Emor: Our Only Permanent Home

The symbolism of the succah.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7

"So that your generations will know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them from the Land of Egypt; I am HaShem, your G-d." (Leviticus 23:43)

According to Rabbi Yitzchak Arama, the purpose of Succot is to teach the provisional nature of life, especially at the time of year when one is harvesting the land's produce. Materialism, wealth and even life on Earth are all
Torah essentially obliges us to relearn the underlying message that our ancestors learned in the desert.
fleeting. Only the World-to-Come is eternal, and therefore one's efforts should be directed to attaining it. Succot's educational message, then, is to prepare oneself for the future olam shekulo tov.

The verse, however, clearly tells us that Succot is a testimony to what happened to the Jews in the desert. Why do the commentators seek an alternative message?

When G-d took the Jews out of Egypt, they dwelt in temporary housing. G-d did not settle them in houses of stone, strong and stable. Had He done so, it would have signified that their stay in the desert was more then transient, rather than just a way station on their way to the Land of Israel. G-d specifically housed the Jews in short-term succot (another interpretation: they were housed under the clouds themselves - certainly of an impermanent nature) so that they would understand that their sojourn in the desert was momentary. They would not be settling there, but continuing their journey to Israel, to their enduring dwelling place. The succah in which the Jews dwelt in the desert was a symbol of the ephemeral nature of life outside of the Land of Israel.

When we are commanded to build temporary dwellings on Succot, the Torah essentially obliges us to relearn the underlying message that our ancestors learned in the desert: namely, that life outside of Israel is temporary, fleeting and only a station on the way to the permanent dwelling in Israel.

May all Jews, those already living in Israel and those who have not yet arrived, understand the message of the succah, and return to Israel and appreciate it as the only permanent home a Jew should have.
Chana Tannenbaum writes from Nof Ayalon.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.