20 Tishri 5777 – Sukkot

On Sukkoth we leave our secure homes and dwell, literally, in a fragile and rickety hut.

Sounds crazy ey?

Yes there is deep meaning and significance behind every action and custom in Judaism. Allow me to illustrate through an incident that happened on Thursday morning this week.

Some of you may know that Chana Raizel is completing her studies in interior design. Well, this morning after I returned home from Shul, she told me that she had to be in the city at 9am as her class was receiving a special assignment. There wasn’t much time to go and I suggested that instead of driving and worrying about parking, I order an Uber to pick her up from our home.

The Uber arrived and departed our home. About ten metres down the road however, the car came to a halt before reversing back up the street and dropping Chana back home. I was startled. What happened?

Chana told me that she just received a message from a classmate notifying her that the lesson was actually scheduled for the following Thursday, we had the wrong date!

I apologised to the poor Uber driver for the lack of what would have been a good fare and bid him well. He told me not to worry and then wished me….. “Chag Sameach!”

“What?” I replied! “You are Jewish??”

“Yes”, he replied and asked if he could shake the Lulav and Etrog.

I ran back inside and retrieved my pair and then shook with him. I invited him to join us in Shul over the weekend and bid him farewell.

Chana turned to me and said: “You see, everything happens for a reason. I miscalculated my assignment date all so that this gentleman could shake the Lulav!”

This whole incident made me think about the occurrences that we all face during our lives. No one really knows when they awaken each morning how their day will turn out. You can only plan so much in life, but often life deals us back something quite different. The man in my above story would have thought he was going to get a great fare and instead he got an authentic Jewish experience! In life, you never really know what will happen. All we can hang on to is our faith that everything will go well.

And this is exactly why we sit in a Sukkah each year following the intense days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. You see, over those days we have spent much time indoors – in an enclosed spiritual centre – expressing our faith and commitment to G-d. But there comes a time when we must take our stated beliefs and commitments and bring them into the realities of the real world. Will we still believe in G-d when the walls of our lives begin to shake? Will we still recite: “Ein Lanu Melech Ela Atta” (“There is no other king besides you” – Avinu Malkenu prayer) when the rain seeps into our lives and dampens our expectations or ambitions. What if things don’t work out as we would have wished.. will we still believe in the invisible ear that is all-listening and the unseen hand that is forever at play?

As we sit in our Sukkoth this year, may we gain strength in knowing that Hashem is looking out for all of us and G-d willing, planning for us – and our families – a year filled with every blessing.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman

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