Ushpizin: The Surprise Sukkot Guest - Thursday, September 27

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 11:41am -- Rabbi Shalom Lewis

Rabbi Shalom LewisWe are all acquainted with the basic Sukkot traditions. The building of a sukkah and the taking up of a lulav and etrog. A lesser known ritual is Ushpizin. It is a kabbalistic creation from the Middle Ages when Biblical personalities are invited into the sukkah to mystically elevate the yuntif celebration.

The patriarchs, followed by Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David all visit on each night of the festival. Ushpizin means ‘guest’ and from this enshrined gesture of holy hospitality evolved the practice of inviting others symbolically into our sukkah. A deceased relative. A venerated president. An athlete. A famous actor or actress. Anyone of noble or of intriguing prominence. It’s fun to play the ‘Ushpizin game’ but I’d like to suggest a bit of a twist.

If asked who I would resurrect and invite into our sukkah my chosen guest would be rather unorthodox. Not a heroic individual but to the contrary. I would elect to bring back Adolph Hitler for an exercise in delicious vindication. I would yank that accursed soul from the grave and take him on a tour of Israel. I would show him the uncrushable spirit of the Jewish people. The Tel Aviv skyline. A Hebrew speaking military. World class universities. Museums. Restaurants. Entertainers. Nobel laureates. Fauda. A symphony. Drones. Satellites. A thriving economy. A peerless high-tech industry. I would show the fuhrer what he could not destroy and rub his phony Aryan nose in our glorious achievements despite the Holocaust. Despite the loss of six million. From Metulla to Eilat I would boast and brag and show off the miracle that is Israel and the Jewish people. I would sing Hatikva in his ear and then send him back to his place in Hell with the knowledge that he is dust, but we flourish. Perhaps after Hitler I’d host the Grand Mufti, Chmielniki, Ferdinand and Isabella, Martin Luther, the Crusaders, Muhammad, Titus, would be quite a crowd but worth the gloating effort.

What nosh would I provide my guests? I understand revenge is a dish best served cold.

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