Today starts the Jewish holiday Sukkot. The main purpose of this festival is to remind people of Exodus, the forty years that the Israelites have wandered through the desert, after they had escaped from Egypt where held as slaves, and before they could enter Israel. It is celebrated in the autumn because the crops are inside, and there is time for celebration. Thus, this holiday is also a feast of the harvest.
Festival huts that are build form the center of this festival. Such a hut is called a “Sukka”. During the wanderings through the desert the Israelites had to live in huts that had to be broken down quickly. The Sukka’s in this festival represent these huts. Therefore they are meant to be primitive: in the roofs ought to be a gap for instance, so that the Sukka is exposed to the sky. In this way they remind the Jewish believers that the people in the desert, searching for a safe place to live, trusted in God’s ability to lead them through the desert with all its perils.
What moves me in this festival is, that not only flesh-and-blood-guests are invited in the Sukka, but also seven special guests, the so called “ushpizin” (guests), all biblical forefathers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, and David. All these men underwent the experience of wandering. According to ancient kabbalistic tradition, each of these men is associated with one of the seven spiritual attributes of God, later on with seven of the Kabbalah’s sephirot. Pictures of these forefathers are hung on the walls of the Sukka.
Although it moves me that forefathers from way back are invited to teach us, I must say I dearly miss the foremothers in this ritual. “You will not be the first to miss them,” my husband said. Indeed I am not. Today many families and communities honour also biblical foremothers in their Sukka. This tradition is inspired by the rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud in Megillah 14a-b, who list seven biblical women who were prophetesses: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Hulda and Esther. And according to an ancient kabbalistic tradition, these women are also associated with the same seven attributes, and the same sephirot.
This week I invite the seven foremothers in my blog, each on one day, to teach me something.
Today Sara is invited, a picture of her hangs right here on my blog-wall. This fore-mother belongs to the virtue loving-kindness, and to Chesed on the Tree of Life. My tarot-question is: what can I learn from you, Sarah?
The card I have pulled as an answer to this question is the Knight of Cups, from the Tarot of 78 Doors. Watery Knights follow their dreams and are quite determined in that. The knight on this card will get wet following his dream by going through the waterfall. I cannot help thinking that his armour will get rusty if he keeps on going.
Sarah, for a long time, does not get what she wants most in life, what she dreams of: a child. She really sets her heart to that. In that process she becomes a bitter woman. She gets as rusty as the knight on the card. I do not like her, really not. I meet –like everyone- many women who are like Sarah, suffering women, bitter, disappointed in life, nagging and wailing. Sarah (through this knight) teaches me to have compassion with these women, to stand by their weeping, and to seek a living place in their hearts that will keep them alive.
This will prevent me from rusting too.