I don’t care what it’s called in your team’s home town. Fenway. The Jake. The Dome. Camden Yards. Or, properly, the Friendly Confines of Beautiful Wrigley Field. When summer has waned and the chill of autumn begins to fill the air, there is one place that the grass is still emerald green and the ivy is still in bloom. It’s the ballpark.
Baseball is not the sport of choice anymore. Soccer has more motion, football more excitement, basketball more height and hockey...well, more blood. But baseball still occupies a place in the American imagination that ties the generations to each other. Even in an era of free agency and purchased heroes, those nine guys still stand in the shoes of Ruth, Williams (Ted and Billy), Clemente and Koufax. In fact, you can still see guys with names like Alou and Bonds playing with all the heart their fathers had.
The times have changed a lot, the game has changed a little, but the place is the same.
The sukkah is a lot like the ballpark. When summer has waned and the chill of autumn begins to fill the air, there is one place that the memories are still fresh and green and the stars still shine through the foliage. Sitting in your sukkah may be the lowest-tech version of virtual reality you can find. And it may not even be as accurate a recreation as it purports to be: no bamboo grew in the Sinai and the nearest Home Depot was millennia away. But when you sit and eat, when you study, when you sleep there, you stand in the sandals of Moses, Judah (Maccabee and HaLevi), Solomon and Akiva.
Build a sukkah and you have built a time machine for yourself and your family. It can transport you to an ancient wilderness, a thriving Temple, a Polish shtetl or a modern Jewish city.
And in these occasional years when Sukkot occurs in mid-October, you can experience a rare delight. Take a bag of peanuts and your beer of choice – root or malt – and run an extension cord to the sukkah for your TV. With any luck, as you sit in the friendly confines of your own tabernacle, you’ll be watching the Chicago Cubs triumphant in their own friendly confines.
It just doesn’t get any better.