A Moment of Torah with Rabbi Neil Sandler

Sukkot 5783

By Rabbi Neil Sandler

Where have all the years gone? This Sunday, our eldest child, Ariel, will celebrate his 37th birthday! I can still remember exactly what I said to Susan's Ob/Gyn doctor in the delivery room as he was bringing Ariel into this world. "Murray," I said, "you are looking at Ariel David Sandler." That was the first time I uttered our firstborn's name aloud to anyone other than Susan. It's as if I was saying, "This child thing is real. This little pitzele will, God-willing, represent a Hart/Sandler future long after his grandparents and parents are gone." Eventually, Ariel would have two siblings, Aliza and Josh. Collectively, these three children symbolized our approach to the world and its future; the world, despite its challenges, is a good and worthy place. Hopefully, our children will contribute to its goodness. I think about that statement each time one of our children (and now I can add their spouses) celebrates a birthday.

This year Ariel's birthday coincides with the beginning of Sukkot. The seriousness and heaviness of Yom Kippur are behind us. As long as the weather cooperates for the next week plus, we will have the opportunity to relax in the sukkah, enjoy a meal there and welcome our friends inside this quaint, temporary dwelling. We will also be making a statement about our feelings regarding the future. Sukkot often do not have four sides (they only need to have two and a half sides to be deemed "Kosher.") As we look straight ahead from inside the sukkah and peer out at the world, we remind ourselves of the responsibilities we have to it. We must protect the world's resources so that others will be able to enjoy its bounties. We must share ourselves and our resources with people who are in need to best assure their futures. As we look up through the roof ("schach") of the sukkah and see the heavens, we are reminded of the words we offer each evening, ("[God,] Spread over us Your sukkah of peace…") Yes, the Holy One plays a part in assuring our peace, but we play an even larger role in guaranteeing that peace for ourselves and succeeding generations.

A child's birthday. A family's sukkah. While we may understand the significance of them in a variety of ways, each represents a glorious statement about the future and our role in assuring it.

Chag Sameach! Enjoy Sukkot and some relaxed time in a sukkah!