December 14, 2009

I’m sitting at my laptop wrapped in a warm glow of smug satisfaction, which is just as well because it’s cold and miserable out in the sukkah I have just put up.  It’s taken the best part of a frustrating day to complete but after several false starts (and one injury where an upright fell and hit me in the tabernacles) I finally succeeded and am jolly pleased with myself.  How good are my tents, oh Jacob?  Huh?

One of the many mysteries of Sukkot is how sections I’ve used in previous years miraculously don’t fit properly without having to chop, shave, saw and jam them into place.  During the year, while it’s sitting in the shed, I suspect it grows extra bits.   That aside, I must say these pre-fabricated steel and MDF sukkahs are marvelous.  I’d hate to have to design and build one from scratch using random pieces of wood, that’s for sure.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised at my success.  While we Jews are not thought of as particularly handy when it comes to construction, the temporary booth is our speciality.   During the war, my great uncle, a cabinet maker, was sent to build a barracks.  Clearly the army was not fully aware of difference between a sideboard and a hostel.  Nevertheless, Uncle Joe did his best and was commended for his work.  The only negative feedback he received was for the leaky roof and his reluctance to use more than two and a half walls. On the plus side, they loved his inlay work.

This year I am the proud owner of a deluxe etrog. While in every other area of Jewish law something is either kosher or not kosher, when it comes to etrogs some are evidently more kosher than others.  I wish you could see mine.  It is so beautiful you would be struck dumb and your eyes would pop out on their stalks as you jealously salivate over it.  You can be forgiven for assuming that I’m talking about a supermodel rather than a piece of inedible fruit, but agreeing to pay several pounds more for this item than for another because someone had graded it as “exquisite” has adulterated my mind.  Only yesterday I voluntarily offered an additional £8 for some particularly shapely apples at the supermarket.

So, as I gaze at the walls decorated with the deteriorating artworks of lulavs, etrogs and horses created by my daughter (she must have been into horses at the time), of one thing I am confident:  by the time you read this Sukkot will be over, the etrog will be sitting forlornly while someone decides what to do with it (you can’t just sling a £25 piece of fruit in the recycling bin, after all) and I will have probably spent no more than 45 minutes in the sukkah all week.