The holiday of Sukkot—originally simply the fall harvest festival; later overlaid with references to the Exodus—becomes, when all is said and done, a meditation on impermanence. The fragile booth becomes our home (at least in which to take our meals, for many of us in which to sleep) for eight days.
Looking up through the leafy branches arrayed as a roof, we see the full moon (the first night of the holiday always falls on a full moon), a joyful sight (and the booth smells so nice!) and yet a reminder of the impermanence of the “booths” (bodies) in which we live our lives.
Last week the 2011 edition of the now almost-century-old annual anthology “The Best American Short Stories” was published, and included in this year’s collection is Gurov in Manhattan by my brother-in-law, the novelist and short story writer Ehud Havazelet. The story is not about Sukkot, not about Meditation. But it’s one of the best reflections on the inevitable impermanence of life I’ve ever read. (You can read the original version of the story online.)
A core practice of meditation is simply observing changes: changes in weather, in mood, in location, in sensation. May we all take the time to notice the changes around us at this time of the change of seasons, and take that awareness into the coming year with us, as winter makes the changes perhaps more difficult to discern.
Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Pleasantville Community Synagogue (Joyful Judaism!) an inclusive progressive synagogue–with members from twenty towns, villages and cities all across Westchester. Read The New York Times article. Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 am is open to the public. Everyone is welcome and warmly invited. Everyone is welcome and warmly invited. For information on his upcoming Wednesday morning class write Nina Luban at firstname.lastname@example.org.