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THE SUKKAH ROOF – ABOVE AND BEYOND…
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THE SUKKAH ROOF – ABOVE AND BEYOND…
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Man`s character comprises two main aspects: his relationship with his fellow man, and that with his Maker.

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The Sukkah also comprises two main essentials: its walls and an open, relatively flimsy roof.  Jewish Law specifies in detail just how each one should be constructed. We find an interesting parallel between the parts of the Sukkah and the make-up of human character.

The Sukkah's walls represent a person's relationship with others; its roof symbolizes his relationship to Heaven.  Let's develop this parallelism in greater detail.

In inter-personal relationships, there is a definite need to define territories and to set boundaries.  Each individual needs his own private "space."  So does each family.  It is this seclusion within one's own "four walls" that fosters unity among the members of the family unit. Walls not only protect, they also unite.  Our home is where we – the family unit – are together, as one.  It is defined by its walls, and its door opens only to those whom we wish to admit.  Only this warm "nest" can endow man with the warmth and support that are essential to his emotional strength and well-being.

Each individual is free to design his home in keeping with his personal preferences and character.  Some have very open home, others are more reserved, and view their domiciles as a private, very personal refuge or retreat from the public eye, to be shared only with the members of his immediate family.

The decision to create a closed, protective fortress, or a meeting point for friends and acquaintances that is open to all, lies entirely with the individual.  Another decision will be whether the tone will be formal, luxurious or restrained, relaxed and casual, or formal, reserved or bold and commanding, each according to his own taste.

The same range of options lies open to each of us when he comes to build his private sukkah for the holiday.  This is why the Torah does not specify any requirements as to the nature of the walls of the sukkah, apart from minimal size and durability – they must not be so flimsy that they will flap in the wind.  The owner of the sukkah has a more or less free hand when it comes to building the walls of his temporary home for the Festival.

If we review the laws concerning the roof of the sukkah, we find a striking difference.  Here there is far less room for flexibility.  The laws of the Torah clearly specify how the roof must be constructed, which materials are permitted, how they may be secured in place, and to what degree the roof may be impervious to the elements, if at all.  For example, we find that the roof must be made of some material that grows from the ground, and it may not be so densely applied that one cannot see the stars through it at night.

The millionaire may, if he wishes, build the walls of his sukkah from Italian marble studded with gemstones; the pauper may be reduced to using rough planks or recycled doors.

However, when it comes to the roof, both are strictly limited in their options, and the difference between them will be minimal.  The sechach over their heads will be a temporary covering, enough to shade them – partially – from the sun, yet with enough gaps to allow the heavens and its stars to be seen at night. 

Man's relationship to his Maker is unaffected by an abundance or a lack of material resources - like the roof of his sukkah.

The sukkah teaches us that, no matter how sturdy and elegant may be the walls of our home, it may still be exposed, metaphorically, to the wind and the rain from Above.  In the final estimation, it is not the walls of our home, but the bond of its residents with the One Above which makes a home secure.


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