May 27, 2024
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May 27, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

On Sukkot, Jews are supposed to eat in a little hut known as a sukkah. It’s not a cabana, teepee or tent. It’s also not an igloo, yurt, wikiup or tupik. It is something special and is subject to a somewhat particular set of rules.

The sukkah is not supposed to be, and in fact is not allowed to be, a permanent structure. A sukkah is not the only thing in life that is temporary. Temporary also describes patience, gratitude and fame and, in the criminal defense context, insanity.

A sukkah must have a roof made out of schach, which must be made using natural material from the ground. Another rule for the schach roof is that those inside the sukkah should be able to peer through the schach to see the stars. That does not mean that you should build your sukkah (i) in Los Angeles on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, (ii) on the set of ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” or “Battle of the Network Stars” or (iii) next to a drive-in movie theatre featuring “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” or “A Star is Born.” To be sure, on Sukkot the concept of seeing stars pertains to celestials, not celebrities. In addition, getting knocked out in your sukkah by former pugilist Mike Tyson to the point of “seeing stars” also does not count.

Thus, a kosher schach roof is not hermetically-sealed, water-proof or even water resistant. In fact, according to some scholars, if the schach is so thick that rain cannot penetrate the sukkah, then it is not kosher. One indication of this rule is found in the Talmud, which states that a person may leave the sukkah if enough rain is falling to spoil the food. That rule would not be necessary if water-proof schach became permissible. Elsewhere it is stated that rain on Sukkot can be a bad omen. Of course, there are worse times to experience rain like when it rains on a vacation, on your parade or on your new suede shoes. (Or when you are carrying Gremlins.)

In Helsingborg, Sweden there is a museum called the “Museum of Failure” with exhibits of inventions that over time ultimately failed, often miserably, like New Coke, Harley-Davidson Cologne and Sony Betamax. Purely from an engineering perspective, the schach roof of a sukkah could be an exhibit in such a museum because a leaky roof normally would be deemed unfit for use and thus a total failure, unless it was built in Chelm. For this reason, the leakiness requirement for a schach roof is somewhat counterintuitive, at least from the perspective of your average architect. Of course, for those who make Swiss cheese, a hole-filled design might make more sense. To the average person, however, a roof that is designed to leak makes about as much sense as:

  1.  Perforated submarine—soon to be metallic coral reef
  2.  Cageless zoo—in other words, a jungle
  3.  Glass-less backboard—layups not recommended
  4.  Sidewalk made out of quicksand—watch your step, it may be your last
  5.  Lockless front-door—A burglar’s reaction: “At least make it a challenge for me.”
  6.  Door-less safe—so, basically, a display case
  7. Cordless cord—so, in other words, nothing?
  8.  A fraction without a vinculum—vertical numbers
  9.  Siddur holster—for davening at high noon
  10.  Gefilte Challah—as un-tasty and unpopular as it sounds
  11.  In-class recess—epitome of a buzzkill
  12.  A 4-wheeled motorcycle—also known as a car
  13.  Contact lenses with frames—your optometrist should be imprisoned
  14.  Edible braces—a/k/a breakfast
  15.  Edible handkerchief—please eat before using
  16.  Wingless airplane—pretty sure that’s a missile
  17.  A stand-alone townhouse—I believe that makes it a house
  18.  Sodium-free salt—“Please pass the chloride.”
  19.  Breadless sandwich—talk about missing the point!
  20.  Scent-free incense—mist
  21.  Premium melted ice—(H2)Oh my!
  22.  Sub-zero sauna—a spa for polar bears?
  23.  Invisible toilet—that is just asking for trouble
  24.  Non-drowsy sleeping pill—placebo
  25.  Non-alcoholic wine—“Would you care for some more grape juice?”
  26.  Junior congregation for adults—Not as crazy as it sounds
  27.  A museum of museums—it’s so insane that it just might work
  28.  A legless stand-up comedian—stop thinking so literally
  29.  A working vacation—which usually turns out to be neither productive nor relaxing
  30.  A funeral party—just how despised was the deceased?

Final thought: A fiddler on the roof is fine but a fiddler on the roof of a sukkah is a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

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