July 21, 2024
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July 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As the shofar of Yom Kippur sounded and people immediately checked their watches, annoyed at how long davening was this year, the High Holidays officially came to a close. Even once Neilah ended, you were not done yet, because there was the obligatory round of dancing around the bimah as you thought about what kind of bagel you were having. That, of course, was followed by a breakaway Maariv, which finally brought the long day of davening to a close. But wait…there was also Kiddush Levana, which is always the hardest Kiddush Levana of the year to turn down. The only excuse you have is if you pretend you’re rushing home to start working on your sukkah. Some people use that line all year round: “I can’t stay for Kiddush Levana, I gotta get to my sukkah.”

“But it’s March.” “Yeah, I gotta go take it down.”

Now that the High Holidays are really, truly behind us, it is time to transition from the Days of Awe to the Days That Are Kinda Hard To Explain To Your Boss Why You Missed Work.

Building a sukkah is one of those mitzvos designed to keep us humble. The angels are probably asking God, “What if the now-sinless Jews get too arrogant after Yom Kippur?” God’s response? “Don’t worry, this week, I got ‘em carrying trees in plastic bags and building huts in the driveway.”

Sukkahs are so hard to construct in just a few days. That’s probably why they can have fewer than four walls; you only need two point five walls. It’s easier when anything can become a wall.

“So where’s your third wall?”

“You see that garbage can on fire next to that spare tire? That’s 10 tefachim.”

Some people get a little too lenient with their sukkah walls, though. “Hey, I only count two walls here.”

“Scoot your chair over a bit… alright, a little more. You’re the third wall now. You’re also muktzah.”

After you finally get the sukkah put up, you have to decorate it, apparently. Most people put up their kids’ projects, pictures of rabbis and other assorted Judaica. Others seem like they’re barely even trying and just have random posters that don’t really have any connection to Judaism at all.  

“Why do you have a ‘Free Willy’ poster in here? Is it to represent the Leviathan?”

“Yeah… that’s what I was going for.”

“What about the Space Jam one?”

“I just really like 90s movies.”

The whole holiday of Sukkos feels like it’s supposed to make you stand out as a Jew, even more than normal. Try flying erev Yom Tov and carrying a lulav and esrog through the airport. The gate agents will ask, “What is that?”

“Uh…it’s a…. religious tree.”

“Do you plant it?”

“No, you idiot. You shake it.”

People spend hours searching for the right lulav and esrog, even though the only real difference is price. Maybe they’re just looking to get out of the house to avoid helping before yom tov. They diligently search for the “best” lulav and esrog, but no matter what, aravos only last for two days. Unless you wrap them in a damp paper towel, tin foil and water them twice a day. Then they last for three days.

Really frum people inspect lulavim and esrogim like they’re detectives at a crime scene, with a magnifying glass and special gloves, studying every mark and blemish. “These aravos didn’t die; they were murdered.”

Eating in the sukkah is a challenge. There are only two real conversations that happen during a Sukkos meal: arguing about what’s an appropriate amount of rain to allow you to go inside and arguing with that frum cousin about how you’re actually allowed to trap bees on Yom Tov because of Zika. Men are supposed to eat in a sukkah unless it’s raining or they’re eating a “snack.” Foods that are shehakol are also okay to eat outside a sukkah, which is great when you want to snack on a steak. There is also a debate about whether you eat in a sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. I’m pretty sure the only people eating in a sukkah on Simchas Torah are those who are so drunk that they don’t even notice they’re eating outside.

Simchas Torah is probably the only time of year when rabbis are not only not against kiddush clubs, but feel they are mandatory. I guess they understand that after Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Hoshana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres, the only way to get people to stay for another six hour davening is to offer alcohol.

On Simchas Torah, all the men need to get aliyahs, so davening is extra long. The minyan often breaks away into smaller minynanim to try and make the aliyahs go faster. Some people try the supermarket checkout line trick of switching halfway to a smaller group or a group with a faster leiner. But there’s still always a bunch of people waiting for an aliyah. Being a Kohen or Levi, though, is like having TSA Precheck; you’re escorted to the front even if you just got to shul ten minutes ago.

Hakafos dancing is a lot like wedding dancing, but somehow even more awkward. On Simchas Torah, we’re celebrating completing the Torah, even though most of us didn’t really do anything. It was really just the rabbi, the gabbai and the baal koreh. Pretty much everyone else was sleeping or at kiddush club. But I guess with that logic, most of us can’t go to the Siyum HaShas either. Most shuls host a big Simchas Torah meal because they know that after this long month of shul, many people won’t be back until Pesach.

Eli Lebowicz is a standup comedian that performs at many Jewish events.

Email and Website: [email protected]
and EliComedy.com

By Eli Lebowicz and Elisha Wiesel

 Elisha Wiesel is a comedy writer and performs standup comedy around New York City. Email: [email protected]


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