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Sermonette for Sukkot PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rabbi Yossy Goldman   
There are two opinions in the Talmud as to what we commemorate when we build our Sukkah. One, is that it recalls the Booths our ancestors built to shelter themselves from the burning desert sun after the Exodus from Egypt. The other, is that the Sukkah recalls not a physical shelter but the spiritual shelter provided by the Clouds of Glory, Hashem’s protective cover that shielded them from many harmful effects.

Rashi, in his commentary on the Bible seems to favour the latter opinion of spiritual shelter rather than physical shelter.

This seems to be corroborated by the Halacha in the Laws of Sukkah that if the Schach, the leafy covering is so thick that the rain cannot penetrate, then the Sukkah is actually invalid (posul).

It would seem, therefore, that the purpose of the Sukkah is to remind us wherein lies our true security. It is the protective cover of G-d, as symbolized by the Clouds of Glory rather than our own man-made shelters.

This is, in fact, the most important moral lesson we are meant to derive from the Sukkah. “Life is but a Sukkah,” a temporary dwelling, here today, gone tomorrow - “a fleeting dream,” as we said on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

And where do we look for strength, hope, salvation and our ultimate security? Not in the mighty man-made skyscrapers. We have seen all too horribly and vividly on our television screens how the mightiest towers on earth collapsed like a deck of cards! What took the most advanced society on our planet ten years to build, took a few madmen ten minutes to destroy!

Suddenly, life in South Africa isn’t quite as scary as it was a week or two ago. Suddenly, an ordinary trip on an airplane is far more terrifying than the crime statistics in our country. Suddenly, nowhere is safe, and perhaps South Africa is safer than many other places on earth.

Yes, at the end of the day, “Life is but a sukkah.” When we realise our own vulnerability and our dependence on G-d for our life, our livelihood, our safety and security, we begin to understand that we are under His protective shield. And then, wherever we are we can feel safe in His embrace. 

As we read in Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the shelter of the One Above abides under the protection of the Almighty. I say of the L-rd, He is my refuge and my fortress, my G-d in whom I trust.”

Chag Sameach.