This Friday is the beginning of the holiday Sukkot. During this week we will shake the arba haminim, the Four Kinds, and we will sit in the sukkah. For those who don’t know, a sukkah is a temporary home that is created for the holiday. It has 3 to 4 walls and the roof is made up of s’chach, materials from the ground like leaves and branches. The roof needs to have sufficient s'chach for there to be more shade than sun in the day time but also make it possible for us to see the stars at night. The reasoning behind looking at the stars is so we can be reminded of G-d’s work, according to Rabbi Joseph Teomim.
We celebrate this holiday to commemorate the time that the Jews spent in the desert thousands of years ago and how they had to make temporary shelters on their journeys. Hence why we create sukkah’s now: to put ourselves in their shoes. During Sukkot, we are meant to spend as much time in the sukkah as possible: eating, and playing games and even sleeping!
Sitting in the sukkah is a mitzvah; the Torah gives us reasons as to why, many others have also suggested the meaning behind this mitzvah. One that stands out concerns the idea of universal peace: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that the sukkah is a universal symbol of peace and brotherhood. This proves true because of another mitzvah relating to the sukkah, hachnasat orchim, the welcoming of all guests. For this mitzvah, we must share our “home” to all, friends or strangers. This is the perfect representation of peace and brotherhood, as we are acting as one nation that cares for one another.
While this year, many of us may not be able to sit in the sukkah, we should still think about the reasons for it and how we can achieve peace and brotherhood.
In a world full of crisis, there is always a possibility to shine a light and help one another.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag sameach.
Elianna, Grade 12