Sukkah Sagas

Friday, 24 September, 2021 - 2:12 pm

On Sukkot we are commanded to dwell in the Sukkah. Our sages comment, that it should be dwelling in a manner similar to how we are in our permanent home. This year, for many in the New Orleans area, our Sukkahs resemble our homes more than ever before thanks to the leaky roofs due Hurricane Ida.

I want to share two stories that I read this week on this topic, one whimsical and the other a story of determination.

Reb Boruch Mordechai was a chosid of the Alter Rebbe and the Rabbi of the town of Babroisk. Apparently the townspeople of Babroisk adhered to the time-honored tradition of under-paying their Rabbi. As such, he was always struggling to make ends meet. When Sukkot came, he asked his landlord to build a Sukkah outside his dwelling. The landlord did so and demanded immediate payment, stating that otherwise it would not be “a dwelling similar to a permanent home.” The Rabbi replied, “on the contrary, if I paid upfront it would be entirely dissimilar to my regular dwelling for which I am always late on the rent.”

The second story was recorded by Rebbetzin Chana, the Rebbe’s mother, in her diary where she recounted the extreme conditions under which she and he illustrious husband R’ Levi Yitzchak, lived during their forced exile deep in Kazakhstan. They rented a room from a Tatar woman in the village of Chili. When Sukkot approached, they began to construct an anteroom to their part of the house to use as a Sukkah. Ostensibly, the claimed that it was to create a buffer against the cold wind that would blow directly into their room. The landlady insisted that they add a roof to give the structure stability. This of course would invalidate the room from being used as a Sukkah. They argued that they could not afford this at present, and that it would get done before the winter set in. Such was their determination to fulfill the Mitzvah under very trying circumstances.

With Hashem’s blessings, we do not face such difficulties. True many of us are dealing with the fallout from the Hurricane, the pandemic and other life’s challenges. It is important for us to remember that Sukkot and Simchat Torah are the festivals of rejoicing. The joy on this holiday and with the Mitzvahs associated with it, are a vehicle for Hashem’s open and revealed blessings for all good things.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Sukkot
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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