Sukkat David haNofelet

The phrase is from liturgy, “the fallen sukkah of David.” It is a poetic way of referring to the end of the Davidic monarchy, about 2,500 years ago, and with it the end of Jewish independence until 1948, with the exception of the Hasmoneans (aka Maccabees). Since in prayers it is usually part of a sentence asking for the re-raising of “the fallen sukkah of David,” it ordinarily refers to the hope for Jewish national and religious restoration, a hope which was wrapped up for generations in the notion of the arrival of the (Jewish) Messiah.

But it’s just a phrase to me, one that’s been reverberating through my head for a couple of weeks… First the synagogue sukkah fell down about 2 weeks ago, and now mine (yes, it should have been down several weeks ago, but who had time?) fell in the huge wind and rain storm last Thursday night or Friday morning. It’s sad. I’ve never had a sukkah actually fall down before.

Fallen Sukkah 5767 - 4This is the joke I’ve been telling on behalf of the synagogue sukkah and its builders, and now for my own:

A family went to the Rabbi and asked, “Rabbi, how do we build a sukkah?” The rabbi opened the Talmud to Tractate Sukkot, found the spot he (or she) was looking for, and read aloud from the Rashi (commentary) some very specific instructions for building a sukkah. The family thanked him and went away.

The next week, the rabbi saw them again. This one had a bandaged head, and this one had a cast, and that one was limping … “What happened?!” cried the rabbi.

“Well, we followed the instructions to the letter, and we were sitting in the sukkah enjoying our meal, and the first big wind came along and blew it down on our heads!”

“Oy oy oy!” cried the rabbi. “I don’t understand! Rashi was so clear about how to build it!” So back the rabbi went to the Talmud and opened up to the same page, and re-read the instructions. Then he read a little further and looked up. “You know?” he said. “Rashi says the same thing.”