We are mishkan builders – Happy Sukkot!September 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Posted in adamahniks, community, Sukkot | 1 Comment
The following post is written by Rachel Bickel, a fall 2010 Adamah fellow.
I imagine the content of these last days and see movement. Movement in and out… from one state to another… from the forest into my tent and deeper into my sleeping bag. And then out again. Into boots and onto a bicycle, traversing a landscape that seems to be changing before my very eyes, becoming both familiar and slightly different as we transition into autumn. I feel the movement now even as I write this – the ache in my body, the fatigue. But I’m satisfied. Next to the ache there is the warmth of sun and the residue of soil… traces of all that we have done in such a short time.
And so here we are, preparing for Sukkot… moving furniture, assigning tasks. Who will do Torah reading, someone asks. Where are the decorative gourds that we harvested this morning? Just days ago we were fasting, steeped in the depth and solemnity of Yom Kippur and immediately the mood has shifted to one of joy and celebration. And thus the theme of movement feels so profound, so fitting for this season of both awe and harvest, this shifting from the depths of ourselves to the miracle and joy that is community and abundance. And yet we have this stunning sukkah to remind us of the impermanence of it all.
The season, this flannel shirt, my fatigue, this tent dwelling of mine and the faces and energies that make up Isabella Freedman… these things will change and become something else. But here we are, walking at once along our own paths and yet building a life and a home together, in a way that feels right.
It reminds me of an essay I read by Arthur Green a couple of years ago, one that has remained with me for a long time. In it he asks, “What does it mean to be yisra’el amekha? It means that our job is to seeks always to do what comes after Sinai: to erect a dwelling place for God on earth. We Jews are mishkan builders; that’s what its all about. ‘From the beginning,’ says the Midrash, ‘the Shekinah sough to dwell below,’ on earth, within the natural and human communities. Our job is to live in such a way, to create a community of such holiness that the divine presence will feel comfortable, at home, dwelling in our midst.”
So my hope and perhaps my blessing is that we keep on building, whether it is a sukkah, a community or a mishkan, in the context this tradition, with love and reverence for the natural world and all that is within and upon it. And may our roots remain firm, even in our impermanence. L’chaim.