Sunday night, September 27th, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot began. During the week-long holiday, Jews build a special kind of home to dwell in for the week, called a sukkah. The sukkah is a deliberately temporary house, which can have no more than one permanent wall, and whose roof must be open to the sky, covered only partially by natural materials such as branches. Over the course of the week, the Sukkah is supposed to be one’s home: to eat meals in, to celebrate, and even to sleep in.
The sukkah – an odd, unfinished, temporary building, with an open roof through which one can see the stars, is a symbol of peace and of reconciliation after the period of repentance that is drawing to a close. It is mentioned every Friday night on Shabbat, as a metaphor for peace, asking that God, "spread over us a sukkat shalom - sukkah of Your peace."
But there are also houses which are obstacles to peace. The houses being built in settlements are no mere symbols. They are active obstacles to the peace we cry out for. At the end of Sukkot, we tear down the temporary dwellings, recognizing that peace is not in the buildings, but in our actions. This year, as we dwell in our temporary houses, let us look up at the stars and picture a better future. And then, when sukkot ends, let’s stop the building.
May this year's sukkah be a sukkat shalom, a sukkah of peace, and may we merit to build our house - Israel- from peace.