PREPENT DAY 40:
Tishrei 11 5776 – September 24 2015
The day after Yom Kippur is the first day of the rest of life. Prepent day 40 is the final destination of our journey – and the start of the next soul journey. It begins with building. And it begins with our not so subtle homage to impermanence.
In the sixteenth century the Yosef Ometz, a German Jewish law book instructed: “After breaking the fast of Yom Kippur, one goes out to where one builds one’s Sukkah, and accomplishes some minor detail in regards to building it in order to be occupied with a good deed as soon as possible. At a minimum one moves some boards or planks from the storage area to the Succah site.” Two hundred years later the Sefardi rabbi Hayim David Azulai added: “If one is not too tired from the fast.”
I remember this custom from my childhood in Israel. After the break-fast, the sound of metal pipes being dragged out of basements and some hammering into the night would indicate that some of our neighbors were already at it, beginning to build their sukkot. On some years we would do it too. But if not on the night after – on the day after.
You don’t hear this holy noise as much in Manhattan.
But today, in my backyard, I will have the privilege of shaping up a week-long temporary hut, a haven for feasts and gatherings, rest and renewal, the site for reflection on the journey just undertaken. My mother likes to write letters in the Succah.
Whether done physically or not, today is the day for starting to building something. The Sukkah is a container of what sacred and joyful life can look like and even if today will not be about tangible walls or roof or decorations let it be a day about building and rebuilding your container of love. Whatever that looks like for you – in your home, body, inner reality. One of my childhood Succah related activities was making decorations. Often those included long chains of interconnected circles, easy to make and easy on the eyes. In later years, creating these with my kids I paused to notice their ‘meaning’ – circle into circle, one long chain of interconnection, the togetherness of our highest aspirations for life of connection to our selves, the others in our lives, the sacred circle.
This is my takeaway from this year’s journey of prepenting: Not all building is built to last, but whatever we build in our lives, let it be built to love.
Thich Nhat Nanh taught: “Love is a living, breathing thing. there is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction. If we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find it is just there inside of us, solid and healing.”
Easy and gentle like a chain of paper circles to decorate your (or someone else’s) Succah and remind you of the journeys undertaken and the ones yet to come. With love.
Thank you for joining me on this journey towards a new year, a renewed self. I hope we continue to journey together again.
May this year offer us all the chances to connect, to reflect, to return to center, renew our commitments to what matters most, rebuild the love we are worthy of, and live each day as if our last. Or at the very least – may this be a year of being as present as possible, with an open heart.
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