Kfar Maccabiah, October 2014
Searching for meaningful Succot material, I came
across an elaborate Chassidic story. I found the opening
paragraphs instructive and edifying, and I was moved by
them, so here they are:
"A very, very poor chassid (pupil, follower) of the
Karlin Rabbi dwelt in a tiny and rundown house in a small
shtetl. This chassid was known to everyone in town for his
complete happiness despite his poverty, and his happiness
Every year on the eve of Succot, this humble chassid,
much too poor to buy materials from which to construct a
succah, waited for everyone to finish
constructing their 'huts'. Then he would walk through the
little shtetl and ask people for any unused, spare or
rejected materials - rusty nails, broken wooden slats -
anything that he might use to build his own succah. So each
year, the poor Karliner chassid constructed and lived for 7
days with joy - real joy! - in his own succah, singing,
smiling and enjoying the company of all his loved ones."
Two aspects of this small and simple story are
definitely instructive. Today, an era where success is
measured by the size of accumulated capital, and happiness
is often related to money, this poor chassid testifies to us
that happiness does not depend on wealth. Also, in terms of
how we relate to everything that exists, the story teaches
much of how we assess the value of what surrounds us; so
often, we scorn things, especially, but not only in times of
In connection with this last point and in regard to
Succot (the Festival starting this Wednesday evening), this
chassid was able to build his succah "with what was left
over" by others - with things that had no value to others.
The chassid could see what most people no longer could. He
knew to build with what others rejected; he understood the
value of everything that exists; he interacted with the
world, humbly acknowledging the daily miracle of life, in
all its aspects.
By his simple actions, our chassid sends a tender,
happy and powerful message to us for this Succoth: it is
always possible to construct our temporary and permanent
"buildings" by appreciating all the gifts of life - even by
using the circumstances, opportunities, the "things"
rejected by others. It is possible to perceive the value in
everything; we can restore our ability to appreciate
everything around us, everything we have, everything that
makes up our daily existence; at every moment, we have the
opportunity to transform the "building of our succah" into a
production that combines what others have to give, lifting
what others discard into a place devoted to family, friends,
and the warmth of those who are important to us. "The succah
of the spirit" is a fusion of all that others give us, a
succah which represents the value of all that exists, a
venue for reflection and appreciation of gratitude and joy,
transformed - like our humble chassid's succah - by songs
and happiness to a place of joy.
May God grant that our succah is erected in the
assessment of all the components of our lives, taking
nothing for granted, combining all the pieces everybody can
and wants us to give us to spread joy, dialogue, warm
the celebration of life itself.
May God grant that we celebrate the joy of
Succot in our action;
a joy to translate goals into achievements,
dreams into realities.
May God inspire us to realize that joy is a
capable of transforming the world, beginning with
our nearest and dearest, then spreading and multiplying the
joy of all our People.
And May God find us on this Succot
happier and more complete because richer in
joyously celebrating the countless opportunities of
our daily lives.
With best wishes,
Chag Succot Sameach!
RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO
Deputy Director-General &
Director of Education
Festivity of Succot, we are ordered to dwell in
booths - the very fragile succot - for seven days -
Vaikrah (Leviticus) XXIII, 42. Moreover, we are
supposed to consider the succah as our fixed
dwelling for those days - Babylonian Talmud, Succot