First a little background: The Sukkah has to be covered by cut vegetation – called “Schach” – (that isn’t made yet into something specific). Most of our Sukkah is covered by bamboo mats which fit the halachic requirements for Sukkah cover and can be reused from year to year. But vibe and atmosphere is huge when it comes to Sukkah, so we do our best to try to get some nice lush cut evergreens to fill in spots and hang down into the Sukkah for some extra Sukkot vibe. It’s not the easiest thing to come across this stuff, and now and then we have a story and message from how we got the green Schach that year.
Here’s the Schach-getting story and message for 5782/2021:
Usually I start my Schach search a month before Sukkot or at least before Rosh Hashanah. We’re most interested in evergreen trees coming down anyways. But this year we fell behind, I was late, and starting making calls after Rosh Hashanah. But then one day later I get a text from a guy who is cutting evergreens the next day and if I come exactly when he’s cutting it, he’ll cut off as much as I can carry. But he can’t wait around because otherwise the trees get mulched and that process is much easier and quicker for him. I came by to check out the site in my minivan, the guy frowned, he said you can’t get much in there. And he wasn’t happy about me doing it in shifts, because once the tree comes down he wants to mulch it right up.
So I ran to rent a truck. I quickly got a box-truck at Home Depot (which thankfully had a back-up cam, what a relief, because this location required backing up in tight spaces) and rushed to pickup Isaac who volunteered to help me with this, and armed with some work-gloves we drove off to the site. And just in time! Because the tree was already coming down, and we worked really hard and fast to get as much loaded into the truck (some of these branches were quite long and very heavy) under the pressure of the moving crane and men in hard hats with chain saws, whom we wish would have cut off some of the heavier parts of the branches, but beggars can’t be choosers (though we did pay something for this Schach windfall).
BH we got what we could. A big 12′ box truck fully loaded with gorgeous Schach to enrich and enhance our Sukkot.
So why do I tell you this story?
This Shabbat is the 20th anniversary of 9-11. When people got up that morning, they thought it was just another regular September day. Instead, it turned out to be a day of tremendous devastation and loss. It was incredibly overwhelming, and in some ways and for some people it remains that overwhelming to this day. But even more people would have died if not for Rick Rescorla. Look up his story. He was a security consultant/manager at Morgan Stanley and because of his concerns of terrorism at the site, he insisted on regular evacuation drills that helped hundreds (even thousands!) of people, evacuate the towers on that fateful day.
It’s important to remember that overwhelming isn’t always about bad things, it can also be with an overabundance of good! The busy, hectic, non-stop Jewish holiday season is one example of that. It’s important that we create the vessels for all this spiritual light, find ways to personally absorb and internalize, expand our capabilities to be receptive to more of it.
Like the box truck! We need a box-truck on call, we need it on the ready. A windfall of Schach or other spiritual blessing may land our way. We need to be prepared and conditioned and available to accept it. We need the capacity: mentally, emotionally, even time on the calendar. Otherwise we run the risk of losing the opportunity.
This is true of the holidays, true of Jewish and other inspiration (you never know when it lands), or of many other opportunities in life. Prepare your box-truck!