September 22, 2018

My Marriage Proposal Inside a Sukkah

I proposed to my wife inside a Sukkah- not a fancy Sukkah, not one filled with extravagance.  In fact, as Sukkot go, it was quite ordinary.

I was just out of training from medical school.  She was finishing up pharmacy school.  Together, we were worth a good negative half a million dollars!

At that time, I lived with my parents, so I asked them to go away for the weekend.  I set up the ambiance with music, food.  It was a beautiful day.

At the end of the meal, inside the Sukkah, I loosened up a basket of fruits hanging over her head, slowly lowered it to the table and suggested she take a fruit.  No, not that one… When she found the ring underneath the fruits, I got on my knees (hold the tears please) and proposed.

Friends laughed at me.  One had popped the question in the middle of skydiving and caught the footage on camera.  Another had proposed in the halftime of a Lakers game with the world famous cheerleaders dancing him on.  One friend recommended a Safari trip to Africa, while another boasted an orchestra at the tip of the Eifel Tower.

It’s now sixteen years, two girls, a boy, a dog, and four fish later.

We’ve had our shares of fun and challenges.  But each year, after we’ve forgiven each other for mischief, as we cry at the sound of the Shofar at the end of Yom Kippur services, we know, we both know- we may not have Paris, but we will always have God’s loving shelter above our head.

Our Sukkah is still humble.  Our children decorate the walls each year according to their age, from Sponge Bob to yes…Arianna Grande.

It dawned on me that when we build a ‪Sukkah we look like birds ‪nesting, laying one straw at a time on a temporary structure, with an ‪‎etrog that looks like an egg. We even baby the Etrog, pamper it so to support its neck from breaking!  The moment we are forgiven by our ‪Beloved, we can't contain our joy, our passion overflows and we run out into the world like fools in love and build a structure in which we can dwell. In‪ Song Of Songs we read “…I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother's house, to the room of the one who conceived me.”
 
In an age of financial glitz and glamour, we forget the true wealth of our tradition. An ephemeral structure takes me back to my high school in England, to my elementary school in Iran, to my grandmother’s dance in a small temple a mile away from her house, all the way back to the clouds that covered my ancestors as they treaded the desert sand.

And each time I find my children in the Sukkah, I see them getting married under a Chuppah, and imagine their unborn children in their smiles as they shake the Lulav.

To those who start their married life over the top, I say, you have plenty of time.  Start slow, and then reach for the stars together.  There is no jungle, no tower, no plane, and no structure more permanent than the Sukkah.