The first day of Sukkos has ended here, in the Land of Israel [Monday, October 10, 2022.] Thanks so much to Sarah Law, Editor-in-chief at Amethyst Review, for publishing my poem, “The Feast of Booths.”
Lost in a worry of wilted willows,Gershon Ben-avraham, “Lost in a Worry of Willows, Amethyst Review
he sat, perched on the edge of a park bench,
leaning forward, hands crossed, lying lightly
upon the curved polished head of his cane.
Sukkos, a seven-day festival, is my favorite holiday. The first day is observed in Israel as a whole festival; the first two days are kept as full festival days in the Diaspora. The laws are similar to the Sabbath with two notable exceptions, carrying things outside the home and food preparation. We recite special prayers and enjoy festive meals in our Sukkah, a booth we build. Ours is in our backyard.
I enjoy the holiday’s physicality and sensuality if you will. We eat all our meals in our Sukkah, read, and study there. Some sleep in their Sukkah. I follow Chabad customs, and it is not Chabad’s custom to sleep in the Sukkah.
Part of the sensuality of the holiday is tied to the use of the Four Species: an esrog (citron), palm, myrtle, and willow. Every year, I worry about my willow branches. Will they last until the end of the holiday? What if they don’t? The man in my poem shares his worry with us and his memory of what he learned from a teacher many years ago.
All the best,