I make a lot of money because I studied hard and learned a valuable task. A leads B and B leads to C. It’s all nice and neat and comforting. Work hard and I can get what I want.
But really, is the world that orderly? Does the hardest working or strongest or smartest always get the prize? There are many people who work hard at a job that is less valued in our society therefore earn a lesser salary. There are many strong people who never quite seem to find the right situation and flutter from job to job looking for that elusive break. And there are many smart people who are unable to find work that satisfies them, and they end up pontificating without an audience.
Survival of the fittest is not fool proof. At all.
But wouldn’t it be nice if the survival of the fittest was indeed a fool proof theory and always proved true. Wouldn’t any rational person do anything he/she could to make sure they fell into the category of fittest? And if for some reason he/she did not make it into the category of fittest, he/she would have to accept that they could not make the cut. They would deserve their lesser than circumstances.
However, anyone who has opened their eyes at all knows this is simply not the case. We’d like to come up with reasons as to explain others misfortune. We want answers. That’s the way we are built. He is struggling because he is not smart. She does not work hard and therefore is not successful. He does not eat right or exercise and therefore is not healthy.
Nothing random. Everything is explainable. Nice, neat, and clean. Simple actually.
But what if there were no answers? Or what if there were answers but they were indecipherable? Then what? How do we handle that? Shall we roll over, defeated, dejected, and disappointed?
This week my family and I have been hanging in the hut. The hut I am referring to has nothing to do with pizza (oh how I love pizza) and everything to do with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The holiday of Sukkot happens to be my favorite Jewish Holiday.
The holiday has an agricultural and historical component. We build a sukkah which is akin to the living quarters during the time of the wanderings in the desert. The sukkah, which is built outside, must sit underneath the open sky. “The walls can be made of any material, as long as they are secure and don’t flap about in the wind. The roof, however, (we call it s’chach), must be of unprocessed materials which have grown from the ground.”*
Over the course of the eight-day holiday, we are command to live in the sukkah and treat it as if it is our home. As with any law/rule – whether it’s of secular or religious nature, the rules of living in the sukkah are open to interpretation. At a minimum, people eat some meals there. Many people spend time or hang out in the sukkah – whether it be talking, reading, etc. Some people even sleep in the sukkah.
So, why do I like the holiday of Sukkot? Well, for one I like spending time outdoors. I like seeing the sky and the colorful leaves around me. I like the smells of nature and hearing the animal scurry about.
On a deeper level, I appreciate a lesson that is often spoken about when it comes to the holiday of Sukkot. Your house or normal dwelling is secure, and you are generally comfortable in it. However, a sukkah, by definition, is rickety and one good gust of wind could knock it over. When in a sukkah, it is easier to believe that there is a G-d who controls the universe. That thought is comforting – an all- knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving being is in control.
However, it is not as comfortable or clear as survival of the fittest. Instead, the happenings of the world often seem random and unpredictable. We are left unsure. The holiday of Sukkot is about accepting and embracing this uncertainty, and recognizing we are not masters of our own fate. Allowing for and accepting uncertainty can lead to a greater appreciation of life.
So, I’m going to hang out in the hut, strive to appreciate life, and enjoy the holiday of Sukkot.