Cloud of glory: a d'var Torah for chol ha-moed Sukkot
Operating Instructions (a poem sparked by Pirkei Avot)

Every life is a sukkah


Our sages have asked: what is a sukkah?

Some have said: it’s a remembrance of the tents we lived in during the exodus from Egypt. As we read in Torah, "You shall dwell in sukkot seven days, that your generations may know that the children of Israel dwelled in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt." When we sit in the sukkah, we remember the Exodus.

Others have said: it’s a reminder of the cloud of glory which traveled with us during the exodus from Egypt, the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. When we sit in the sukkah, we experience God's presence and God's glory.

Still others said: it’s a harvest house, a reminder of the temporary dwellings our ancestors used to build in their fields during harvest time. When we sit in the sukkah, we remember our agricultural roots, and feel gratitude for the harvest.

And still others have said: a sukkah is temporary, beautiful, vulnerable, a place for welcoming guests and connecting with people (both those who are in our lives, and those ancestors whom we remember with love) — it is an embodied metaphor for a human life.

Like a sukkah, each life is temporary. Each life is beautiful. Each life is vulnerable. Each life is enriched by the presence of our loved ones, both living and imagined. Into every life a little rain must fall, but when we sit in the sukkah, we have the opportunity to greet even that rain with joy.

Adapted from a teaching originally posted to my From the Rabbi blog.