Under the Sukkah

I have never thought of myself as claustrophobic- until this afternoon’s experience under the rabbi’s sukkah. Perhaps it was that I felt exposed, pressured to act the part, and be something more interactive than just an observer- a role that I am familiar with. Most of the time, at large gatherings, I am much more comfortable ‘doing’ than ‘being’. At best I am a good listener- at worst a frightened mute rabbit. Give me time to be with a small group- a group that is safe, welcoming, gathered with intent and a shared bond of fellowship. The ‘herd’ is a difficult place to be in- herds can change on a dime. On one hand, I have had many joyous celebrations in my own home, with large numbers of friends and acquaintances- on the other hand, I feel completely invisible in my own ‘congregation’- among those of my own ‘tribe’. So what made this afternoon such a challenge for me? I think that it has something to do with not knowing the rules until I have broken them. There were people under the sukkah who were not ‘safe’, who were in fact very unpredicatable, and who had acted in hurtful irrational ways toward me. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are supposed to be about renewal, forgiveness, new beginnings, and making God the King of one’s life. If this is a test, it is an appropriate one for the time of year. And yet, I have had too many rejections in my lifetime to wrestle down another. I can forgive and let go- I just cannot engage with the perpetrators. The familiar icy hand squeezes my stomach- I feel faint, wordless, and as significant as dust. I find myself looking once again for the radical Rabbi whose Way was love- is he there for me? Or shall I fall unsearched for through the cracks?

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