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What is a sukkah?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

Library » Holidays » Sukkot » The Sukkah | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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A. Sukkah is to Sukkot what beer is to Oktoberfest. The sukkah is the central theme of the holiday of Sukkot. It is one Mitzvah you can really get into--literally.

B. The word sukkah (pronounced SOO-kuh) means "hut"--an outdoor shelter formed of a minimum of three windproof walls and covered completely with s'chach - organic materials, such as those giant palm leaves, cedar boughs or bamboo sticks.1 Numerous precise Halachot define the Sukkah's construction. See here for basic requirements.

Encased in a giant box of cloud as they traveled the desert, the ancient Hebrews, were protected from heat and predators in a most miraculous manner after their departure from Egypt
C. The sukkah's significance lies in its symbolism. Encased in a giant box of cloud as they traveled the desert, the ancient Hebrews, forerunners of the Jews, were protected from heat and predators in a most miraculous manner after their departure from Egypt. To remember G-d's shelter, Positive Mitzvah #168 requires us to "live in sukkot for seven days"2 --eating, drinking, reading, socializing in them just as you would in your house. (See here for more about the symbolism of the Sukkah).

See also How do I build a Sukkah?

Footnotes

  • 1. The organic materials must be detached from the ground, and unfinished.
  • 2. Leviticus 23:42-43 - "Every resident among the Israelites shall live in booths, in order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt."
TAGS: Sukkah

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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Sukkah
The temporary structure in which we are required to dwell for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkah must have at least three walls and its roof consists of unsecured branches, twigs or wooden slats.
Halachot
Laws governing the Jewish way of life.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.