Sukkot is one of my favourite festivals since my childhood in Israel, its the holiday of the open tent. We marry under a chuppah that is open on all sides to remind us of the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim ( welcoming our guests).We are encouraged to open our door to a stranger, but my question to you is how easy is it to actually open your heart to another person, a stranger perhaps, or how difficult would it be to open your mind to a foreign idea?
Our patriarch Abraham and our Matriarch Sarah show us amazing example of hospitality when they welcome the three angels to their house (with out knowing who they are). It explores the exoteric idea, I would like to explore the esoteric idea behind the story. If we are to grow in life/ in this world, if one gives this principal some thought, we would soon realise that in order for us to progress (and after all we are progressive Jews) we will need to open ourselves up, in order for this to take place. One can look to God or nature if you prefer, to find answers – just observe how flowers open themselves up to sunlight – and if they did not, if they refused to open themselves up, what would become of such flowers?
When new or strange ideas are put to humanity, humanity usually, more often then not reacts with inhumanity to such strange thoughts. Today is also a mini celebration for me, as we celebrate being a “progressive Jews,” this because we as a community have the right, and are actually encouraged to “think” about things, things that may well be strange at first. But if our hearts and minds are sufficiently open to such strange or simply new ideas, then we have a very real opportunity for growth – with a new idea or understanding of things, we can very well end up seeing things from a different, or higher perspective, then the one we are used to.
Perhaps we see that someone close or indeed a stranger did something that really annoyed us, but when we opened ourselves up, even for just a little while to another possibility, we may well understand that they only did so out of genuine care or concern for us – for our wellbeing. If we do not open our hearts and minds up to new or strange ideas (and here I do not suggest that we simply or blindly accept such ideas) but only that we open ourselves up long enough to give a moments genuine consideration to them. Perhaps then with God’s blessings we will be opening ourselves up, just like the flowers, long enough to let in the light. I am only suggesting that we be open, that our hearts and minds are not closed on all sides, that just like our Sukkas, our hearts and minds are open to a possibility, a higher possibility, no matter how strange such a possibility may seem or appear to us at first sight.
From the example of our Matriarch and Patriarch lets us strive to be better hosts, and me mindful to keep our tent doors open whether those doors are the doors of our home or the doors of our congregation. May we all be rewarded by God with many blessings for making the stranger feel at home among us.
As we dwell
the next seven nights
underneath the harvest/blood moon
in our fragile sukkot,
it seems to me
that to make this chag–
this festival of joyous abundance–
real and alive
we must live as we built our sukkot:
strong enough to let the wind through,
open enough to see the stars,
wide enough to let lots of love inside,
powerful enough to let go of the stuff we don’t really need,
insightful enough to realize most of the stuff we collect,
is, in fact, unnecessary,
and bold enough to stand resolute in the face of the unknown.
learning to live
and to love
and to be bold
May this be a festival of joy,
a new beginning
of hope overflowing with abundance. (Author is uknown)
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Julia Margolis