Neighborhoods in the Sky: Succot

Oct 10th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships
My wife and I turned onto 26th street, between 6th and 7th, the New York City area known as ‘The Plant District’, and strange things began to happen. Storeowners ran outside and began to pull their security gates down, closing their stores. Others were rushing to cover all the plants on the sidewalk with sheets and blankets. People were staring at us with hatred and fear. We could hear strangers whispering, “Killer!”

My wife’s reputation precedes her. People know what happens to plants in our home. The situation was ironic because we were looking for some artificial trees that could survive Debbie’s care. I don’t understand how these people, who live in a different borough, know something that took me twelve years to learn about my wife. This is New York City, not an enclosed neighborhood. We are becoming paranoid as we wonder whether everyone in Fieldston, or perhaps even all of Riverdale knows my wife’s secret identity as “The Killer” of plants. How does everyone in the plant district know our dark secret? (I readily admit that one of the main reasons for writing this blog is to preempt any blackmail attempts!)

Some friends tried to ease our paranoia by pointing out that the Plant District is a very specific neighborhood and its inhabitants are expected to identify and deal with all threats to houseplants in the city. They seem to be correct: six years ago, all of Riverdale knew that we were moving to another part of area. Then everyone knew when we bought a new car. People even knew when we had a rescued Beardie in our home for a few days. The Riverdale neighborhood specializes in certain types of information necessary for the locals, and is not interested in other information. They do not know about Debbie and plants.

So, I wondered, how does a Succah district/community work? Would all the Succah dwellers in Riverdale qualify as a unique district or neighborhood?

The Plant Killer and I decided to experiment. Whenever we overheard singing from a ‘neighborhood’ succah we attempted to join. The Succah directly behind us was not impressed, nor were the Succot to the north and south. It may have been my voice: I had bronchitis and sounded more like our dog, Pip, than festival singing. But it wasn’t that: We felt that we were singing with the Geiss family in Geneva, the Stepanskys in Tzefat, the Biels and Perels in St. Louis, the Fishers in Boca Raton, the Jaffes in LA, and the Goldbergers in Minneapolis. We were definitely part of a neighborhood; a neighborhood in the sky. We connected across times zones and oceans and shared our Succot joy with people, who like us, were searching for a very special Succah neighborhood.

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