Picture in your mind’s eye a metal spring. Now picture the steel coil horizontal and resting on its side, and then imagine drawing two parallel lines, each one grazing the coil’s edges and extending left and right into infinity. This is how I picture the passage of Jewish time—and, no, I don’t mean running late.
Jewish time, as I view it, progresses while also ceaselessly rotating and realigning itself within the space delineated by those two parallel lines. At any given point in our year, we are both moving forward in time and, at the same time, arriving in the same spiritual space as that singular point in last year’s Jewish calendar. In this way, we not only experience each holiday but also re-experience it anew.
And at the exact moment of sunset, when we step into the holiday of Sukkot, we are not stepping in alone. We’re accompanied by our elders and our ancestors and all those who pass into these symbolic structures that provide a protective presence, a sanctuary, a place of grounding and gratitude, perspective and priority.
Ufros Aleinu Sukkat Shlomecha, we say. Spread over us Your shelter of peace.
At times, I struggle to understand it all, to comprehend to enormity of Creation and the complexity of life. And still, each year at Sukkot, sheltered within the simplest of structures, these moments line up, I note the passage of time and its folding back upon itself, and I connect again with my previous selves and beloved ancestors.