Succoth, the Festival of Booths is both a harvest festival and a season of joy.
The language in prayers during this holiday and year around regarding dwellings is as instructive as it is inspiring.
The commandment is to sit and take meals in a Succah (our door temporary dwelling, or booth). The roof of this edifice must be open so you can see the sun, moon, stars and sky through it. Basically, you leave the comforts of home to be able to see the heavens and be closer to the creation (sunshine, rain, wind, cold, warmth, etc.).
From Rosh Ha Shanah to Yom Kippur (the birthday of the world to the Day of Atonements) we expiate our sins to be closer to G-d.
During the season of joy we celebrate the fall harvest bounty in an abode where we can look up to the heavens and our Heavenly Father, and also directly feel the power and majesty of His creation.
Let's take a look at some of the language regarding homes in traditional prayers. It will provide both insight into the value of a home, and inspire us to make our homes all they can be all year long.
Happy are they who dwell in Thy house. Forever shall they praise thee.
Happy are the people whose G-d is the L-rd.
This refers to a Beit Ha Knesset (House of Assembly) or Congregation). However the home in which we live is also a site of many forms of prayer and other religious activity. What applies to one applies to the other.
I take from this that whether it is in a House of Worship, a residential home, or a temporary dwelling during Succoth part of the joy of home living is to make all who therein reside feel closer and uplifted by the Divine Presence, and its effect on all those who reside there live life most abundantly through a life of spiritual fulfillment.
How good are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling place oh Israel. As for me oh G-d abounding in grace, I enter your house in awe of your sacred place.
Once again, whether in a Congregation, home or temporary dwelling (Succah, apartment, shelter, residence etc.) it is the Divine Presence towards which we stand in awe that unites us, and brings out the best in us as we dwell together as family, friends, and community. Spiritual liberation leads to domestic and communal tranquility when we best practice our religious tradition.
Lay us down, Adonai our G-d in peace.
And raise us up our King to life renewed.
Succat Shlomechah, dwellings of peace are places where we can, as family, friends, and communities of every sort dwell in peace and renewal.
Using the very powerful motivations of life religious we look upward for peace and renewal.
A home, be it a Congregation, communal meeting place, residence or temporary dwelling should be a place where we can live in peace, love, harmony, trust, safety, security. A location where we can achieve our individual and collective potential.
This is the meaning of a home.
It isn't the building, or its material contents that matter.
It is the dwelling where we can find peace, love, harmony, support, safety, security, and unconditional acceptance to and from one another.
For those of us with a religious approach to life, we look to the Source of all such blessings as motivation for us to best serve Him by more effectively taking care of one another.
That is the difference between a home and a building. Not materiality, but peace and love.
Peace, and Abundant Blessings to Every Home, and All Who Dwell Therein.