Sukoth (Shelter/Tents) is a time to remember that HaShem sheltered us when we left Misrayim.
This season we once again remember the providence of HaShem, for He protected us from the harsh heat of the sun and from the elements surrounding us. and that we gather in our harvest of first fruits, a symbolic ritual of recognizing the benefits of HaShem’s providence.
- Shemoth/Exodus 23,14,
- Wayikra/Leviticus 23,34
- Devarim/Deuteronomy 16,13
Many have asked:
Then why do we, remember this holy day during the month of Tishri vs the month of Nissan when HaShem protected us with His Sukah (Clouds of Glory)?
Our rabbis taught that during this time when HaShem brought us out from Misrayim (Egypt) it was obvious that HaShem was protecting Yisrael with His Clouds of Glory. Therefore the same should be done with the miswah of Sukoth. If we were to perform this in of the month Nissan, it would be natural for people to dismiss the purpose of this miswah, for most people would build a tent to protect them from the sun’s hot rays, and such meaning for the miswoth would lose its significance, and not be obvious to the world. So instead, in HaShem’s divine wisdom decreed that we observe Sukah during the autumn month of Tishri where there is no need for such protection, for the whether is cooler and the sun is not hot, making this miswoth obvious to the nations, as HaShem’s sukah was obvious to the Egyptians.
In saying, Haj Sameah’, Sukoth is one of three ‘real’ haggim (pilgrimages) which includes Pesah (Passover), and Shavuoth. In fact our sages teach that Sukoth is of higher purity and eminence out of the three festivals, and that it will be a holy day kept during the days of the mashiah Ben Dawid. For during Pesah, Yisrael still did not have the 613 miswoth of Torah, and during Shavuoth, Yisrael sinned with the ‘golden calf’, but even, while Yisrael sinned and kept rebelling HaShem continued to protect them under His Sukah after they repented…
“But you are a FORGIVING Power, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” -Nehemyah 9,17-20
Knowing these facts, there are no mistake in seeing the significance of why HaShem placed the holy day of Sukoth, five days after Yom Kippur, in which sins are forgiven. HaShem’s providence is with us especially when we are trying to refine ourselves. Before building the Sukah some recite the blessing of ‘Sheheheyanu’, some don’t but instead relay on the ‘Sheheheyanu’ from the Erev Sukoth kiddush to cover this.
In a sense, the Sukah not only represents HaShem’s providence, but it is also a representation of life, the means by which HaShem’s providence is received. Haj Same’ah!!!
- Jewish Year 5775: sunset October 8, 2014 – nightfall October 15, 2014
- Jewish Year 5776: sunset September 27, 2015 – nightfall October 4, 2015
- Jewish Year 5777: sunset October 16, 2016 – nightfall October 23, 2016
*Note: Contrary to popular teaching, Sukoth is NOT “The Feast of Tabernacles”. The name of the holiday is frequently translated “Feast of Tabernacles,” which, like many translations of Hebrew terms, isn’t very useful. This translation is particularly misleading, because the word “tabernacle” in the Bible refers to the portable Sanctuary in the desert, a precursor to the Temple, called “mishkanin” in Hebrew. The Hebrew word “sukkah” (plural: “sukkot”) refers to the temporary booths that people lived in, not to the Tabernacle.