Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sukkot Joy

Sukkot Joy! Brought a Pumpkin Challah for the feast,  in time for Erev Succot in Tokyo!
Photo and photo aboveーshofar and full moon--- and below--warm welcome-- by Tehilla♡


On the second day, the heads of the families along with the kohanim and the Levites gathered around Ezra to ponder the words of the Torah.  They found written in the Torah that ADONAI had commanded through Moses that Bnei-Yisrael should dwell in a sukkot during the feast of the seventh month.  So that they should proclaim and spread this message in all their towns and in Jerusalem saying, "Go out to the hill country and bring olive branches and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches and branches of other leafy trees to make sukkot, just as it is written."  So the people went out and brought branches, and made sukkot for themselves, each on their own roof, in their courtyards, in the courtyards of the House of God, in the plaza before the Water Gate and in the plaza of the Ephraim Gate.   The entire assembly who had returned from the captivity made sukkot and dwelt in the sukkot.  Since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day Bnei-Yisrael had not done so-- and the joy was very great.

Nehemiah 8:13~17 TLV (Tree of Life Version)

This passage from the book of Nehemiah is close to how I felt this year celebrating Succot for the first time after many years.  Like the 'entire assembly who had returned from the captivity' (line 17), I too had returned from `captivity`!  In this case captivity for me refers to the long period of my life, probably 40 years to be exact, when I was living in separation from God.

And like Joshua and the children of Israel, I too had not done so--i.e., I had not made or celebrated or dwelt in the sukkot, for many years.  I celebrated this special holiday--- which is all about dwelling with God --- with my new congregation in a succa on a rooftop in Tokyo!!

It was a trip through the clouds to get there!
I got to Tokyo and to the rooftop just in time to decorate.  The others from the congregation  brought branches from leafy trees to make the succa just as it is written!! (verse 15, above).  Though the branches were not from the hill country but rather from a congregation member's garden in Tokyo.   Plus we also added other decorations and origami leaves.

The entire congregation had plans to sleep in the succa on the seventh day, but since I was only in Tokyo for one night I determined to sleep in it that first night .  One other congregation member joined.  We dwelled and slept there, looking up as God moved the clouds and stars and moon across the vast expanse of sky.  Indeed being in the succa with the roof open to the sky gives us a sense of being closer to heaven, of God being close to us, and of the great joy it is to dwell with our Creator!!

It began to rain at 3 AM so we went in for the rest of the night.  Then on the eighth day of the holiday, according to the regulation, there was a solemn assembly (continue in Nehemiah 8:18).
And a dance to ADONAI before saying goodbye to the succa and flying through the clouds again as the Torah was scrolled back to the beginning...

Kabosu (from Oita to be used in the place of an etrog!) on the rooftop, with Tokyo Sky Tree in the distance
The moon through origami leaves

Challah by Sara-san, Kabosu from Oita

Futons readied for sleeping in the succa

And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.  We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.      ---John 1: 14

 "My dwelling-place will be over them.  I will be their God and they will be My people.   Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever."     ---Ezekiel 38: 27〜28

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