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Shabbat Parashat Haazinu Sukkot 5783

Parashat Hashavua: The Sukka to Focus on

Harav Shaul Yisraeli an address from 5708 (1947) from Vsamachta Bchagecha p. 7-8

The holidays are celebrated in Eretz Yisrael in beautiful sunlight, and the contrast to Europe is greatest on Sukkot. The days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot in chutz la’aretz were often days of wind and long rain showers, which put in doubt the prospect of sitting in the sukka. Only in Eretz Yisrael can we fulfill the mitzva with a feeling of how beautifully it fits in with the cultural life of society.

In chutz la’aretz, the lulav and etrog were reminders of previous times, giving encouragement during hardship and sending regards from the Land from which we were exiled. In Eretz Yisrael, the refreshing fragrance of the orchard beckons you to go out to the vineyards and join in the agricultural life cycle (Rav Yisraeli was the rav of a moshav).    

Every citizen in Israel shall live in sukkot for seven days so that our generations will know that Hashem housed Bnei Yisrael in sukkot after the Exodus (Vayikra 23:42-43). To be a full citizen of our nation you must sit in a sukka and know its value. However, it is not always done with the same mindset. Each generation must learn its unique lesson from the sukka. There are two approaches to what sukkot we are commemorating – actual booths or divine clouds (Sukka 11b), and there are times to stress this one, and times the other.

When Bnei Yisrael were in exile and life was no more stable than a sukka, it was necessary to stress the divine clouds. While our sukka always seemed to be falling, it somehow survived (like our nation, with Divine Assistance). Hidden miracles happened each time, including times of the worst national tragedies. Hashem saved remnants of the nation and even brought them to Zion, as we have seen (see date above).

Many have made aliya after all that has transpired. On one hand, this is ideal, yet there are times that people think that it might have been better to settle in the Diaspora in easier conditions (like our forefathers reminiscing about Egypt). This is despite the fact that we saw what happened when we lived in foreign lands, the price we paid for eating the “vegetables of Egypt.” When at first they came to Eretz Yisrael and wanted to rest, there were still sukkot and unusual living conditions. Then it was necessary to remember that Bnei Yisrael sat in actual booths in the desert. Then too, they did not make it immediately to the “resting place.” They needed seven years to conquer the Land and seven years to divide it, before the “good and broad Land” was fully theirs.

The third element of the sukka is that it is a temporary dwelling. After integrating into the Land, one feels that he can build fully protective houses and be “independent.” We may feel personal success in providing for ourselves (see Devarim 8:17). The sukka reminds us that we always need Hashem’s mercy, including in Eretz Yisrael. In this Land, Hashem’s eyes (i.e., providence) are at work from the beginning to the end of the year (see Devarim 11:12). We must continue building and planting but remember Hashem’s intimate involvement.

At the Sukkot celebrations in the Beit Hamikdash, Hillel would say “If I am here, everything is here” (Sukka 53a). Rashi explains that “I” refers to Hashem. If Hashem is with us, there is value to and success with all nature’s powers.

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Tzvi Ben Tzion ben Ester Ela
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