As we began the festival of Sukkot last week I can’t help think about the similarities between a Sukkah and a Chuppah. They even sound alike! My colleague Rabbi Alex in New York shared that there are two Jewish structures that are deliberately designed to be temporary – the Sukkah and the Chuppah. The former is up right now in front of some synagogues and at homes in celebration of our most joyous holiday, Sukkot, and the latter for the wedding couple to stand under during their wedding ceremony. But, in addition to their intended purposes, they have important lessons to teach us about happiness and how to live our lives to the fullest. Here are just a few lessons.
1. Happiness does not require strong walls– on the contrary, sometimes the physical structures that pervade our lives, create barriers from one another.
2. Happiness is best shared – the Sukkah and the Chuppah are not happy on their own, but require our presence inside of them and surrounding them to feel the true extent of their joy.
3. Happiness requires vulnerability– there is little protection from the elements in either structure, a reminder that joy can come even when we feel most exposed.
4. And, happiness is a temporary state– there is a reason why we are required to take both the Sukkah and the Chuppah down after we are finished with them. First, they would likely blow away. But, second, if we lived under them permanently we would begin to take them for granted.
A sukkah is a temporary dwelling place where you eat your meals and sometimes sleep. A Chuppah is symbolic of the home that the bride and groom will build together. A home that will be full of love, respect, laughter, great food , great family and friends and wonderful health.
As a cantor who officiates weddings for Jewish brides and grooms I really enjoy not only officiating on the day of the their jewish wedding ceremony. I also truly enjoy and find it meaningful to explain to couples when we meet the symbolism behind the elements of their ceremony. I want them to know and understand what will take part in their ceremony and I have found that guests find it engaging to know what is taking place throughout a ceremony. Have a wonderful Sukkot holiday !