Sukkot 5774

Holiday #3 (170)

Sukkot 5774

September 18-25

From the Chassidic MastersFrom the KabbalistsFrom the Rebbes of ChabadSome Laws and Customs

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From the Chassidic Masters

Sukkot vs. Shabbat

The Rebbe, R. Simcha Bunim of Pesichka once said, "There is no other mitzvah like dwelling in a sukkah during the holiday of Sukkot: a person enters into it with his entire body (i.e.-all his limbs), his clothes, his shoes."
To this responded R. Simcha Leib of Lanschna, "The mitzvah of Shabbat is even greater. You don't have to do anything to enter into it; you are in it automatically. And until Shabbat ends, it is not possible to step outside it, not even for an instant!"
(from Sichat HaShavuah #170)

From the Rebbes of Chabad

Unique and Contradictory

The mitzvah of sukkah is unique, for it completely surrounds a person, from the soles of his feet to his head, encompassing all his garments, including his shoes. Moreover, every action performed in a sukkah (eating, sleeping, etc.) is a mitzvah. This teaches that a person can serve his Creator not just through study and prayer, but even in his mundane physical activities, affirming the principle "In all your ways know Him." If a person truly desires, he will realize that such service is not only possible, but even easy, as our Sages say, that sukkah is an "easy mitzvah."


There are two contradictory elements in a sukkah. On one hand, a sukkah is by definition a temporary dwelling, as our Sages say, "For seven days go out of your permanent dwelling and dwell in a temporary one." On the other hand, "For seven days a person makes his sukkah his permanent dwelling and his house his temporary one."

This world is a sukkah, a temporary dwelling, only a "vestibule" to the next world. A person must recognize that earthly matters in and of themselves are only temporary. However, when worldly matters are not granted importance and a person uses them only for the sake of Heaven, he makes his sukkah an abode for Divinity. The world and everything in it is converted to a "permanent dwelling" for G-d.

Likutei Sichot (quoted in Days of Awe, Days of Joy)

From the Kabbalists

Rabbi Moshe Alshich

"On the fifteenth of this [seventh] month shall be the festival of Sukkot to G-d." [Lev. 23:34]

We must first understand the basic difference between Sukkot and Passover and Shavuot. The latter denote historic events which had already taken place and had been experienced by the people whom Moses addressed. When it came to Sukkot, the events being celebrated had not taken place yet. There had not been an important historical event to cause the Jew to move out of his house into a flimsy hut for seven days every year. If we were to consider the fact that G-d provided ananey hakovod, clouds representing the presence of G-d's glory, to protect us from the sun, as implied in verse 43, surely the forty years of manna and the wandering well, would rate equally with the clouds, and we have no festivals commemorating those miracles!

The repeating of laymor, to say, in verse 34, and the emphasis on "this seventh month," is to tell Israel that this festival does not occur in Nissan, when the Clouds of Glory first manifested themselves, but in this 7th month, when your honour was restored before G-d, and the justification of the existence of mankind altogether was demonstrated.

Both Passover and Shavuot represent a reward to Israel who had displayed dedication at the Exodus, and who had accepted the yoke of the Torah. These festivals are lashem, they represent justification for G-d (i.e. they are G-d's) who had argued that man was worth creating because Israel would display such a lofty moral level. It is a celebration for G-d, then also. G-d's greatest victory, however, was the fact that Israel had recovered from the stain on its soul due to the golden calf episode, which first appeared to give the angels a chance to confront G-d and remind Him that they had voted against the creation of man. The rehabilitation process had been completed right after Yom Kippur, when G d had first seen fit to forgive Israel. (at the end of Moses' third forty day stay on the mountain).

The Sukkot festival then is first and foremost chag lashem, a "festival of G-d," Israel not having contributed any input to merit this festival. We rejoice that G-d is happy and has seen His judgment proven right.


By taking the 4 species, (which according to the Zohar represent the four letters in the holy name of G-d) we express our joy in His joy, His celebration. In Vayikra Rabba 30, we find a similar interpretation of the meaning of the 4 species.

The meaning of this is, that since, according to tradition the 15th of Tishrey is the first day on which our sins are recorded again after the Day of Atonement, we arm ourselves with symbols of the holy name of G-d, to appeal to His mercy and kindness, to help us resist our evil urge.

(adapted from Torat Moshe - 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Zefat on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)

> Some Laws and Customs  

"Rain in the Sukkah"

Rabbi Fishel of Strikov would sit in his Sukkah even when it was raining. Once he was asked: It says explicitly in the Codes of Law: "When it is raining one enters the house", and the Ramah adds to this "and anyone who is released from sitting in the Sukkah and does not leave, will not get a reward and he is considered a simpleton." Rabbi Fishel's reaction was: " I prefer to be a simpleton, as long as I can be in the Sukkah..."

Rabbi Menechem Mendel of Kotsk also sat in the Sukkah when it was raining. He would say: One is released from sitting in the Sukkah when it is raining because of the 'suffering' that causes, and he who suffers is released from the Sukkah; but it seems to me that if a Jew can sit in the Sukkah, feel the rain and 'suffer' because of it - he really does not deserve to sit in the Sukkah.
(translated from Sichat HaShavuah #148)

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