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    Is the sukkah safe?

    “Is it safe in the sukkah?”

    Sukkah meal, by Bernard Picart, 1722

    It seems like a perfectly valid question. People have locks on their doors and bars on their windows, back-to-base systems and even security staff. But even this is not fool-proof, and break-ins and robberies still occur.

    Yet who has ever heard of securing a sukkah?

    Most families have their sukkah in the garden, sometimes attached to the house, sometimes free-standing. Does even one family have a back-to-base alarm for their sukkah?

    True, valuables are usually not left in the sukkah at night – but are human beings not valuable? Are they not at risk when they sit, eat, study, sing and sometimes even sleep in the sukkah? How come they feel safe?

    The question could have been asked even when the Israelites lived in sukkot in the wilderness. Were they not afraid of enemies, burglars or beasts? Yet there is no reference in the Torah to security precautions.

    You see, there was such a thing as Divine providence, and that is what made them feel safe. So axiomatic was this notion that the prophet said that in the messianic age everyone would “sit under their vine or fig tree with none to make them afraid” (Micah 4:4).

    Between the sukkot in the wilderness and the messianic fulfillment stretch long centuries when Jews generally lived in fragile conditions with hostility all around them.

    Yet as far as we know they never failed to open the door for Elijah on Pesach, trusting that this was leil shimmurim, “a night of Divine watchfulness” (Ex. 12:42); nor were they too afraid to build sukkot and sit there serenely.

    The Jewish way is to trust in God: taking prudent precautions, yes, but never abandoning our confidence that “He who dwells in the protection of the Most High abides in the shade of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

    Our dream is, however, to be able to trust human beings as implicitly as we trust God. That requires faith in the essential goodness of human beings and their moral teachability. It means not regarding the other person as a potential enemy but as a potential friend.

    Some will let us down, but because one person is a disappointment is that a reason to give up on the whole human race?

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