Thirteen ways of looking at Yom Kippur
And there was evening and there was morning

'Twas the night before Sukkot...

There are four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. One of my favorite teachings about this is that we need four days -- one for each of the four worlds of body, heart, mind, and spirit -- in order to really process the new insights that Yom Kippur granted us. Yom Kippur, a day of connection with God, offers us the chance to download a new way of understanding the cosmos and our relationship with our Source; these four days are our chance to install that software on the hard drive of who we are.

This is all well and good, but I'm here today with an entirely different kind of quandary: what should I do about the floor of my sukkah, since the forecast here is for rain (sometimes quite heavy) through the end of the week?

Remember that the roof of a sukkah must be open to the stars, and the schach (roofing material) of which it is made must be organic. The interior of the sukkah can be minimalist (empty; a chair or two) to maximalist (Turkish rugs, floor pillows, tables and chairs and sofas, lighting fixtures, the works.)

This year I wanted our sukkah to be slightly spiffier than last. I dragged several old rugs out of our garage and laid them over the grass. I picked up some autumn garlands at the grocery store -- shiny tinsel ropes festooned with little leaves, in shades of copper and red -- and looped them around the room. I put the usual wee table and deck chairs inside. I took a break from my desk this afternoon to cut schach -- first a handful of sumac branches, and when those proved difficult to work with (too 3-D), a few armfuls of goldenrod to lace over the top of the roof.

And then I checked the weather forecast. Clouds growing tomorrow, and at sundown when Sukkot begins we're expecting heavy rains. Thursday there's a strong chance of storms. Thursday night, rain is likely. Friday and Friday night, more showers.

So much for my fantasies of spending mornings davening shacharit and bentsching lulav in the sukkah. (Not to mention eating meals in it -- the rabbis are quite clear that if it's raining, the mitzvah of dining/hanging out in the sukkah is nullified, because the whole idea is to enjoy the experience, not to suffer through it.)

But should I run out there tonight and remove the rugs I so lovingly put down this afternoon? On the one hand, maybe I should; there's no reason to get them drenched when we aren't likely to be able to enjoy the sukkah until the weekend. On the proverbial other hand, none of them is precious; at the end of the festival I was assuming I'd hang them on the railing of the deck to dry out anyway. If I put a tarp over the roof, that defeats the whole purpose of being open to the sky. (Of course, if I don't, the schach -- merely laid over the roofbeams, not affixed in any way -- is liable to blow away during the first rainstorm.)

Can anyone offer advice on this front? If you have a sukkah in a region where it rains at this season, what do you do?

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