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Napping in the Jewish Tradition 6
Sukkah to me
Uh oh. I’m stealing the great Rabbi’s lane again. I’m not really setting out to do it. It’s just that we are in the season of Jewish holidays, and they are all consuming in terms of thought and deed.1
With that, tomorrow evening begins the holiday of Sukkot, and a central commandment is to dwell in a makeshift tent,2 to mimic the experience of Jews who traversed the desert between Egypt and Canaan. In fact, the Talmud tells us that the commandment during Sukkot extends to an obligation to sleep in the sukkah.
However, it appears that at least since the 13th century, the common practice is to sleep indoors. There are various theories as to why this is so, all of them essentially saying that the obligation to dwell in the sukkah does not apply if it makes a person at all uncomfortable. For example, if it’s cold.3 I learned recently that the great Lubavitcher Rebbe4 did not sleep in the sukkah: whenever he found himself in the sukkah he felt the tremendous revelation of its holiness, which prevented him from being able to sleep there.
Wow. Very holy.
My reason is simpler. While I really like outdoor naps, my preferred nap in Fall is on my couch under a blanket near an open window. And wouldn’t you know? To get in the mindset of both the season, which started Saturday, and the Holiday, which starts tomorrow, my naps Tuesday-Thursday of this week were couch naps.
We had Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Miss a few days of work for those, and everyone gets it. Now we hit the point of the month where colleagues and non-Jewish friends think we are making this stuff up. “What? You build a hut in your backyard and eat the meals there and shake a palm branch and hold a lemon? Get back to work!” they say.
Called a “sukkah.”
Or for another example, if it rains every single day of your life like it has here in NY for the past week.
He started the Chabad movement.
Yes this is a real holiday.