Lessons of the Succah or Why I'm Not A Tzaddik
I slept in the Succah with my grandfather zt”l and was determined to stay up and learn as long as he was awake. After all, how could I possibly become like him if I didn’t study as assiduously?
It actually wasn’t that difficult because I was reading a set of books about the Chofetz Chaim. I was enthralled and when I eventually fell asleep I dreamt of growing up to be the next Chofetz Chaim. I woke up determined to never again speak a word of Lishon Harah – destructive speech. I calmly reported my new mission in life to my father at the festival meal, and he was supportive of the general idea, although he suggested that perhaps I begin with smaller steps. “But then I won’t be the Chofetz Chaim. He started with giant steps!”
“First of all, I’m not sure that is true. Second of all, why do you want to be a Tzaddik like someone else? Be a Tzaddik as you.” OK, he was right, but still, I wanted to tackle the Lishon Harah issue. My sister carefully listened to the conversation and calmly predicted that my life as a Tzaddik would not last the day!
She did whatever she could to provoke me. I refused to respond. “Hey! Maybe this Tzaddik thing is not as hard as they say.” So, although she continues to deny her evil deeds more than forty years later, she kicked me. I cried. Our older sister, a true Tzaddeiket, came running asking, “What happened?” “She kicked me!”
There went my Tzaddik plans. “You spoke Lishon Harah!” she said as she calmly walked away. Not even a day, and there were holes in my armor.
Why am I not a Tzaddik? It’s my sister’s fault.
I believed as a child, as do many people, even adults, that a Tzaddik had to be perfect. But it’s not true. Simply look up at the roof of your Succah and you will see holes throughout the S’chach. The Succah is an imperfect structure and yet it is holy. Even holy people have gaps in their spiritual armor, and they are still holy.
So, why am I not a Tzaddik? Because I continue to struggle to accept the gaps in the S’chach and the giant holes in my armor. Hopefully, this year, the Succah will finally get its message through my head.
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