scheme of fathers-and-teenage-sons, have a meeting of the minds over the sukkah — I feel like that woman. I know that, after all is said and done, they will have a deep respect for one another, born of this exercise of working out the sukkah together. Even as I enjoy these days, with all of their quite normal strife, I am heartened. I know that one day, these two men will be friends, who deeply respect one another.

This is the beautiful subtlety of Judaism.

And then, after all the work, comes beautiful, well-earned play, celebration… the precious celebration of Jewish talent and Jewish desire to please the Creator.

One of my favorite moments in the liturgy comes at Modim d’Rabbanin:

“We thank You for inspiring us to thank You.”

What can I say? “Hodu Lashem, ki Tov, ki Le’Olam Chasdo…”

Posted in Israel, Simchat beit Hashoeva, Sukkos, Sukkot | 7 Comments »

You may be a settler if…

Posted by rutimizrachi on 05/10/2008

Yom rishon, 6 Tishrei 5769.

Recently, Yisrael Medad posted (or reposted) an entertaining diversion which I enjoyed very much. My guys, being in touch with their “You may be a redneck” selves, got quite the kick out of it. I understand it now; and I know I wouldn’t have gotten most of the jokes last year. Go ahead. Test yourself. I’ll wait…

#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*

As Sukkot approaches, as with other yomim tovim, I am enjoying the uniquely Israeli (and sometimes uniquely over-the-Green-Line) ways of doing things. As we know, as Rosh Hashana approaches, a Jewish man’s fancy turns to sukkah building.

The Dearly Beloved has been eyeing a piece of wood near the “Box Shul” for several days. “Hmmmm,” he said to me this morning, “if that piece of wood is still there after davening, it would look right nice as a wall panel for this here sukkah.” (It is interesting that The Dearly Beloved, who grew up in the midwest, sounds like he grew up in Hapeville, Georgia, at moments like this.)

Noticing he was empty-handed when he returned from shul, I casually asked, “Nu? What happened with the sukkah panel?”

“The early davener gets the wood,” he answered glumly.

I felt very bad for him, especially since this loss came on the heels of last week’s near international incident. He had spotted a clearly ownerless panel, and began to make off with it.
Apparently, the Arab builders felt they had previous dibs on the wood. “I can’t believe they use this kind of poor-quality junk for building our houses,” he snorted at me. “Why, I wouldn’t even use stuff like that for a sukkah.” I thought it politic to move on to other topics.

Happily, The Dearly Beloved is not easily daunted in his mission. “You know… that rusted metal door has been there for a while. If it’s still there tomorrow…”

You may be a settler if any piece of wood, metal, fabric or plastic looks mighty interesting, come sukkah-building season.

Posted in settler, sukkah, Sukkos, Sukkot | 7 Comments »