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ב"ה

Condemned!

Wednesday, 8 October, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Memories… Sukkot conjures up some very special ones.

As a child of 6, my family moved to suburban West Hartford, CT--a small and quiet town. Abba, a no-nonsense practical guy, decided to build a sturdy Sukkah, strong enough to withstand the Nor’easters that tend to start up this time of year. OSB panels on 2”x 4”, our sukkah wasn’t going anywhere. Not even Hurricane Gloria in 1986 could move Abba’s Sukkah.

First month in our new house, our Sukkah stood proudly in our driveway, right alongside our kitchen. Erev (the day before) Sukkot, we arrived home to discover huge orange placards stapled all over our sukkah, screaming out in huge letters:

STOP WORK ORDER. THIS BUILDING IS CONDEMNED By the order of the West Hartford Building Department.  

A (Jewish) neighbor, offended by the temerity and chutzpa of a Sukkah invasion into Suburbia, complained to the city, and a stop-work order was placed. A hearing was set on the intermediate days of the holiday.

The resolution – a classic. We were given 7 days to take it down!

While the story has a humorous ending…the story didn’t end there. The orange ink ran in the rain and the walls were permanently stained—a permanent reminder of the story.   

Our sages tell us that Sukkot is a lesson on the fact that while we attempt to build ourselves Ivory Towers -- once a year we do something a little… MESHUGA--a little crazy. When the weather is starting to turn cold and nippy, we hit the outdoors in our flimsy shade structure.

A week out in the elements teaches us that the roof that truly protects us is G-d’s loving embrace. The sukkah reminds us to have faith, but the orange stains on the Sukkah of my childhood – had a further lesson. 

To me, those bold orange blotches were a permanent lesson in Jewish Pride, and for the need, at times, for a little chutzpa. When needed, divine (and civic) justice will rule in your favor--and forever provide a good chuckle.

Chag Sameach!

Rabbi Yisroel Hecht

 

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