What’s ‘In’ It For Me?

by Rabbi Nussbaum
October 2, 2020
TISHREI 14, 5781
Candlelighting Time 6:21 PM

         The halacha obligates us to dwell in a succah which is not higher than 20 amos or about 30 feet. The Talmud offers various reasons for this and one of them is that we dwell in a succah to remind us of our sojourn in the desert when Hashem shielded us from the elements either through dwellings that were provided for us or we were ringed by clouds that protected us. Therefore, we must be able to notice the cover of the succah, the schach, which serves as a reminder of our journey from our escape from Egypt until we entered in to Israel. Although the covering is the main and essential theme of the succah, we also must be surrounded by walls, at least 2 and an additional partial third wall. These walls become sanctified since they are used in conjunction with this mitzvah. Summarily, when we fulfill the mitzvah of succah properly, we are enveloped on all sides and from above in a fashion unlike other mitzvos.  

            Rav Meir Simchah of Dvinsk also notes that Succos is the only Yom Tov which mentions our exodus from Egypt. The point is that we are to view ourselves as only subservient to Hashem and not feel subjugated to any other authoritative control. That is why one who is sold in to slavery is released after six years. We must never have that degree of servitude which will obstruct our relationship with Hashem.

            The mitzvah to dwell in the succah reinforces that message. We perform all of our regular activities in the succah. We eat all of our meals there, we invite guests to join us and many sleep in their succas as well. It is as though we are immersed in a mikveh because our entire being enters and utilizes the succah unlike most other mitzvos which are only accomplished with a part of our body.

            The mitzvah of succah follows on the heels of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur where we are intensely focused on coronation of Hashem as not only our King but the Ruler of the Universe. Of course, we beseech Hashem that the entire world should realize this as well which would facilitate the advent of Moshiach. But the main theme which we proclaim is cognizance of our subservience to Hashem and subsequently introducing that important theme to our daily lives. The climax of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the neilah service where we ultimately transcend our earthly ties and elevate ourselves as we vociferously assert our total dedication to Hashem through recital of the Shema and other confirmation of our full-fledged allegiance to Hashem.

            Actually, each and every one has an innate connection to Hashem through the neshama, however, during the year we clutter and dirty that link. Therefore, our ‘reception’ suffers, however after the reinforcement we merit during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we apply that message to the reality of our lives during Succos as we immerse ourselves in the succah and cement that theme in to our entire being!

            Rav Meir Simcha adds a fascinating dimension to the power of our neshama. Inherently we possess self-generated perception of Hashem. Our physical existence which embodies our soul mitigates that cognition and therefore hampers our ability to serve Hashem to the fullest of our capacity. Involvement in Torah study and mitzvos erodes that barrier and brings us closer to Hashem. However, the distance that we transcend is not exponential. When we travel beyond the trappings of our corporeal existence then we can ascend to levels far beyond our expectations as we develop our spiritual essence and diminish the dominance of our material being.


One who fulfills the mitzvah of succah properly is considered a partner of Hashem in the creation of the world!