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Why is the holiday of Sukkot celebrated in the autumn season?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Several reasons are given for the timing of this holiday in the beginning of the autumn season:

  1. After filling his warehouses with all the produce which was harvested at the end of the summer season, a person might feel confident about his financial situation, and forget the Creator who supplied him with all this material wealth. Therefore we sit in the Sukkah and contemplate the time when we had nothing – no fields, orchards or vineyards – and G-d alone provided for our every need.
  2. The Jews left Egypt at the commencement of the spring season. For the next few months the weather was pleasant and did not necessitate the building of shelters. Only with the approach of autumn, and with an eye towards the winter, did the Jewish people erect their “Sukkot.”
  3. If we would sit in booths in the springtime – the season when we left Egypt and were first encircled by the Heavenly Clouds – people would claim that we are moving outdoors for a week merely to enjoy the pleasant weather. Therefore we sit in the sukkah in a cool, rainy season, so that it is obvious to everyone that we are doing so at G-d’s behest.
  4. According to the teachings of Chassidut, the holiday of Sukkot is directly connected to Yom Kippur which precedes it by five days. See From Days of Awe to Days of Joy for the full explanation.

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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.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
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.
Chassidut
The teachings of the Chassidic masters. Chassidut takes mystical concepts such as G-d, the soul, and Torah, and makes them understandable, applicable and practical.
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.