What is the main message of Succot? Achdus, our dependency on the Abishter's mercy - our need to strive and do our part in this world? To fulfil the mission for which we were sent to this existence, what do we need to do? Should we pray for an easy ride in this life?
Lots of questions with many answers to each question. Apart from the niggunim being so beautifully sung by the two young women who led us in song, these were some of the topics of conversation in a succa whose walls were resplendent with green ivy and jasmine flowers, a table laden with delicious treats that led astray even those avowed food aesthetics bursting from days of Yom Tov feasting and a group of women intoxicated with the kedusha of the days of Awe. Stories were exchanged, even different versions of the same Hasidic tale about a man who saves kopeks over months and months to buy the most beautiful estrog to fulfil the mitzvah of the lulav and the four kinds. I always liked the version where the wife is searching through the cupboards looking for food for their many children over the chaggim when she comes across the estrog her husband had secreted in the bottom corner of the cupboard. She realises where he has spent money on fulfilling a mitzvah (and as one of the more perceptive and practical of women present pointed out) while ignoring a primary mitzvah which is to support one's wife and family and ensure that their basic needs are met in the way of food, shelter and clothing. Overcome with rage, she confronts him with the estrog and in front of him, she bites the pitom of the estrog off making it possul or not kosher and therefore he is unable to fulfil the mitvah. There are many versions, but I like that one the best.
The hubby learns to control his temper and I would imagine, ultimately realise his wife was in the right. Thus so he should control his anger and next year he would either use the communal lulav or buy a cheaper estrog and ensure his wife and kinderlach have food for the chaggim.
A easy life is what some want, but really is it such a good thing to have nothing in our lives to challenge us? Should we not bless our Master for the goodness and mercy we are shown in every way? More on that later. It is a topic worthy of its own post.
Personally I have no envy for those who live a life of relative luxury and supposed ease. My late father once summed up his life just before he died of cancer.
"I am very lucky" he told me."most people have to work for a living. My hobby is my livelihood." He was a grazier and worked seven days a week (that I do not recommend. Anyway I keep Shabbat.) from early morning 5am was a normal breakfast time to finish at sundown. Fixing fences, mustering stock, drenching and shearing them, marking and branding them plus many other things, dependent on the weather and market prices. He worked hard all his life and things were not always easy. Yet he was content. Money does not bring a life of ease in many cases more problems are created. One should daven for elegant sufficiency and the means to be useful and valued in a community and in life.
In the Succa of life all is a fragile shell that is so easy to break if we do not take care of things.
A gut yore.