Sukkot gets a bad rap. It’s tough because it comes right after the High Holies of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, so people get sick of the physical aspects of the season, eating feasts and lying low.
But Sukkot has so much to it; the holiday is part of the Shalosh Regalim (three pilgrimage festivals). While it may not be as easy to identify with the spirituality of this holiday as it is for the other two, Pessach and Shavuot, as well as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Sukkot does have this amazing ability to stimulate all five senses – the power to bring holiness to your physical being.
This is especially true here in Jerusalem. It might be why I appreciate it so much, now more than ever.
Sound: As soon as Yom Kippur goes out and the fast has been broken, you can hear the banging from down the block. This year is the first year I’m spending Sukkot in my neighborhood of Katamonim, and to hear all the noise coming from my neighbors was, for once, a proud thing for me. Nothing is more pleasant than hammers against nails and wood on Motzei Yom Kippur.
Sight: Then, to wake up the next day and see all the sukkot started the night before – and to watch families decorate them – is a powerful thing.
Taste: At each meal over Sukkot, we are still dipping our challot in honey, carrying the sweetness of the new year to the end of the holiday period. By now, the honey has become normal on the taste buds, and hopefully it will stay that way for the rest of the year.
Touch: I love the way the lulav feels against my finger tips… It has this magic of being soft and inviting and sharp and distant all at once. It is how I imagine God on Yom Kippur, and it’s nice to have some linkage between the holidays.
Smell: There is nothing in this world, created by God or not, that smells better than the first etrog you put to your nose around September.
Chag sameach everyone!