One of the reasons I love the holiday of Sukkot (besides the fact that I was born during it!) is the aspect of welcoming guests into the Sukkah that my husband, children, and I work so hard to build and decorate together.
But, this year, on the first night, we had no guests.
And believe me, all day long leading up to the first evening of the 7 day-holiday, I was stuck on having no guests.
I was just too last minute to remember to even invite guests, and instead was busy (literally dripping with sweat), as I cooked, ran around the kibbutz cutting down branches (s’chah) with my neighbor’s enormous cutting shears for the roof of our sukkah, decorated the synagogue with myrtle (hadas) branches, hung each of my kids’ beaded branches, set the table, crocheted a center piece and put pieces of fresh aromatic myrtle in it, cooked some more, ensured all the roles of the synagogue were being taken of for the holiday (did I mention I am the head of the synagogue committee on my kibbutz?), and the list went on.
And, as the sweat continued to pour down my head, I just got more and more upset.
How did I let this happen?
How did I forget to invite guests? – Such an integral aspect of the holiday!!
What will my kids think?
They’re going to be pissed at me!
They love guests!
And, especially on holidays.
And, in my last minute attempt to invite guests, it seemed that everyone already either had plans or was away.
And, in my rage, as often times happens, my husband wants to know why I’m mad at him, though, of course, I’m not. I’m mad at myself.
The day quickly passed and we all continued to be in a hurry, and, as my husband climbed up to the ridiculously high roof of our Sukkah and I inadeptly threw my enormoulsy newly cut branches up to him for him to place on to the roof, our youngest child (2 years old) looked up at his dad standing on top of the Sukkah and asked innocently, “Abba, what are you doing?”
And, my husband wittingly responded, “Making Ema (Mom) happy.”
And, just those 3 words broke the “stuckiness”.
I laughed hard.
It was actually quite funny to me.
I couldn’t stop smiling.
Suddenly, I was happy.
How could I not see, this entire day, how happy and lucky I was… For my husband, for my kids, for the beautiful sukkah we built together and the delicious food that was simmering in the pots, for our community and synagogue, for the weather, for living in Israel, for the gorgeous view we have from our Sukkah. For our health. For so much.
So, I thought to myself, why are you stuck on no guests?
There are still 7 days of the holiday left!
6 more dinners!
Endless snack times!
What are you so upset about?
It’s the Time for Happiness (Z’man Simchtaynu) for goodness sake!
And so, in the traditional way of inviting transcendent guests (Ushpizin, Biblical characters) into our Sukkah, we went around, on that first night of Sukkah, and each family member took a turn to invite (out loud) one guest to our Sukkah, whether the person was alive or deceased.
As I listened to each choice, I cried tears of happiness.
For the guests we had just invited.
And, for the ability to be happy about it.