I am sure we have all experienced the packing-for-vacation saga. We pack so many clothes, planning exactly when and for what we use them.
We jam 12 shirts, seven pairs of pants, 15 pairs of shorts and, most importantly, eight pairs of shoes (hopefully all an exaggeration) for our five-day vacation. Then, we get everyone to sit on the suitcase, so we can close it, praying it is not overweight.
Finally, we are ready, excited and well prepared.
But the saga is not over. After our relaxing vacation, we must pack up again. This time, the feeling is totally different.
We open the drawers and see more than half of our clothing neatly folded, the same way it was when we originally put it in. They were never used! We look at the drawers, shaking our heads. What were we thinking? Why did we pack so much?
Once again, the same planning-and-packing happens. “This time will be different,” we say, and the vacation-packing saga continues.
Likewise, we all undertake a daily journey. Destination: life.
Are we properly packed and prepared?
As we exit the High Holy Days, we hope we have packed our belongings for the journey into the rest of the year. But have we really?
Which actions, outlooks, and thought processes are necessary for our growth? Which habits are growth hindrances? Are we packing our worn, wrinkled and comfortable items, or are we going to discard those and try a new look with a new set of carefully chosen garments? Is it not time for a wardrobe makeover?
Some of us never find the time to take inventory, but those who do are often creatures of habit. This year looks oddly familiar to last year, and the years before. We open our suitcases to find many of the contents have gone untouched.
We see all our unused baggage and shake our heads. What happened to all our good intentions from last year? What happened to that strong resolve? Why are we still carrying around the same burdens and empty resolutions?
The solution can be found in the way we pack for our journey through life. Instead of transferring our entire wardrobe, we need to select a few essentials that we’ll actually use. When we have grand plans to change everything, we usually end up changing nothing.
This is why we have the “sukkah solution” specifically at this time of year.
Sukkot is the time when we leave our sturdy and secure homes and dwell in a structure that is insubstantial and frail. No matter how elaborate our actual sukkah may be, there are obvious limitations to what we can bring. Most of our comforts must be left behind, so we must choose wisely, deciding what is truly indispensable and meaningful.
We need to separate all the gadgets that distract us daily and determine life’s essentials. Sukkot is an exercise timed to help us prioritize our life for the year. It teaches us what we need to properly pack so we don’t have many unused items. It is our reminder for the rest of the year of what is truly important. When we try to change too much, rarely do things get accomplished.
The beauty of Sukkot is that we leave our luxury, but still have meaning and enjoyment. We are forced to focus on what is most important to us in our lives: our families and friends, and our trust in G-d that He will always be there to protect us.
May we utilize the “Sukkah Solution” to see what is essential and important in our lives and carefully choose what we would like to resolve and change for this upcoming year.
(Rabbi Simcha Snaid is the spiritual leader of Anshei Sfard.)