Saturday, October 18, 2008

When a tree hut is not a sukkah

After the exodus from Egypt, during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the Jewish people were surrounded by protective "clouds of glory" [which is a term from rabbinic literature and not exactly from the Bible]. In Jewish tradition shade primarily represents God's protection, in relation to the symbolism of the clouds of glory. Shade and shadows are associated with the fleeting, the ephemeral (as our human life is, and especially Jewish life).
The essence of the sukkah, for the rabbis, lies in the special thatched roofing, the skhakh, and the shade it gives.
According to halakha (Jewish law), this skhakh must provide more shade than sun but must not block out the stars. It must come from plants that grew out of the ground but that are no longer attached to the ground.
A kosher roof can be bamboo or reed mats or wooden slats covered by palm fronds or other branches.
The photo shows some klutz-proof, easy to carry and put up, sukkah roof kits on sale just outside Jerusalem's Shuk Machaneh Yehuda. Oh, and some colored tinsel to decorate your sukkah, too.


And as luck and good timing would have it, New York's Madison Square Park has just had a dozen of its trees decorated with TREE HUTS, pinewood tree houses perched 30 feet up in the branches! The installation is being built under the direction of Japanese conceptual artist Tadashi Kawamata.
More information and real photos at the fine Daily Dose of Architecture blog. Or enjoy the Tree Huts blog.

Even if they got the skhakh right, I'm afraid these tree huts could not be counted as kosher sukkot. Why? Because nothing, not even a tree (or an overhanging balcony), may come between the sukkah and the sky. If a sukkah is built on the very TOP of a tree, then it is valid. Maybe not so safe, but kosher. . . .
Artist's sketch, from the Tree Hut blog 
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6 comments:

Reader Wil said...

Again something I didn't know! I find this very interesting. mThank you for this information.

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

again, another interesting read
i would love a little tree house for my kids, but i have no idea how to build one...

Rambling Woods said...

I am catching up and as always I learn something new Dina...

Webradio said...

Hello Dina !
Great lesson of the History of the Jewish people...

I like read Your blog because il learn a lot of things about traditions (coutumes...) of Israƫl...
Thank You Dina !

Dina said...

Thanks Wil, Rambling Woods, Webradio. So glad you like to learn. Me too.

Kiwi, I have no idea either, how to build a tree house. Never even been in one. What's nice about these Tree Huts in New York is they don't injure the trees. No nails and lots of rubber padding.

Kay said...

Hmmm....tree huts? That would be interesting in Skokie.