07 October 2009

A Musing About Sukkah: Taking Sukkot Seriously

This week is the annual Jewish festival of Sukkot ("booths"). God commanded the Jews that "בַּסֻּכֹּת תֵּשְׁבוּ, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים" ("in booths you shall sit for seven days") (Lev.23.42). Our rabbinic sages have explained this to mean "תשבו כעין תדורו" ("you shall reside in a manner similar to which you dwell") (Sukkah 28b). Basically, most activities one does in their homes, they should do in these huts (with certain exceptions, such as urinating and washing dishes). (On a related note, a brief, yet good recent post on which things require the blessing in the sukkah).
My musing on this is that, ever since I was a child, dining was generally done while watching tv and, unless you have your own sukkah (we are using our apartment building's sukkah), it's hard to bring one's television to the sukkah. Also, if one had their own sukkah near their home, it wouldn't be difficult to do their web browsing in their sukkah, however, in communal sukkot, there may not be wifi available. In both of these instances, the Sages' prescription of settling in a similar manner in which one dwells may be not completely tenable. Of course, on the other hand, if one has wifi which extends unto one's sukkah, there should be no good reason not to do one's web browsing in one's sukkah. As to television, that might take some skill in figuring how to get cable tv in their sukkah (or just watch it in one's home, as most people do).
Just putting this stuff out there so sukkah-dwelling can be taken more seriously, along the lines of what our Sages laid out for us.
{Related: last year's vlog post where I discuss "Sukkah in the City" (warning: I didn't realize how long-winded I was)}

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