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Dwelling—i.e. remaining in one place—is the essence of the mitzvah of sukkah.

An All-Encompassing Mitzvah

An All-Encompassing Mitzvah

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An All-Encompassing Mitzvah
Dwelling—i.e. remaining in one place—is the essence of the mitzvah of sukkah.

Question: On Sukkot we have two specific, different commandments: (1) dwelling in a sukkah (hut), and (2) taking the Four Kinds ([alm frond—lulav, citron—etrog, myrtle branch—hadas and willow branch—aravah]. So why is the holiday called “Sukkot”? It could just has easily been named “Lulav,” right?

Answer: Nevertheless, the holiday is named Sukkot, and not “the holiday of the Four Kinds” or some other general name, because of the special characteristics of the sukkah that the mitzva of the Four Kinds does not have. We fulfill the commandment of sukkah with our entire body...

First: The mitzvah of sukkah begins as soon as the holiday begins, whereas we perform the mitzvah of the Four Kinds only the following morning. (In a year when the holiday of Sukkot begins on Shabbat, we must wait for this mitzvah until Sunday morning, as we are forbidden to perform it on Shabbat.)

Second: The sukkah itself must be built before the holiday begins, while the Four Kinds can be tied together on the holiday itself.

Third: Each time we eat in the sukkah, we make the blessing, “...Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to sit in the sukkah.” If we leave the sukkah for anything other than a short time, and we want to eat there, we are obligated to make the blessing again. So we can fulfill the commandment of sitting in the sukkah many times a day. By contrast, having performed the mitzvah of the Four Kinds once, we cannot do so again until the next day.

Last, but not least, we fulfill the commandment of sukkah by our entire body being located in the sukkah, as opposed to the Four Kinds, which we hold only with our hands. From the commandment of sukkah we learn that everything a Jewish person does must be connected to G‑d.

Chag Someyach and Shabbat Shalom!


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Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter is a co-founder, executive director and featured teacher of Ascent-of-Safed.
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Anonymous October 12, 2011

good one ! Thanks for making the mitzvah explanation of the Sukka simple and straightforward and important. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma October 11, 2011

Sukkot I hear the English word 'succor' in the Hebrew word, Sukkot....This particular holiday calls to me. I think there is a chord within us all, that finds the majesty of being outside, of being in a dwelling place open to sky, and stars, something that feels so immense, we cannot bring words to this. We feel such awe.
Hold your lulav high. Touch the sky. Reply

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