“Quick! You NEED this product!” shouts the latest advertisement. 

“Tidy up!” (is what our house would say, if it could talk) “There are things everywhere!” 

Stuff. Objects. Possessions. 

A lot of us are surrounded by stuff; by things. But as the saying goes:

“The most important things in life…aren’t things” 

Anthony J. D’Angelo

As Slovie Jungreis Wolff explains, on Sukkot, we “leave our homes and for 7 days we live in the sukkah. All the comforts of home are inside. Somehow we are content…we join those we love in celebration. What happened to all the stuff we thought we needed to be happy?”

Most days, it can be so easy to get caught up in the material world. We have to eat, cook, and clean up (or at least pick up some ready-made food). We have to remember to bring stuff with us, like our wallets, phones, etc. We live in a physical world, and many of us are blessed to live in a home filled with stuff.

But what happens when we simplify our lives for a few days? What happens when we go into a Sukkah, leaving the majority of our stuff behind?

We realize that the stuff isn’t us. The stuff isn’t essential to who we are. Even our homes – strong and (reasonably) weatherproof – are not integral to our being. When we enter the simplified space of the Sukkah, we remember who we really are. 

We are not our stuff, nor are we merely bodies that handle the stuff. 

We are souls. That is who we really are. 

When we enter the sukkah; when we simplify our lives, what remains? Our essences. Our souls. 

Our souls are where true happiness originates. The soul is the highest part of us; the spark of life breathed into us by G-d. 

The soul doesn’t need more stuff. The soul needs connection to other souls, and to G-d. The soul needs to do good in the world; to give; to grow. The soul is who we really are.

Entering the Sukkah puts us in touch with our deepest selves, reminding us of our true essence.

Entering the Sukkah reminds us to ask: are we feeding our souls enough? How can we feed our souls throughout the year?

A great way to start is with Jewish learning. (JET offers many learning opportunities, in groups or one-on-one. Check out our emails or message us for more info.) 

May we all have a year filled with spiritual (as well as material) blessings!

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,

Danielle Altonaga