The week before my husband was niftar, we celebrated Succos in grand style – hashgahically invited much of our Israeli family that we hadn’t seen for years, and old friends who we have never had over.
Before we built the Succah though, our kids voiced their complaints about our boring and colorless Succah. Every year we covered the walls with off-white sheets, put up real pictures of Gedolim, and had a plain looking Succah with all of our furniture, just like our home.
I brought up their concerns with their Aba. “Colorful lights, Aba.” “The children requesteth colorful lights this year in accordance with their neighbors’ rituals”.
Gershon zt”l was very makpid on the halacha that a Succah needs to be like the inside of our house and since we didn’t decorate the inside of our house with colorful lights, so too we shouldn’t decorate the Succah with colorful lights.
“The kids are upset. Isn’t part of the mitzva that they should enjoy the Succah too?” I argued.
Aba decided to be silent, as I obviously was not hearing him…
I started to interview other neighbors, and especially the daughter of a big Rabbi in the Old City who I respected very much. She said that her father made sure that the Succah looked like his home but did give each kid a very little corner to hang their drawings. “Aha!” I thought. In my home, we have a kids’ section, so too our Succah will have a kids’ section. I was sure I had found the secret to pleasing my kids and honoring my husband by adhering to the halacha. My legal background had not been for nothing!
We spent many fine hours shopping with my kids in Geula for all of their kids’ corner trinkets. Somehow, in my haste and excitement, I had purchased many hanging vines, grapes, and various pomegranates and other fruits. I hung them proudly all around the side and top of the Succah, and arranged a cute corner for the kids along with the finer wall sheets and dishes that my late husband preferred so as to make the Succah very home-like. I was very proud of my ingenuitive thinking.
My husband walked in and was very impressed. But then he looked at all the hanging vines curiously and said..
‘hmm… does this look like a home? Do we have these hanging vines at home?” And I realized that in my hashkafic victories I had somehow forgotten to consider the validity of these vines in the context of our home theme – they just looked so appealing. Now what? I really liked them and I was already done. But what about our Succah being like our home?
Then someone walked in and said “Wow, it looks like Gan Eden in here”. “Aha!” I said. I got it. This is our home in Gan Eden. I called Gershon zt”l into the Succah and said “Gershon, this Succah is modeled after our home in Gan Eden.”
So there we had it. We spent Succos in our Gan Eden home-themed Succah.
Just over a week later, Gershon zt”l went to rest in his eternal Gan Eden Succah.
I hope it is much nicer 🙂