Harvest festivals are always fun, and Sukkot creates not just a time to celebrate, but a place. Sukkot is a place in time and time in place. The holiday of Sukkot helps us experience G-d’s kindness to the Jewish people while in the desert during the Exodus from Egypt and celebrates the Fall harvest. Sukkot is during the harvest moon. We get out of doors and take in the outdoors. We don’t just talk about this kindness and blessing – we experience it by eating, living and even sleeping in a Sukkah for seven days and by blessing the Four Species — aka Lulav & Etrog.
The mitzvah—call it a command, call it an obligation, call it a calling— of dwelling, eating and spending time in the Sukkah is unique. The mitzvah of Sukkah encompasses every part of the body. Every limb and cell of the person is completely involved, surrounded and encompassed by the Sukkah. But just standing there in a sukkah won’t let the sukkatmosphere seep in.
Put a carpet down. Some comfy chairs. A table, a lamp. Make sure to hang some nice posters. Wear warm cloths. Put board games in the Sukkah, and use an inflatable bed that can easily be moved in the daytime to make room for guests and dining. Put in a stereo. TV & DVD to watch Ushpizin. You can use curtains to make doors. Hang a nice light from IKEA. Hang decorative lighting you can buy at places like Target to add pazaaz. Hang gourds. Don’t hang fruit that will rot or attract insects. Make a redneck wind-chime out of beer cans. Light candles. Sit. Breath. Drink in the holiness of the sukkah.
Once isn’t enough of a good thing. We always want more. Eat live thrive in a Sukkah everyday. When having of a meal in the Sukkah, or a snack you can make the blessing: Blessed are you Hashem, our G-d, King of all worlds, who has sanctified us with your mitzvos, and willed us to dwell in the Sukkah. (My translation of the essence of the blessing: Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Leshev Basukkah.)
And of course, if you are anywhere within driving distance of Long Beach, please join us for our celebrations, and have yourself a very wonderful festival!