A succah for DIY
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 succah 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 when an upright fell and hit me in the tabernacles) I’ve finally succeeded and am jolly pleased with myself. How good are my tents, eh Jacob? Huh?
One of the many mysteries of the festival is how sections of the succah I’ve used in previous years miraculously don’t fit properly without having to chop, shave, saw and jam them into place. I suspect that while it rests in the shed over the 12 months since the previous time I put it together, it grows extra bits.
That aside, I must say these prefabricated steel and MDF succahs are marvellous. 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 the 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 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 I think that 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 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, Succot 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), and I will have probably spent no more than 45 minutes in the succah all week. Which is just as well because one of the walls has just collapsed.