At synagogue this past Shabbat I saw a father of a child that goes to my Yadid’s school. He said, ” I see that Yadid is having a good time at school”. I asked him what he meant. It turns out that his children get on the bus after Yadid. This father has been having trouble getting his kids on the bus, but every morning he sees that Yadid is sitting there happy as can be on his way to school. I had not thought about it that much but Yadid, who just started kindergarten this year, never hesitated to get on the bus. While I was initially proud of Yadid being so independent, I then became a little sad that Yadid was so quick to get on that bus and leave me behind.
I have been reflecting on this as we come up to the end of this interminable litany of holidays. With the advent of Elul we have been saying L’David. There in Psalm 27 we read:
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit early in God’s temple.
5 For God conceals me in God’s pavilion in the day of evil; God hides me in the covert of God’s tent; God lifts me up upon a rock.
It seems that now, during Succot, we have finally arrived. We are spending our time in “the house of the Lord”. In this festival we used to visit “in God’s temple”; but even without the Temple, we get to spend Succot concealed in “ God’s pavilion”. And then just like that, along will come Simchat Torah and we will be gone. Just like my son getting on the bus without looking back, we will abandon the Succah and stop saying L’David.
Coming to the end of a period of our trying to get close to God it would be fitting to declare our sadness in having to leave that space. It makes sense that we turn from Pslam 27 to Lev Tahor, (Psalm 51). There we read:
12 Create for me a pure heart, O God; and renew a righteous spirit within me.
13 Please do not cast me away from You; and do not take from me Your holy spirit.
We do not want to spend the rest of the year in exile from God. We want to spend all of our time in God’s presence. It is hard to maintain that intense connection all year long. We want to move on to being productive, just as Yadid is excited to go to school. Our only hope is that after the holiday season we have been changed. That we have returned to the purity of spirit of a 5- year-old heading off to school. Adina and I hope that Yadid will learn about the world with an open mind, will learn from people with an open heart, and will always act as a Mentsch.
As Adina has taught me, sometimes words can only get so far and then music needs to take over. So before the moment passes I wanted to share with you a version of Lev Tahor by Pharoah’s Daughter that I have been singing all of Succot.
I feel as if they really capture the sentiment of the song. I hope that this song will give you pause to appreciate the present of presence we have on Succot. We are not being sent away (תַּשְׁלִיכֵנִי), we are leaving as messengers (שְׁלִיכים) carrying out our duty. It is bitter sweet to say goodbye, but with a pure spirit we turn our attention to the work ahead.