Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 

The Sukkah Still Stands

by Rabbi Avi Shafran

There is simply no describing the plaintive, moving melody to which Yiddish writer Avraham Reisen’s poem was set. As a song, it is familiar to many of us who were introduced to it by immigrant parents or grandparents. And, remarkably, the strains of “A Sukkeleh,” no matter how often we may have heard them, still tend to choke us up.

Based on Reisen’s “In Sukkeh,” the song, whose popular title means “A Little Sukkah,” really concerns two sukkot, one literal, the other metaphorical, and the poem, though it was written at the beginning of the last century, remains tender, profound and timely.

Several years ago, thinking about the song, as so many invariably do every year this season, it occurred to me to try to render it into English for readers unfamiliar with either the song or the language in which it was written. I’m not a professional translator, and my rendering, below, is not perfectly literal. But it’s close, and is faithful to the rhyme scheme and meter of the original.

Here goes:

A sukkaleh, quite small,
Wooden planks for each wall;
Lovingly I stood them upright.
I laid thatch as a ceiling
And now, filled with deep feeling,
I sit in my sukkaleh at night.

A chill wind attacks,
Blowing through the cracks;
The candles, they flicker and yearn.
It’s so strange a thing
That as the Kiddush I sing,
The flames, calmed, now quietly burn.

In comes my daughter,
Bearing hot food and water;
Worry on her face like a pall.
She just stands there shaking
And, her voice nearly breaking,
Says “Tattenyu, the sukkah’s going to fall!”

Dear daughter, don’t fret;
It hasn’t fallen yet.
The sukkah’s fine; banish your fright.
There have been many such fears,
For nigh two thousand years;
Yet the sukkeleh's still standing upright.

As we approach the holiday of Sukkot and celebrate the divine protection our ancestors were afforded during their forty years’ wandering in the Sinai desert, we are supposed – indeed, commanded – to be happy. We refer to Sukkot, in our Amidah prayer, as “the time of our joy.”

And yet, at least seen superficially, Jewish joy seems misplaced and elusive these days. Jews are brazenly and cruelly murdered in our ancestral homeland, hated and attacked on the streets of not only European cities but places like Canada and Australia as well – and here in the United States, our numbers are falling to the internal adversaries of intermarriage and assimilation.

The poet, however, well captured a transcendent Sukkot-truth. With temperatures dropping and winter’s gloom not a great distance away, our sukkah-dwelling is indeed a quiet but powerful statement: We are secure, ultimately protected as a people, if not necessarily as individuals.

And the Jewish people’s security is sourced in nothing so flimsy as a fortified edifice; it is protection provided us by G-d Himself, in the merit of our forefathers, and of our own emulation of their dedication to the Divine.

So, no matter how loudly the winds and the tyrants may howl, no matter how vulnerable our physical fortresses may be, we give harbor to neither despair nor insecurity. No, instead we redouble our recognition that, in the end, G-d is in charge, that all is in His hands.

And that, as it has for millennia, the sukkah continues to stand.

Reprinted with permission from Am Echad Resources

 

ARTICLES ON EMOR AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Forty-Nine Days, Eleven Hours
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Son of a Gaon
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

An Elitest Nation?
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

ArtScroll

Why Can't I Play Ball Near the Cemetery?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

The Omer-Count: Power of Speech
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771

Oh, Is That the Reason Why?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

> Nonnegotiable Boundaries
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Have No Regrets
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Fresh Miracles or Stale Bread
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Looking for a Chavrusah?

From Emor to Omer
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Worthy of the Title “Holy”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

“Letter to my Son Akiva” (born 10 years ago, on Erev LAG B’OMER)
Jon Erlbaum - 5771

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Kiddush Hashem: The Great Sanctifiers
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Lag B'Omer & The Big Picture
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

The Secret of the Survival of the Jewish People as the Chosen
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5772

Give Me Liberty
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information