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The Symbolism of the Succah

For every Yom Tov, it is very meaningful to know the specific reasons for each holiday. But when it comes to Succos, it is a Halachic requirement. As the Bais chodosh explains to us. The Torah States that fact very clearly. L’Maan Yaidu Dorosaichem Ki Ba’Succos Hoshavit Es B’Nei Yisrael, that you and all the generations to come should know that Hashem housed the B’Nei Yisrael in Succahs.

What Succahs did Hashem shelter B’Nei Yisrael in?

The Bais Yosef explains that the Succahs referred to are the Ananei Ha’Kavod, the clouds of glory, which surrounded Am Yisrael in the desert. These clouds, the Mechaber goes on to tell us, protected B’Nei Yisrael from the blazing heat of the sun.

If that’s the case, then when we sit in our Succahs, we should have in mind this fact.

But what should our Kavana-intent be at night, when the sun is no longer shining? The Sefer Ha’Chinuch adds, Uba’Laila MIpnei Ha’Kerach, and at night. Hashem protected us from the frost and cold.

In the desert, the temperatures go from one extreme to another in the course of a 24 hour period. The Ananei Ha’Kavod shielded us from both.

And what part of the Succah serves to remind us of these heavenly clouds? The Sechach on top of the Succah that filters out the sun and shields us from the wind.

In reality, however, there were six clouds. Four surrounding the people on each side, one on top and one underneath.

So how come we only commemorate the one cloud that travelled on top? What about the other clouds? Although the Sukah must have two walls and a little bit of a third wall, these walls do not have the Halachic requirements of the schach. The walls of a Succah can be made out of almost anything, unlike the sechach which must grow from the ground and cannot be a keli-any sort of uensil. And we have no carpet of sechach underneath us. Why then do we only have a Zecher-reminder for the one cloud?

The four clouds on the sides did not surround each individual separately, the cloud above, however, covered each and every person. Well, you might wonder, so did the one underfoot.

The Medrash explains to us that the cloud underneath served two purposes. It killed all the scorpions and dangerous insects and animals in the desert. And it leveled the ground for easy walking.

If we would put a blanket of Sechach on the ground of our Succah, it would not serve either of these purposes’. It would not kill off any insects and it wouldn’t level the ground for us. It would only become something to trip on.

The Sechach, however, serves the purpose that the cloud above the B’Nei Yisrael’s heads did. As we said, it keeps out the blinding rays of the sun and protects us from the chilly winds.

We should add that there was actually a seventh cloud. It’s purpose was to lead the way for the millions of Jews in the Desert. Indeed, the Sefer Matamim says that this is the reason why there are seven days to the festival of Succos to commemorate the seven clouds.

It this to be our only thought upon entering our Succahs? How come we have a whole Yom Tov, seven whole days, to remind us of only this specific Nais-Miracle that Hahem did for the B’Nei Yisrael in the Midbar? There were so many other miracles. The “Man”, the B’air Shel Miriam-the super miraculous well of Miriam-which was actually a mobile stone that quenched the thirst of millions of Jews for forty years. The fact that no one outgrew their clothes and the clothes never wore out, and so many many more miracles. Why do we concentrate on the Ananei Ha’Kavod?

The Mishna B’rurah tells us, V’Dugmah L’Zeh Tzivanu La’Asos Succos K’Dei Shenizkar Norosov V’nifl’osov. Hashem commands us to make Succahs so that we should be reminded of the wonders that Hashem did for us in the Midbar. Notice the plural. Hashem picked the first miracle that occurred to serve as a catalyst. By remembering the first, namely the clouds of glory, all the others wonders will follow suit.

The Chida adds another important reason why we commemorate specifically the clouds of glory. He explains that the a Ananei Hakovod were the only major miracle that we were granted without complaining. On the other hand for the Man and the b’air we murmured and complained. Anything that was received as a result of complaining is not worth commemorating throughout the generations

In the merit of our recalling the Clouds of Glory, may Hashem always protect us and grant us long life , good health, and everything wonderful!