Most meaningful marriages, family relationships, and close friendships involve arguments. Marriage researchers, Drs. John and Julie Gottman found that marital satisfaction does not depend on if the couple argues, but how they argue. Understandably, we have a tendency to focus on the issue at hand, such as, “I’ve already asked you so many times and you never do it.” This task-focused communication often comes easily because it hides our vulnerabilities. The external parts of the issue wall off whatever hurt we may be feeling and when we arm our defenses, the other person likely puts up their’s.
The alternative is to focus on the underlying feelings, such as, “I’m feeling ignored and unimportant because I’ve asked so many times and it’s not done.” If we are brave enough to communicate our emotions without walls, we offer the possibility for a more empathetic response. When presented with raw needs and feelings, the listener may see the person talking to them, not the problem being hurled at them.
On Succos, we leave the thick exteriors of our homes and enter a space of minimal protection. We lean into our vulnerability. And what do we find inside this exposed little hut? Life. Food, song and laughter. Connections and conversations. And of course, tension and arguments as well. Perhaps the Succah’s most simple message is this: When we’re willing to come out from behind our protective walls, we’ll discover deeper relationships, meaning, and joy. Succos is our time of greatest vulnerability and therefore, z’man simchasenu, our time of deepest happiness.