When the Jewish people returned to Israel in the time of Ezra, they once again erected sukkot. As it says (Nehemia 8:17):

"The entire congregation of returnees from the captivity made sukkot and dwelt in the sukkot; for the Children of Israel had not done this from the days of Yehoshua bin Nun until that day; there was extremely great rejoicing."

How can it be that the Jewish people hadn't kept the mitzvah of sukkah for over 900 years?

This can be understood by the explanation for the mitzvah given by Rabbi Abuhav (Menorat HaMaor 3, 4, 1). He explains that the idea of a sukkah is that a person should leave the security of his home in order to place himself in the hands of God for protection against the elements.

The common denominator between the generation of Yehoshua and Ezra is that these were both generations of Aliyah. These are the two generations in history that were willing to sacrifice their previously sheltered environment and make Aliyah. And, therefore, it was these two generations who were able to appreciate the mitzvah of sukkah like no one else.

Our generation is the third generation in history that has left the exile in order to put our lives in the hands of God here in Israel . So, we too can appreciate with "extremely great rejoicing" the mitzvah of sukkah in our day, in its revival after nearly two thousand years.

As a result, may we speedily witness God's return to His sukkah, the majestic sukkah of Jerusalem, as it says: "In Shalem is His Tabernacle and His dwelling place is in Zion."


Rabbi David Samson is a rabbi and an author in Jerusalem. He heads the Ma'aleh Erev high school for youths who have dropped out of the regular educational system. His latest book, Ask the Rabbi (Arutz Sheva Publications), is a collection of Internet responsa.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.