Sep 19, 2021
2 mins read
This has been a funny year with the timing, stop and start, my internal weekly clock is completely off. I know Yom Kippur happened and then it seems that Sukkot crept up faster than ever. Baruch Hashem, I can't wait to see what surprises it will bring.
I managed to take a bit of time to refresh the laws of building a sukkah, even though unfortunately I won't be able to build one at home this year. Something caught my eye, and then that led to something else, and somehow I put together this shiur. We go on a bizarre halachic excursion through the sources - specifically exploring the seemingly strange law: the walls of a sukkah can be made out of a person, as long as they don't know it. Knowing and not-knowing seem to be intrinsic to what a sukkah is all about...
One detail just caught my eye now, as I'm writing this. The Shulchan Aruch writes:
יכול לעשות מחבירו דופן לסוכה להכשירה ואפילו ביום טוב ובלבד שלא ידע אותו שהועמד שם שבשביל מחיצה
One can use a friend to constitute a wall and make the sukkah valid, even on the holiday, as long as they do not know that they are standing there to be a wall. (630:12)
The Talmud and Maimonides speak about a human, but by the time of the Shulchan Aruch that changes to 'friend'. How does a friend stand there without knowing what they're doing? Or maybe only a friend would. All that just adds to the strangeness of this law of human walls. I really don't know what to make of it. I said something in the shiur, but that was more poetic than analytic.
Sukkah is in the category of immersive rituals: mikveh, tzitzit, tefillin. You don't do it, you enter it. There's an aspect of consciousness for sure, that's what we explored in the shiur. But it's not the same expression of consciousness as blowing the shofar or saying a prayer. It's an awareness of being, creating an immersive environment and then allowing the situation to become significant.
The holy Isaac Luria says that a Sukkah is a hug. Maybe that's a better way of explaining all this.
Wishing everyone a hug this Sukkot. Thank you to everyone who is or has supported me for these silly Jewish explorations, buying me a coffee or giving me some ideas and feedback.