I hadn't even taken my skull cap with me.
The young boy, who looked about eight years old, nevertheless, having peered at my countenance, seemed convinced that I must be Jewish and offered me a palm branch. That's New York for you.
Today brings us to the First Day of the great Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot. And I am among those who are convinced that the psalm we Latin clergy use in the Latin Divine Office every Sunday morning of the year was composed in or for the first great joyful celebration of Sukkot after the completion of the Second Temple.
Readers of this blog are unlikely to need to be reminded that the unspeakable Name of the Jewish God, the consonants of which are YHWH (the 'Tetragrammaton'), is expressed, when someone is praying or reading aloud, by the Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin, or English and whatever, word LORD (when this is happening, bibles in the Anglican tradition print LORD in capitals to remind us that what the Hebrew actually reads is YHWH).
Clergy who in their Office say, over and over again, the psalms, will have noticed how LORD, Dominus, functions quite differently from any other word for the Deity. 'God' might mean just 'God' but YHWH (LORD) means God-of-Israel. The word often occurs in close relationship with mentions of Israel, or Israel as sharply distinguished from the gentile nations, or the need of the Nations to submit to the God of Israel, or the Holy City, or the Temple in which the Name YHWH is present in power. Its every occurrence summons us from every Ba'al or Asherah or Pachamama of our idolatrous natures to the one and only God, the God of Israel.
And Sukkot is (Leviticus 23:39) the Feast of YHWH; sometimes just 'the Feast'. Josephus informed his Hellenic readers that it is the holiest and greatest of Hebrew feasts. So try looking at psalm 117 (Vulgate number; 118 in the Masoretic text). And you will find that this exuberant, repetitive text is about
YHWH and, yes,
YHWH ... all the way through. 'Open to me the gates ...' as the procession arrives at he Temple. 'Blessed be he who enters in the Name of YHWH!' 'We bless you from the house of YHWH! ''Bind the festal procession with branches up to the horn of the Altar'!. 'This is the Day which YHWH has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it!'
The LORD'S Day! Dies Dominica ... Dimanche ... Domenica ... Diumenge ... Domingo ... Duminica ... Kyriake ... in language after language (excepting our barbarous Northern dialects) the very name of the LORD's Day reminds us that it is the great Festival of the Name of YHWH, the LORD.
Every Sunday is our great Sukkot; and we should pray that the little New Yorker who accosted me, and all his People, may turn and recognise the Stone which the builders rejected as the Head of the corner, and may come to join us in the Temple of YHWH and offer with us the true Lamb and share the Blood of the Covenant. 'This is YHWH's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes'. Gratias agamus YHWH Deo nostro!
His steadfast love endures for ever!