“Don’t drop out of university,” I said to Gerri. “But it’s just too much,” she replied. “My life is terrible. I hate my parents. I’m behind on the rent. I can never seem to meet the right guy.” Gerri has been coming to my synagogue office to meet with me for a number of years. She often turns to the bottle to drown her sorrows. Why do some people have it made in life and others are stuck in a rut? It seems almost as if they are destined to live a sorry, difficult life.
If one wants to create a sukkah from a roof made up of wooden planks not yet plastered, he must loosen the planks or remove every other plank. Why can’t he just leave the ceiling as is? Thin wooden planks atop a building are, by definition, a sukkah!
The Torah states, “The festival of Sukkot, you shall make for yourselves for seven days,” meaning that we must actually “make” a sukkah, and not that we should merely walk into an already made sukkah. In order to fulfil the requirement of the mitzvah of Sukkot, we need to actively build a sukkah, not just passively sit in the sukkah.
Many people meander through life passively. Their lives are simply whatever was made for them. They were brought up a certain way, for better or for worse. They might passively accept the silver spoon in their mouths; they might curse their horrible upbringings. They end up in whatever jobs, whatever relationships. Their life is whatever it makes of itself.
Sukkot teaches us that we must not have an attitude that our life is ‘made’ for us; we must ‘make’ our lives! We have the power to determine our success! We choose our material lot in life. We choose our spiritual path in life. We choose our relationships. We are responsible for making it all happen!
Today, I pledge to take control of my life. The direction my life will take is not predetermined, it is not already made. My life is what I make of it. Even though life, like the sukkah, is fleeting, G-d wants me to build the most beautiful, amazing, awe-inspiring structure on earth.