Now that the Jewish people have repented on Yom Kippur and, hopefully, received Divine forgiveness, it is time to sit back and relax...
It is time to celebrate! Just four days after Yom Kippur, the festival of Sukkot begins. On this most festive of holidays (it is known as “z’man simchataynu,” the time of our rejoicing), Jews live in temporary dwellings called sukkot (singular - sukkah) with a roof of branches or wooden boards. This temporary “hut” becomes the Jew’s home for seven days, and, therefore (weather permitting), everything that we would do in our homes, such as eat, sleep or study, is done in the sukkah.
The sukkot are a reminder of our origins, of our wandering in the wilderness after being redeemed from slavery. In fact, this reminder is both of the physical state in which we lived and the spiritual environment in which we sojourned. Symbolically, the sukkah represents the Ananei HaKavod, the Clouds of Glory, in which God enveloped and protected the wandering nation after the Exodus from Egypt.
A strange holiday? Perhaps, but by moving out of our permanent domiciles, especially at the beginning of the rainy/cold season, we demonstrate our faith in God as the provider and sustainer of all life.
So if you thought you had nothing to do next week, take a look around and find the nearest sukkah in which to dwell. Or, of course, you can always build your own! (Perhaps there is a Sukkot Across America location near you!)
This Treat was originally posted on October 10, 2008.
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