We are having a wonderful Succot!
Good friends invited us for the first chag (holiday) of Succot (Monday evening and Tuesday).
To my surprise, and delight, when they heard that my parents are visiting, they extended the invitation to include my parents.
As we discussed our Succot plans, our hosts expanded the invitation, to include several days that we would spend together, touring the Shomron (Samaria region).
I was excited about the opportunity to spend so much time with these friends, who are so special to us, but who we rarely see.
We arrived Erev Succot (on the eve of the holiday). We were eager to help, but our hosts were already finished with almost everything. (So different from our home, where we are usually panicking until the last minute!)
Their succah was decorated with beautiful pictures, of the Seven Species (put out by Beit El), the Beit HaMikdash, and Kever Yosef (Joseph's tomb).
The picture of Kever Yosef was especially moving. (click here to order) A black and white photo, from 1916, the kever (tomb) is a lone building, surrounded by desolate, rolling hills. The city of Sh'chem was built around the kever. Today, Jews can only visit what remains of Kever Yosef (after the Arabs torched and demolished the building in 2003), with special permision, and escort, from the Israeli army. (for more details about Kever Yosef, "then and now", see here)
The picture was like a beacon, signalling what was, and what could be. If we truly treasured our holy sites, Kever Yosef would still be standing intact and unmolested, and Jews would have free access to visit and worship.
Interestingly, Kever Yosef is one of the three sites listed in the Bible as having been purchased. The other two are Me'arat HaMachpelah (The Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hevron, and Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem.
But I digress....
During dinner, which was delicious, children from the neighborhood came to visit ("Succah hopping"). There were no adults accompanying these groups of small children, who roam freely in the yishuv (community settlement). Some of the children had prepared divrei Torah (snippets of Torah study), and all were carrying small bags, filled with candies and snacks they had already collected from other succot (pl. succah).
After dinner, some other friends of ours, T&MF, surprised us by popping over to visit. We all hung out in the succah, laughing and telling stories.
Later, we found out that all our kids had disappeared, along with our hosts' kids. They felt right at home on the yishuv, and went succah hopping with their friends. It was nice.
The next day, we went to lunch by other friends, J&DS. There, too, our kids felt very comfortable. We were able to hang out talking, while our kids did their own thing.
After lunch, we left our kids behind, and returned to the air-conditioned home of our hosts. Ahhh, for once I was happy for the cool air! A few minutes later, I was fast asleep....
I did not have to worry about my kids at all. They completely integrated into yishuv life, and were totally happy to be free and on their own.
We all had a terrific chag, filled with good company, good conversation, good food, and good fun!
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,