Messages for Tishrei #2

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, October 7, 2022 / 12 Tishrei 5783

Summary: This year, I am changing the format of Oasis Songs for the month of Tishrei by focusing on a quote from a notable Jewish figure. Two years ago, Portland-based writer, David Biespiel, joined us via zoom for a program about his then-new book, A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas. The following lines come from that book and provide an appropriate jumping off spot as the holiday of Sukkot draws near. In a related vein, I will be sharing some of my sabbatical reflections about home at 12:30 on Tuesday, October 11th, after services. Here is the link with information and to make an RSVP.

Reading Time: One minute

“For many people…the question about where you are from begins with how people define home. One definition of home is, it’s a place you think you can always go back to because it’s as much a pushpin location on a map as it is embedded in your consciousness. The decision to leave home…perhaps indicates a breach between self and other, a fissure, a crevice. Where we are from is an opening inside us.

The objects inside a house, moveable as they are, are the telling expressions of what we think of as home, more than perhaps the structure of the houses themselves.” -David Biespiel

Sukkot began as a harvest festival during which our agrarian ancestors expressed gratitude for the gifts of the soil; in the face of exile, when we lost our land-based roots, it evolved into a sustained physical meditation on the meaning of home. The halakhic tradition states we are to take our nicest possessions out of our permanent home and place them in the Sukkah. Once or twice we did this, and I can attest that David Biespiel is correct about the role our moveable possessions play in our lives. They form or store part of our identity, which is why losing a valued possession can feel like such a blow. At the same time, as history’s oldest continuous diasporic or exilic people, Sukkot teaches us to be our own homes, to revel in fragility, and to embrace the natural world as our permanent ground. As we do so, we heal some of the crevices that exist between self and other.

Shabbat shalom,

Rav D

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