Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Succos Case Files

Succos, the holiday, has several important components.

A. The Succah- meant to be built by the carpenter in the family, or if lacking that- the next best thing- whoever has a slight idea how to use power tools. In Israel- that would be the 9 year old boys, desperately trying to help their fathers and other assorted family members put the large wooden boards up (or just taking the power tools and doing it themselves).

B. The Decorations- usually created by young hands every year, and the best ones are painstakingly saved and laminateed by doting mothers, waiting to be hung up again. In Israel, this includes the white material- B'ad Lavan- used to line the walls of every wooden succah. Some of the American Israelis would actually prefer wood, but their Israeli kids are insistant.

C. The Schach- this is made easy in Israel. In the US, I spent my formative days trying to fling delicious smelling evergreen on the top of a very high succah. Here, just roll out the bamboo mat, and you're done. Or, get the fresh cut palm tree leaves, provided by the Iriah (city municipality).

D. The Arba Minim (four species)- This could use several paragraphs. Suffice it to say that a new baalas teshuva once walked into a Jewish bookstore before Succos- and was shocked to see all the men wearing mostly black, staring with jewelers' loops of every size at yellow fruit and green branches. She walked out- and called her rabbi. "You mean they do this every year?"

Here in Israel- the Arba Minim Shuks (markets) abound. The Badatz one is on Strauss near Geulah, and there are local ones in every neighborhood. Some will let you open packages, some sell pre-created sets, and others are for those looking for a 'metziah'- bargain.

Esrog Shopping is another idea- but here in Shmitta year, it becomes a whole different idea.
Mr. NMF went to an orchard- declared hefker (ownerless) for Shmitta year, and came home with four esrogim. Cool, no? (He did pay for the upkeep of the orchard by the Bais Din, which protected some of the esrogim from thorns).

And thus continues the ever-expanding case files of Succos.

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