I'm standing outside our cozy little synagogue waiting for the clan to gather so that we can begin our trek home, when one of the guys, a natural jokester, passes by and asks, "Nu, how is Sukkot coming along?"

"I'm loving it!" came my immediate response, and I meant it!

He stops in his tracks and gives me a look. The classic, "Yeah, right!" look. "Why? What are you loving about this holiday?"

"Ah! A religious fanatic!" remarked a passerbyNow, I am well aware that my response needs to be swift and substantial, but not too preachy. I also know that this guy can beat me in any quip contest, any day. So I do the thing I know I do well: I decide to be true to myself.

"When I sit in the sukkah," I respond, "I am immediately transported to a place of sublime beauty. It fills me spiritually, and delights me physically."

"Ah! A religious fanatic!" remarked a passerby, also a member of our synagogue.

"She's no religious fanatic," the first guy quipped, "she must be on medication!"

We all laughed. Like I said, I cannot compete in the game of one-liners...

What is it about Sukkot that I love so much? Sitting in that bare wooden booth, feeling the chill of the fall weather, serving meal after meal (in our house the Sukkot specialty foods are stuffed cabbage and lemon meringue pie!).

Yet I love it. I actually feel a sense of panic as the last day of the holiday slips away.

"I loved Your stay here with us! I really felt Your presence in that sukkah."Come the day after Sukkot, and our sukkah has yet to be taken down, it actually hurts me to look at it. Gone is its beauty, its vitality, its light. It does not have a hold on me, it does not beckon me. It's like stray tinsel waving in the wind after the party is over.

Following the holiday of Sukkot we celebrate another brief holiday, Simchat Torah, because "Your parting is difficult for Me," says G‑d.

No kidding! You think You're having a tough time! "What about me," says I. "I loved Your stay here with us! I really felt Your presence in that sukkah. I didn't resent all the preparation or think of it as a burden, 'cause You were coming!"

The Rebbe points to an apparent irregularity in G‑d's expression, "your parting is difficult for Me." Why does He say, "your parting"; aren't we both taking leave from each other? Isn't "our parting" more precise?

But G‑d never departs from us, the Rebbe explains. He is a constant presence in our lives. Over Sukkot, however, we get to actually experience His presence.

That experience comes from spending time together in the sukkah, from sitting around a table, enjoying each other, sharing in the wonder of that mystic light. It comes from dancing and dancing, round and round without stop—the rabbi and the soldier, the teacher and the banker, the cantor and the software distributor. Gone are the differences, lost are the hierarchies, blended are the People of the Book. We are at one, at peace.

Even if it is fleeting and once a year, it reminds us that it is still there. For one week we get a glimpse of it.

And as we depart the sukkah, G‑d says, "It's difficult..."

Can we just do for others without keeping an account? I have just read about an interesting concept that is, apparently, well known in the corporate world, but never spoken of. It is called the "Favor Bank." The premise is that you make lots and lots of deposits into different accounts and then you are free to make withdrawals when the need arises. A deposit might be providing the name of a contact that could help your colleague, or to introduce two potential business partners who wouldn't have met otherwise. Then, when you are in need, you're free to ask any one of these people to return the favor and help you—a withdrawal. People who understand the Favor Bank concept tend to lead successful lives, creating wealth and happiness for themselves ("interest") at a far greater rate than those that don't.

I do not grasp this at all.

How about loving-kindness? Can we just do for others without keeping an account? Isn't that the G‑dly way?

As we take leave of one another and go off on our own paths, we lose the closeness that Sukkot affords us, and, by golly, that is probably why I panic!

I cannot live in a Favor Bank world. I must do for others because they are, and I am. We exist for but one reason: to imitate and incorporate G‑dly attributes, to create a life of meaning, by realizing what is expected of us, and not what we expect out of those around us.

Thus, I cannot bear to look at my empty post-holiday sukkah as the wind blows through it. I urge my husband and sons to take it down in the morning and store it away.

Those special wooden boards shall sit still and quiet in the garage; until next year, when they shall once again stand center stage and once again evoke in me a love for my people.

I can't wait.