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Why Is Sukkot Celebrated in the Autumn?

Why Is Sukkot Celebrated in the Autumn?


The sukkah commemo­rates the Clouds of Glory that protected our ancestors in the Sinai Desert, clouds that accompanied them starting when they left Egypt on Passover, during the springtime. Nevertheless, the Torah specifically commands us to sit in the sukkah during the “seventh month,” at the onset of fall.

Several reasons are given for the timing of this holiday:

  1. After filling the storehouses with all the produce that 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. We therefore sit in the sukkah and contemplate our sojourn through the desert, a time when we had nothing—no fields, orchards or vineyards—and G‑d alone provided for our every need.
  2. If we would sit in booths in the springtime—the season when we actually left Egypt—people would erroneously conclude that we are moving outdoors to enjoy the pleasant weather. We therefore sit in the sukkah during a cool, rainy season, so that it is patently obvious that we are doing so only at G‑d’s behest.
  3. According to a differing understanding of the verse commanding us to sit in the sukkah, the booths commemorate the actual huts that the Jews constructed and in which they lived while sojourning in the desert. As mentioned before, 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 sukkahs.
  4. According to the teachings of Chassidut, the holiday of Sukkot is directly connected to Yom Kippur, which precedes it by five days. Click here for more on this topic.
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Donna New Zealand November 18, 2013

Sukkot in the Southern Hemisphere What's it like for anyone who's done it in the Southern Hemisphere? I want to learn but how do you get around the cold nights with a child as well? Thanks Reply

Anonymous April 4, 2013

I would like to ask regarding the timing of the sukkot during autumn which generally occur during the autumnal equinox that usually fall on September 22 or 23 of every year. What if sukkot fall before that date, like the one that will occur this year (September 19, 2013), technically, it is still summer yet the scheduled celebration is 3 days advance, what could be the implication on its celebration considering that it is still summer? Reply

Barry Saltcoats, Ayrshire/Scotland September 21, 2012

The anticipation of G-d's wisdom I see Sukkot as being similar in feel to Pesach, (Passover), in that the doing is as important as the memory or the story. It is a time where we live through the period as our ancestors did in the desert until the revelation on Mt. Sinai where we became Jews by accepting G-d's glorious Torah, which is celebrated next during Simchat Torah.

The sense of the renewal of the seasons, which started on Rosh Hashana, and continued through our spiritual renewal on Yom Kippur is completed by Sukkot - a reminder of where we came from, how and why, before we get to live it all again.
May we all be blessed in 5773. Reply

Deborah Halstead, Kansas January 9, 2012

Mishkan (Sukkot) Please explain what materials were used by the Israelites to build the mishkan for Sukkot in their wilderness journey. Were there trees and vegetation growing in the wilderness or was it mostly a desert area? Reply

D W September 27, 2010

the mishkan (tabernacle) was also built in tishrei as an atonement for the sin of the golden calf. the mishkan was temporary dwelling as well, a sukkah for g-d if you will. Reply

Inge Reisinger September 27, 2010

Well explained Reply

Anonymous New York, NY September 27, 2010

Sukkot in the Southern Hemisphere How do I explain Sukkot in the Southern Hemisphere since Sukkot normally falls there at the beginning of Spring time? Reply

Anonymous yerushalayim, eretz yisrael October 6, 2009

clouds of glory the reason that we rejoice on Succos is that after the chait ha eigel - the sin of the golden calf - the clouds of glory disappeared.
they returned again on the 15th of Tishri, which showed the Jewish people that not only had G-d forgiven them, but that He also accepted them and loved as before. So that is why Succos is called zman simchaseinu - the time of our rejoicing. Reply

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