Everything you need to know about the Sukkah

Monday, 20 September, 2021 - 1:37 pm

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What is a Sukkah?

The Sukkah (plural Sukkot) is a temporary construction, with a roof of cut plants called Schach.

What do we do inside the Sukkah?

The Torah, when giving us the commandment of Sukkah, says: “For a seven-day period you shall live in Sukkot” (Leviticus 23:42). The Talmud (Sukkah 28b) explains that living inside the Sukkah means doing whatever we do in our home inside the Sukkah. Thus, for 8 days (7 in Israel), we eat and drink, study, converse etc. inside the Sukkah.

Why do we build a Sukkah?

The Torah tells us about the Holiday of Sukkot: “…in order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in Sukkot when I took them out of the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 21:43). When G-d took us out of Egypt, he led us in the desert and protected us from the sun, the wild beasts etc. with His Clouds of Glory. To remember this, we sit in the Sukkah, which surrounds us from all 4 sides and from above, like the Clouds of Glory. 

How do we build a Sukkah?

The basic thing in building the Sukkah is that it should be a solid construction, i.e, it must stay solid with normal winds. (For instance, we should not use sheets to make the walls). The height from every side should be at least 1 ½ meter, for it to be considered a proper construction. For the schach, the roof, we must use materials that grow from the ground, but are detached from the ground, for example, cut branches of a tree. It is also customary to decorate the Sukkah, in whichever way one desires.

There are a few important things we must be careful about when building the Sukkah:

1. The schach (roof) must be enough to provide shade from the sun, i.e. there must be more shade than sun in the Sukkah.

2. The Sukkah must be directly under the sky and its roof should only be the schach. We cannot build a Sukkah inside a house, in a roofed veranda, or under a tree.

3. We need to be able to easily see the schach when sitting, this is why we do not build a Sukkah higher than about 10 meters. If the schach does not cover the entire surface of the Sukkah, one should sit under the schach in order to be considered as sitting in the Sukkah.

4. The minimum volume of the Sukkah should be enough to fit a seated person with a table to eat (this limit concerns the width, length, and height). Yet there is no limit for the length and width of the Sukkah. (There is a limit for the height as we mentioned earlier).

What does the Sukkah symbolize?

There is something very interesting in the Sukkah, The Talmud tells us that all the Jewish people can sit together in one Sukkah (since there are no limits to its surface). When we sit in the Sukkah, there is room for everyone, it doesn’t matter who he or she is. There is a seat in the Sukkah for every Jew and the Sukkah surrounds us all together. Thus, the Sukkah symbolizes the unity of the Jewish people, one of the central messages of the holiday of Sukkot.

Chag Sameach!

Arie from the Yeshiva

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