The Message of the Sukkah

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Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life. — Psalm 143:8

Today and for the next seven days, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Please enjoy these devotions centered on this joyous holiday that were prepared for you in advance as the first two days of Sukkot are non-working days.

Around the mid-1800s, a man known as the Great Blondin attempted to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Five thousand people gathered to watch. In the middle of the walk, Blondin suddenly stopped, backflipped into the air, landed on the rope, and then continued safely to the other side. Blondin would cross the Falls many more times — once blindfolded, once carrying a stove, once in chains, and once on a bicycle.

One time, however, he showed up with a wheelbarrow. Blondin turned to the crowd and shouted, “Who believes that I can cross pushing this wheelbarrow?” Every hand in the crowd went up.

Blondin pointed at one man. “Do you believe that I can do it?” he asked. “Yes, I believe you can,” said the man. “Are you sure?” said Blondin. “Yes,” said the man. “Absolutely certain?” “Yes, absolutely certain.” “Thank you,” said Blondin. “Then, sir, get into the wheelbarrow.”

The Message of the Sukkah

In Judaism, there are two words that roughly express the idea of faith. One is emunah, “belief,” the other is bitachon, “trust.” And there is a profound difference between the two. Emunah is believing in God and believing that He runs the world. Bitachon, a higher level of faith, is acting in accordance with that belief.

Every year the Jewish people practice this faith-living — this bitachon — on the holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. For seven days, we leave the comfort of our homes and go live outside in a rickety hut called a sukkah as a reminder of God’s provision and protection for us year-round.

A sukkah is actually only valid for use if the roof has enough empty spaces so that we can see the sky when sitting inside. It must be a temporary dwelling to be kosher for use. Sitting and sleeping in the sukkah, exposed to the elements, we are most definitely reminded that we rely on God.

Just as God had protected the Israelites while they wandered the harsh desert following the Exodus, God provides and protects us from all the vulnerabilities of life. And no matter how much material security we surround ourselves with, we must always remember that it is by God’s kindness that we live every day. This is the message of the sukkah.

Your turn: How do you show God that you “trust” in Him? Tithing for charity is one important way we show God that we trust that He will continue to provide whatever we need.

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