Today I built a Sukkah on the terrace of our apartment, on the 18th floor of a Manhattan building. The views from the terrace are stunning. Unfortunately, I’m afraid of heights. I still enjoy the views, but only from several feet behind the railing. I envy those guests who walk right up to the edge and lean over the railing. Actually, it makes me feel really uneasy.
Well, today things changed. You see, in order to put up the frame of the Sukkah, I needed to get right next to the railing. At first I was nervous, but as I focused on the work, instead of the drop, my fear began to dissipate. Once I put the canvas up, which blocked the view, I was fine. I could walk right up to the edge with not even a tinge of anxiety. The 18 story drop was still just inches in front of me, but because the canvas was preventing me from seeing it, I acted as though it was not even there.
The Hebrew word for world is “olam”, which also means “hidden”. God is “hidden” in the world. He is revealed only to those who actively seek him out. The rest see a world ruled only by the law of nature, where evil flourishes, and the powerful dominate the weak. Divine justice and judgment are hidden behind this “canvas”, allowing Man to act with free will. All we need to do is to peek behind the canvas to see the awesome truth. Most of us would rather continue living in our illusion of safety. It’s so easy to do just that. The Sukkah reminds us that that safety is really just an illusion, hiding the awesome truth.
May we be blessed with the clarity to see behind the canvas of our own Sukkah.