While a tradition for the end of Yom Kippur is to return home and start building the Sukkah, I built our Sukkah this week as a way of engaging my grandson in the joy of the festival. After all, what meaning does Yom Kippur really have for children who are under three? Yes, we teach our young children to say “I’m sorry” when they have been cruel or selfish. But I would prefer to teach and expose our young children to the joys and celebrations of Judaism.
So I built the Sukkah the other day. I screwed the wood together, I cut branches from trees for the roof, cut some of our flowers – and made a point of leaving some things for a young child to do so that he might share in the preparation and anticipation of the festival.
And then something happened. I went to move one of the legs a few inches so that the whole “structure” might be more secure. And sure enough, the whole thing fell down.
No, I am neither builder nor architect. But what choice did I have other than to rebuild our Sukkah the next day, this time with a little “assistance” so that I need not fear that the Sukkah will fall upon us as we are eating.
But I found a message and lesson in this episode: Our Sukkahs do sometimes fall down, and life summons us to pick up the pieces and try again. So true that in life, most of the “failures” that we experience are the result, not of efforts that went wrong, but of efforts that we never made. So for all of us, as we anticipate Yom Kippur and then look forward to Sukkot, let us strive to keep “building” our lives as best we can. And when we fall short, or when “the Sukkah falls,” may we be granted the vision and determination to pick ourselves up and start anew.