Rich and I put up the wooden lattice sukkah on Sunday, and we agreed the poor warped thing should be put out of its misery after the holiday, if it stays up that long.  After last Sukkot, I had started pricing PVC pipe with an eye toward a new design, but I’ve decided it would be simpler just to cave and buy a Tinker Toy type kit (no more splinters!) next year.

I really think Sukkot, which begins tonight, is way too close to Yom Kippur.  Or, as Jon Stewart put it, “It’s Sukkot, which is the Hebrew word meaning, ‘How many holidays can Jews fit into one month?’” It’s a pity a specific date was set in the Torah, rather than, say, “six weeks after autumnal equinox,” more in line with our harvests.  Sukkot would then not be overshadowed by the High Holidays.  It can really be a fun holiday, what with erecting and decorating the sukkah, eating (even sleeping) in the sukkah,  marching around with and waving the lulav and etrog.  My son’s Bar Mitzvah was on the first day of Sukkot (9/25/99!). As one of his guests helped us decorate the Sukkah the day before, I was reminded of the fun I had decorating a neighbor’s Christmas tree.  Hey, strings of Christmas lights are popular for the sukkah nowadays.  Maybe next year.

The Torah reading is the same for the first and second days of Sukkot,  Lev. 22:26 – 23:44 and Numbers 29:12-16 (sacrifices!). The haftarot differ, though, Zechariah 14:1-21 on day 1 and I Kings 8:2-21 second day, both of which refer to the holiday. My son’s Bar Mitzvah d’var Torah focused on 22:27, a command that an animal has to be with its mother a week before it can be sacrificed. The Torah readings are mainly about the holidays (you can catch the Leviticus section again 2nd day of Passover).and give us the non-sacrifical rituals, more of the feeling of the holidays.  Sukkot is a time for rejoicing; a few weeks ago, we read that (Deut. 16:15), on Sukkot, “v’hayita ach sameach,” “you will be altogether happy.”   On Saturday, Shabbat Hol HaMoed Sukkot, the readings are Exodus 33:12 – 34:26 (Moses sees the Lord’s back and goes up to carve the second set of tablets) and, because it’s the 3rd day of Sukkot, Numbers 29:17-22 (more sacrifices!).  The haftarah, Ezekiel 38:18 – 39:16 is totally apocalyptic. It is also customary to read the book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet), ostensibly by King Solomon, this Shabbat.  

Wishing you all an altogether Happy Sukkot and Shabbat Shalom.


Sukkot items OK in U.S. airports [that’s nice to know]

September 16, 2010

(JTA) — Jews will be able to carry their lulavs and etrogs through U.S. airports without fear of being stopped by security.
The national Transportation Security Administration issued a special alert this week noting that Jewish travelers may be carrying the four species — a palm branch, myrtle branches, willow branches and a citron — through the airport and security checkpoints during the Sukkot travel period, identified as Sept. 19 through Oct. 4. The eight-day observance of Sukkot in the Diaspora begins at sundown Sept. 22.
“TSA’s screening procedures do not prohibit the carrying of such agricultural items through the airport or security checkpoints, or on airplanes,” according to the statement.
The plants are not on TSA’s Prohibited Items list.
 “TSA is committed to treating all passengers, including passengers who may be observing Succot, with respect and dignity during the screening process,” said the statement.
Too late for this year, but if you want to get fancy next year:

• Mehadrin straps and sturdy center supports
• Durable materials, galvanized metal
• 30-minute set-up, using Ease Lock system
• No tools required
• Available in large sizes
• Not available in stores

Double the Mitzva!
Take this special mitzva to a whole new level. When you buy a Designer Succah for your family, the proceeds will help Oorah donate a Succah to a Jewish family that would otherwise not have one. Your family and guests will love the artistic look of your Designer Succah, and an Oorah family will have the incomparable joy of their first real Succos. Be unique, be ahead of the crowd, and be among those who show that they care about their fellow Jews.

ORDER yours today!   1-877-2-Succah

Passed along by Stanley (thanks!)

—————————- Buying a Lulav and Etrog for Sukkot  

[NOTE: I have not seen the whole video because of excessively slow downloading.  What I have seen looks OK, but I do not guarantee its complete inoffensiveness. IGP]

October 01, 2009
by Heshy Fried on September 21, 2010  

Picking the perfect etrog for Sukkot isn’t easy, but Heshy Fried, aka Frum Satire*, walks around Hasidic Brooklyn trying to figure out what makes an etrog perfect.

*About Frum Satire’s articles at “It ain’t always frum, and it ain’t always satire.”  

Is a mitzva on the iPhone kosher?

05/06/2010 21:35

New apps offer virtual lulavim, kippot and dreidels.
It’s the eve of Succot. You’re stranded in the airport on account of strange volcanic ash drifting through Europe’s skies. Bereft of lulav and etrog, as the sun descends, you take out your… iPhone?

According to Rabbi Hillel Weinberg, head of the Aish Hatorah yeshiva, the answer is no. But that hasn’t stopped iPhone developers in their quest to make an app for everything – including everything Jewish.

“It’s not kosher for the mitzva,” said Weinberg, “but it’s a nice thing to do so people know what we do on Succot.”

The Lulav Wizard application uses the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer to allow users to shake a virtual, 3D lulav and etrog, providing sound effects, step-by-step instructions, and of course the accompanying blessings in Hebrew and English. The app promises “good fun for the vilda chaya [unruly child](literally, “wild animal” IGP) or altacocker [old man] (literally, old, ahem, f*rt).”

Rabbi Shimon Hurowitz of Aish Hatorah explained that the mitzva was not valid this way, because “you have to have an actual lulav and etrog. If you wanted to eat and someone gave you a picture of a hamburger, it doesn’t mean you can eat it. It has to be real.”

Application developer Stuart Rubin agrees, saying “it was never intended to be a substitute for the mitzva. It was meant to be educational, an entrée for someone who had never shaken a lulav. A way to get more comfortable with doing it.”
Sent out 5 years ago (there’s audio at the site):

An excerpt from A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor (GK), 4/18/98

The Oldest Living Comedy Team

GK: Today is our annual joke show and it’s an honor to introduce my next guests —- we have the oldest living comedy team in the world with us, today.

WB: That’s right.

TR: Twelve thousand years old.

WB: We’re so old we’re in Noah’s yearbook.

TR: That’s old……

TR: [Solomon] was the first one to write down his routines.

GK: He wrote down his jokes?

TR: Ecclesiastes. You ever read that?

GK: Ecclesiastes from the Bible? You mean that Solomon?

WB: Ecclesiastes. That was his whole act. He was very popular up in Beirut. That was like Miami Beach then. “Nothin’ ever changes,” that was his whole schtick. “The rivers run into the sea and yet the sea is not full.” That’s a joke. “Everything is vanity.”

TR: “Look at this garbage,” he’d say, “Nothin’ ever changes. You do good, you do bad, you live a little then you die.” He was a funny guy.

WB: He said, “Whoever increases knowledge increases sorrow.” That was a scream back then. People used to roll under the tables. Funny guy.   People’d laugh—- you’d see pomegranates come out their noses, that’s how funny he was.

TR: “The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong nor riches to men of understanding, but time and chance happeneth to them all.” People used to sit and howl when he told that.

WB: That’s the whole meaning of comedy right there. You’re fast, you fall down, you’re strong and you poke yourself with your sword, you’re smart and you go broke.

TR: He was an great comedian, Solomon. “Cast your bread upon the waters and you shall find it after many days.” I loved that one.

GK: I didn’t know that was comedy.

WB: A lot of people back then didn’t know it was comedy. You get audiences like that now and then. The Samaritans. Terrible audience. Nice people, but no sense of humor. …

GK: Right. Why do we need to tell jokes?

TR: Because. Life is terrible, its miserable, you wouldn’t wish it on a dog.

GK: So jokes come from misery?

WB: Jokes are misery. You tell a joke, it’s like saying, “Hey, we got a lousy deal,” and everyone who’s listening laughs, because they’re thinking, “That’s what I thought too, but I thought I was the only one.”

GK: So you don’t think there are new jokes?

WB: It’s like Solly said: “The thing that has been is the thing that shall be; and the thing that is done is that which shall be done: there is nothing new under the sun.”

GK: And we’re out of time. What’s your favorite joke?

WB: My favorite joke is: If you could have a conversation with someone, living or dead, who would it be? —- I’d choose the one who’s living. That joke was very very big among the Abyssinians. It’s very funny in Urdu.


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