Here we are smack in the middle of the fall Jewish holy day cycle and I am already getting “yontiffed” out. It’s not like I don’t like these holidays; I actually do. It’s something about this stage of my life that makes me want to just step back a bit and let someone else do the work.
Sukkot is a terrific holiday. It’s about harvest and bounty, community and commonality. It seems almost appropriate for the American autumn. Traditionally, you build little “booths” with roofs that still allow you to see the stars. In America, it comes at a time when the air has that distinctive autumn aroma; it makes you want to have apple cider and ginger snaps.
In the synagogue, you march around with a lulav and an etrog (citron) as commanded in Leviticus 23:40: On the first day, you must take for yourself a fruit of the citron tree, an unopened palm frond (lulav), myrtle branches, and willows [that grow near] the brook. You shall rejoice before God for seven days.
And we do rejoice. And we celebrate. And we invite people. I’ve written about Ushpizin in an earlier blog entry (Exalted Guests....or WWJT: What would Jefferson Think?), a wonderful if not mystical tradition. This bring ancient practice into a modern world, making everyone stop and think, if for just a brief moment, about the fine thread the ties us to our past. That thread runs from our fingers right through the Second Temple, through the First Temple, and back to the base of Mt. Sinai where we signed on for the ride.
Sukkot is about civic responsibility. According to the law, the corners of our fields are not to be harvested, but are to be left for the gleaners. We have responsibility to make sure everyone has enough to sustain them. These days, not to many of us have fields, but we do have food shelves and food banks that we can help stock and maintain. It’s not enough to recognize the problem; we must be part of the solution.
That Sukkot comes shortly before election day is another message in a virtual bottle. I worry about the lack of civic responsibility in the process. I worry that how we spin our candidates and how we present them is not helpful toward unifying our nation. In fact, I worry that this particular election is tearing the fabric of our nation in a way that threatens our very existence. If our representatives cannot find a middle ground, cannot find a way to work together for the benefit of all citizens, we will lose the grand intent that made the United States the example of plurality, democracy, and relative functionalism that others want to emulate. Extremists from both sides are hijacking the process with stinging, inchoate innuendo that diminishes them as much as their targets. We are standing above a chasm that widens with every hate-filled ad.
We are not powerless and we can stop this.
The lines on the ballot represent our voices. What message are we sending when we mark our ballots and slide them into the box? Do our choices represent how we feel about our country, our state, our district? By casting the ballot, we are not just exercising our right to vote; we make a statement about who we are, and what place we envision ourselves standing in the universe.
We have a duty to tell our candidates that the past four years were not acceptable.
|the tree next door|
We are about to be inundated with adverts. Watch them, don’t watch them, throw tomatoes at the television if you want. If your mind is made up already, make sure you know what you’re voting for. If you haven’t made up your mind, start doing your homework. There's about one more month until Election Day…use it wisely.
And while you’re thinking about all this stuff, go grab a rake. We’re about to be inundated with dead leaves, too, and physical labor is good for you.
Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If your name is Mike Obermueller and
you're running for Congress in the gerrymandered Minnesota 2nd,
don't you think you should let people know?
Just a thought.