We walked out to our sukkah by the light of the full moon, along the spiralling path that Ethan mowed through the wildflower meadow. Six of us sat outside for maybe an hour, marveling at the shadows our hands and wineglasses cast in moonlight, enjoying the opportunity to fulfil the mitzvah of hospitality in our sukkah this year.
Our conversation ranged from laser physics to Jon Stewart, congressional politics to Emily Dickinson, to the halakha of Sukkah-building (I explained my theory about our sukkah's unorthodox shape) and a variety of truly groan-worthy Sukkot puns. (I flirted, briefly, with titling this blog post "I'm Gonna Git You Sukkah"...)
There's a yin-yang to Sukkot which suits me really well. On the one hand, my contemplative side lights up in the mornings when I take my lulav and etrog out to the sukkah, beckon blessing from all six directions, and meditate on the morning service. And on the other hand, my sociable side grooves on inviting friends over to sit in the sukkah come evening-time, trading puns and pop culture references and festival factoids.
Sukkot turns our sense of place temporarily inside-out. Inviting people over is a mitzvah at this season -- in order to sit in a little house that's not a home, open to the elements, where we wave fruits and branches to invite the omnidirectional presence of blessing. We "live" for a week in the great outdoors, demarcated by flimsy walls and a patchy roof that allow moonbeams and starlight through.
This morning, davening a brief shacharit in the sukkah, I was struck anew by "Mah Tovu" ("How goodly are your tents, Jacob / Your dwelling-places, Israel.") My favorite interpretation points out that Jacob and Israel were the same man, and that the wonder lies in his (our) ability to transform our ohalot (physical tents) into mishkanot (dwelling-places for the Shekhinah, God's immanent presence in the world.)
Sitting in my sukkah -- as I am doing now, as I draft and publish this blog post! wireless internet is so cool -- I want to rededicate myself to the work of turning all of my physical structures into homes for holiness, be they "indoors" or "out."