Filling in the Gaps
“Waiting for Godot” follows two days in the lives of a pair of men who divert themselves while they wait expectantly and in vain for someone named Godot to arrive. They claim him as an acquaintance but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognize him were they to see him. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide – anything “to hold the terrible silence at bay” (Wikipedia).
As often happens, I find myself waiting in line. Although a few days early, I feel as if it is Succot; a word (and structure) often associated with waiting:
“So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth (Genesis 33:16-17).” Jacob was waiting to see what Esau’s next step would be.
“Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city (Jonah 4:5).”
I am waiting to see whether we will be able to eat in the Succah or if the rain will prevent us from fulfilling the Mitzvah.
It is impossible to read about the agreement to trade 1,000 terrorists for Gilad Shalit without waiting for he actual exchange to take place, waiting to see what these soon to be freed convicted killers will next do, and thinking about the Shalit family’s five years of waiting for Gilad and his waiting for his freedom.
What does the Succah teach us about waiting?
Unlike the marriage Chuppah, which has a roof but no walls, the Succah has walls but an incomplete roof. The new couple experiences God’s Presence and must now go out into the world and build their home. They are facing the world. The Succah, however, does not focus us out into the world, but, up, toward God. Yonah could not observe Nineveh from his succah; he had to exit to see, hence, the need for the Kikayon to provide shade when he was outside his Succah. He was too upset with God to wait for God’s next step. When he stepped outside his succah to watch the dastardly city, and was overwhelmed by the heat, God miraculously provided for him.
Jacob built his succah, not to wait for Esau’s next step, but for a hint from God as to Jacob’s next step. He was waiting for Divine guidance.
We too “wait” in our Succah. We will address building the future outside he walls when we shake our Four Species out toward all directions. Our Succah sitting is to focus our attention up, toward Heaven, waiting for our response to God’s Presence in our lives. There are gaps in the s’chach, aka Clouds, open spaces that represent the areas in our lives where we do not yet perceive God’s Presence. We can stare at the open spaces and wait, but nothing will happen. The S’chach will not magically expand and cover the open spaces. Nothing is accomplished by our sitting and waiting for God to fill the gaps in our lives where we feel Him missing. Yes, we are waiting; waiting to see how we will choose to fill the gaps.
The “Four Species,” when pointed up, can be our tools to actively fill the gaps we experience when looking up toward Heaven. We can accept responsibility to fill in all the gaps that still remain after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Perhaps then we will experience the same sense of freedom that Gilad will hopefully taste in the next few days.
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