Printer Friendly

The sukkah and the World Trade Center.

A few weeks ago, the Jewish community celebrated the harvest festival by building "sukkot." What is a "sukkah"? Just a fragile hut with a leafy roof, the most vulnerable of houses. Vulnerable in time, where it lasts for only a week each year. Vulnerable in space, where its roof must be not only leafy but leaky--letting in the starlight, and gusts of wind and rain.

Why a sukkah? Why does the Sukkot prayer plead to God for a "sukkah of shalom" rather than God's "tent" or "house" or "palace" of peace? Precisely because the sukkah is so vulnerable.

For much of our lives we try to achieve peace and safety by building with steel and concrete and toughness--pyramids, air raid shelters, Pentagons, and World Trade Centers. We harden what might be targets and, like Pharaoh, harden our hearts against what is foreign to us. But the sukkah comes to remind us: We are in truth all vulnerable. If "a hard rain gonna fall," it will fall on all of us.

Americans have felt invulnerable. The oceans, our wealth, our military power have made up what seemed an invulnerable shield. Yet on Sept. 11 the ancient truth came home: We all live in a sukkah.

The planet is one interwoven web of life. I must love my neighbor as I do myself, because my neighbor and myself are interwoven. If I hate my neighbor, the hatred will recoil upon me.

How do we make such a vulnerable house into a place of shalom, of peace and security and harmony and wholeness? The lesson is that only a world where we all recognize our vulnerability can become a world where all communities feel responsible to all other communities. Once acts of murder happen, the murderers must be brought to justice--without killing more innocents. But the goal must be to prevent such murders, and only a world where we all know how vulnerable we are can prevent such acts of rage and murder. If I treat my neighbor's pain and grief as foreign, I will end up suffering when my neighbor's pain and grief curdle into rage. But if I realize that the walls between us are full of holes, I can reach through them in compassion.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is director of The Shalom Center and author of Godwrestling--Round 2.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Sojourners
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Waskow, Arthur
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Previous Article:A word of hope in the rubble.
Next Article:Let there be light.

Related Articles
World Trade Organization caught in the middle: are TEDS the only way out?
Securities Pro.
Editor's corner.
From Dr. Janice Campbell. (Letters to the Editor).
WTC trial should begin in early February.
Wares v. Vanbebber.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters