Sukkot. This year finds me less motivated than in the past. I feel worn out, disappointed with the experience of my shul, maybe down a few rungs on the ladder of observance from a year or two ago. I bentsched lulav on Day 4 of 7. Our sukkah came out well, definitely worth the purchase of a pre-fab. Bringing a harvest to Jerusalem in Temple times may have been the precursor of what we think of as vacation. Getting away for a few days, maybe a little travel, getting deprived of some of your money in exchange for some satisfaction. Not having to go to work but only a half day in shul without all the shabbos restrictions of the other days off. Here it takes on something similar with anticipation and preparation to build the sukkah and acquire Four Species. Between Bond Appeal and synagogue appeal the week before some of one's funds have already been reduced. No tfillin the entire week. I must say, though, waving the lulav never really inspired me in a serious way and the final day of Hoshana Rabba I've always regarded as cult-like. It rarely comes out late enough in October to usher in the changing weather and changing clocks of autumn.
For the students it introduces exam season. They've attended classes for 4-6 weeks most years and therefore it's time to assess what has been retained. For Federal workers Columbus Day provides a real day off. For many of us we encounter Open Season when we can adjust our employee benefits. Those things often pre-occupy us, making the festival of Sukkot almost an afterthought were it not for the necessary preparation beforehand and the more gala Simchat Torah night to follow.
For me, the season also marks the approximate mid-point of my six semiannual projects. I took Board exams, made slow but serious progress on making the bedroom my sanctuary, have not yet made the blog interactive, not done any estate planning, my skill with the iPod has not advanced in three months and my weight is up a few pounds from July. My disposition has gotten a little better though.