I don’t mean to offend all of those folks who hosted us with sturdy, wide, ultra-comfortable sukkah’s we ate in, but last night we had a meal in the only “real sukkah” of the first days of succos. It was one of those sukkah’s that was built in a way that only allowed minimal movement, you couldn’t cross your legs or lean back, if you needed to use the bathroom, everyone had to get up and stop their meal. In my former less mature life, I would have written a post decrying this sukkah, I would have called a protest against the uncomfortable sukkah, but out of all the sukkah’s I ate in, I felt that this was the one was the one that contained the most kedusha and it reminded me of the rickety sukkahs of my youth.
I recalled the sukkah of the building I grew up in, we had to carry all of the food down 8 flights of stairs and if you forgot anything you had to walk back up 8 flights of stairs (good thing we were modernishe enough to ask the doorman to push the button for us, we used to hide our heads in shame if any of the “frummer” neighbors would see us) Then, upon entering the sukkah you had to find a seat, sometimes all of the tables were taken and you had to stand there and wait for someone to finish. It was super awkward, kind of like waiting for people in a restaurant to finish, except in this case – these people were our neighbors that we never spoke to except for the occasional shabbos nod.
Our sukkah was built in the courtyard of our building which was mostly used for over sized garbage that couldn’t fit in the basement. It was also the best place to see the super sized water bugs that seemed to enjoy the kedusha of the center of the sukkah which ran downward to a water drain. Yep, the whole sukkah was on a tilt, which meant each table was off its center a bit and sent all sorts of things flying with the slightest of table bangs. There was an extreme awkwardness to the succos of my youth, yet for some reason I only recall happiness. Well, except when my father came face to face with an open out of the closet Jewish Liberal, then we hid our faces in shame of the impending battle of doom.
Succos in San Jose is like paradise, most of the homes here have these permanent overhangs in the backyard for hanging fruit trees and sun shades, just throw some schach up once and each year move it around while having succos in mind. Most of the sukkahs are up all year round. I never thought of these things until this year, this year I decided that there was something holy about a sukkah that didn’t fit into the surroundings. A rickety sukkah that sat on a porch, on which you could hear drunken sports fans rooting for their team in the next condo. A narrow sukkah in which the table had to be moved in so everyone could sit in a kosher sukkah.
(I should note that it rained today for the first time on succos in many years here, before Global Warming the first rain in San Jose was not usually until mid October)
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