Ushpizin Seder: Constructing a Sukkah of Shalom
We invite Elijah to help us construct our Sukkah of Shalom. The moment the Day of Atonement ended we began the joyous task of making our list of those we are inviting to our Sukkah of Shalom. Traditionally we invite the patriarchs; along with Joseph Moses, Aaron, and David, a most worthy list. I would add Joshua, Samuel, Nathan, and those on the short list of righteous Kings of Judea and Israel. Isaiah has a seat of honor in my Sukkah of Shalom, along with Ezekiel and Zechariah. Hillel and Shammai are honored guest along with Rabban Gamaliel, Rashi, Rambam, and Ramban. Our list also includes The Baal Shem Tov and Rebbe Shlomo and Rebbe Zalman.
Why limit our list to “our People”? I would love to break bread with Lao Tzu and The Buddha, with Jesus, and Muhammad, of blessed memories. This is a Sukkah of Peace where we seek the wise counsel of all our great teachers. Our list is not limited to the famous but excludes the infamous. No Sukkah could ever be constructed that could contain the vast number of tyrants of history.
The sanctification of time happens after focused preparation. We are able to fulfill the teachings of Sukkah after we identify our heroes and teachers. They must all be invited.
Do not forget the thirty six hidden righteous Ushpizin that may visit in person. By their merit the world continues to exist. Do not forget the homeless, or women in shelters, or you will forget why you are commanded to live in a temporary shelter for a full week.
Do not forget to invite the Ushpizot: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, Miriam, Hannah, and Esther. Invite Deborah, and Ruth, and Brururia, along with The Holy One Blessed be She.
Remember it is not enough to repeat rituals again and again, year in and year out, without pouring your spirit into the act. Be bold. This year invite your parents, grandparents, great grandparents and their parents to your Sukkah. What are the patterns of your family? Where have you been and where are you going?
When we return to our homes after dwelling in our Sukkah for one full week we say the following prayer:
May it be thy will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors that as I have fulfilled Thy teaching to dwell in the Sukkah, so in the future I merit to dwell in the Sukkah of the Leviathan.
The Sukkah of Shalom is constructed according to the instructions of Elijah. Elijah is the forerunner and announcer of the messiah. This task is far more difficult than the battle against Baal remembered at the end of The Day of Atonement. Who will accept his choice? Is this the first or second coming? What if the messiah is in the image of The Shechina? Who says now is the time? Is today the very last day? Or did the Messiah come yesterday? Many teach that the Messiah is no longer necessary.
Is the Messiah a teacher or an era? If an era, who will lead us into that era?
Many quote my Rebbe (Franz Amschel) and his enigma that the Messiah will come only on the day after his arrival, when no longer necessary. This echoes the Rabbinic teaching that The Messiah comes when we deserve. On the other hand the Rabbis also dream of Messiah as a leader who leads us out of the wilderness of war and strife. My Rebbe also teaches that the graves will open when freedom reigns and The Ten Truths are resurrected. The Messiah ignites this spark in every individual.
The hope of a perfected world is the prophetic dream of our people. This hope is summed up in every prayer when we ask God to bless us with Peace.
The Final Seder is a wonderful meal where all the righteous will feast on
Leviathan. The most difficult questions are asked and answered at this Seder.
Modern day Jonahs, we are swallowed whole by totalitarian states that legislate against individualism. Behemoth religious organizations add to the agony when they do not practice Tikkun Olam.
O Lord Spread over us your Sukkah of Shalom, stretched out from the skin of Leviathan.
Elijah: O beloved children, sisters and brothers, welcome to our Sukkah. First we invite all who are hungry, as we do on Passover. All who are in need are the first invited guests to this Sukkah. Now we are here, in our holy home. Next year we will make real the vision of all land as holy. This year we are still slaves to antiquated beliefs. Next year we will be free warfare and strife.
First leader: For over forty days we have recited Psalm 27.
One thing we ask before we begin, that a canopy of Peace be spread over the world, and, encircled by this majestic glory we come to understand all that is holy. Thy presence, O Lord, we seek. Our hope is real that all nations will decide to beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks when nation will not lift up sword against nation and will not learn war any more.
Elijah: For this reason I invite first all the teachers of Peace to this Sukkah.
I invite these sublime guests this evening to our Sukkah: Enter Holy guests from on high: Mother Teresa, who taught us to redefine the circle of our families to include all people. I invite Martin Luther King who taught that equality is achieved by non violence and that all are truly created equal. I invite Abraham Joshua Heschel and family who keep the prophetic voice alive and demand that this and every ritual be done with inwardness and vision. We invite Rebbe Reb Zalman Schechter-Shaolmi who opens the door to renewal and to Rebbe Reb Shlomo Carlbach who gave voice to loving-kindness and taught us how to pray and sing. We invite the Dalai Lama to our Sukkah, to teach chanting for Peace and an end to every exile.
We pray for Peace for his people, and an end to their Diaspora, speedily in our time.
Finally I invite Shechinah to our Sukkah before her return to her Temple in Jerusalem to teach the Torah from Zion.
Second leader: Raise high these roof beams, carpenters for we invite our patriarchs and matriarchs and all the holy souls of our noble lineage from past to present and present to past.
Enter our Sukkah sublime and holy parents and grandparents; enter with our ancestors Abraham Isaac and Jacob, Joseph Moses and Aaron and David. Enter Nathan and Isaiah and Ezekiel, Jonah and Zechariah. Enter Sarah Rebecca Rachel and Leah, Miriam Hannah and Esther. Enter Ima Shalom and Emma Lazarus, and enter meshecha.
Third leader: We invite you all this evening and every evening to dwell in our Sukkah of shalom.
An Ushpizin symposium; how we get to Simchat Torah
Elijah: Welcome, Welcome. You are all honored guests who come in the in the name of God who is Lord. All that quest for wisdom we invite to this seder.
All: Baruch haba Rebbe
Elijah: I am delighted to be called Rabbi. I thank you for waiting, for your patience know that for many generations you have asked that I come speedily to announce the final age and redemption
First I announce the path for individuals and families. Order the chaos of life into holiness. Begin with the Seder of Shabbat. The Sabbath has always been a gift that is a foretaste of the world to come. Rejoice in the sanctification of time by observing the holydays of the Torah, which are a path to God. Emulate the God of creation.
We learn that all of creation is “very good” in the weekly study of the Torah portion. We sit at the feet of the prophets when we learn the weekly prophetic reading that defines the Torah reading. We hear Isaiah reminding us that all people from every nation will one day worship together on every New Moon and Sabbath.
Then fundamentalists will again learn fundamentals and the mystery on the Mountain will be mastered on the Plains. The gold of every calf and cow and shrine will be melted down into gifts to be given to the poor. Then the final dance around the mountain will begin.
Atonement, and peace, then joy, like the oceans, will cover the earth. Amen. Sealah.