The Sukkah

The Sukkah Leviticus 23:42-43 – You shall dwell in sukkot seven days, every citizen in Israel shall dwell in sukkot, so that your descendants shall know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.

For the first seven days of Sukkot, Jews are obligated to dwell in their sukkot. But what is a sukkah?

The Physical Structure

A Sukkah is a temporary structure. While some of its walls may be permanent, the roof may not.) A Sukkah must have at least 2 + stable walls, although it is best if there are 4 walls.

While the walls may be made of cloth or canvas, they must be taut and bound tight enough that the walls will not sway in the wind.

The roof of the sukkah must be temporary. The roof of the sukkah is made from sechach. Sechach is defined as parts of a plant that are now detached from the ground, such as branches or bamboo stalks.

i) The roof materials cannot have been previously used as a utensil, such as boards from a dismantled crate.

ii) The material cannot be edible and should not be malodorous.

The walls of the sukkah must be in place before the sechach is placed on top. The sechach must sufficiently cover the sukkah so that there is more shade than light, but should not block out the sky completely. The sukkah should not be built under a tree, roof or awning.

It is customary to decorate and beautify the sukkah, which is an excellent way of involving children in the holiday.

Dwelling in the Sukkah

During the week of Sukkot, the sukkah becomes one’s temporary dwelling and, therefore, weather permitting, everything that one would do in one’s house, such as eat, sleep or study, is done in the sukkah.

1) All meals must be eaten in the sukkah. Snacks, however, may be eaten outside the sukkah, but preferably not grains.

2) One who is ill is not obligated to sleep or eat in the sukkah.

3) One is not obligated to suffer through bad weather or to put oneself in danger to be in the sukkah.

4) When one eats a meal in the sukkah, one should make the following blessing:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu leishev ba’sukkah.

Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

Symbolism of the Sukkah

A) The sukkah represents the temporary dwellings of the Jew wandering in the wilderness.

B) The sukkah represents the Ananei HaKavod, the Clouds of Glory, in which G-d enveloped and protected the wandering nation after the Exodus from Egypt.

C) By moving out of our permanent domiciles, especially at the beginning of the rainy/cold season, Jews demonstrate their faith in G-d as provider and sustainer of all life.