Dear Readers,

When we moved recently to Upstate New York, we hadn’t realized to what extent we would be surrounded by stunning scenery and luscious landscapes. Driving to an errand now often includes passing through miles of streams on scenic routes overlooking stately mountains. Just a stone’s throw from our home, Harriman State Park, the second-largest in the park system, has 31 lakes and reservoirs and 200 miles of hiking trails.

Deciding to take advantage of the many hiking trails one afternoon, my husband and I set out to Diamond Mountain. We knew we wouldn’t have time to complete the entire five-mile trail, but we figured we’d at least get a taste of the woods. We came prepared with water bottles and hiking shoes, equipped with walking gear.

After following the path for just a short while, we heard the sound of rushing water. Moving a little further, we were rewarded with a sinuous stream next to our path, which often turned into a fast-flowing waterfall. It was gorgeous, and it felt great to be out in nature, enjoying G‑d’s masterpiece.

If you looked closely at our surroundings, you would see many fallen or partially broken trees, dead leaves or broken twigs. Huge roots were protruding along the path, some actually helping us to climb up the higher parts of the mountain. Rocks and stones were scattered haphazardly, and we stepped on them since the stream was turning parts of the ground into mud as it gently cascaded down the hill.

In a detached analysis of our environs, you would see absolute chaos. Everything was strewn about: leaves, trees, rocks, water, earth, seemingly indiscriminately and out of place. In our own home, we never tolerate spilled water on our floors or broken pieces lying about, yet this was precisely what made the natural scene so beautiful—and so calming.

Despite the apparent disarray, it was obvious that there was a Creator who created it. Every pebble had its place in the grand scheme, enhancing its environment, contributing to the grandeur of its majesty. Our surroundings seemed to be singing in unison, “How wondrous are Your creations, oh G‑d!”

In our own settings, in our homes or offices, we sometimes seek “perfection” and often don’t recognize how each of us is uniquely contributing to our surroundings and the big picture. And yet, within nature, the beauty of each broken tree branch, insect or protruding piece of earth was clearly vital for the beauty of this picturesque setting. The imperfections created the perfection.

On Sukkot, we leave the tidy structures of our homes and dwell outdoors with the open sky and bright stars twinkling above our heads. During this season of joy, we leave our orderly habitat to gain an appreciation of our Creator and His creations, and all that He has given us—and to remember, how each and every one of us has a vital part in creating this glorious grand picture.

Wishing you a Chag Sameach!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW