More than anything else, we seek happiness in life. "Eternal youth" is nice, but what is it worth if it isn't accompanied by happiness…? Yet, no matter how much we accomplish in life – materially or spiritually – for many of us happiness seems to be an elusive quality. There always seems to be one more thing we need to accomplish before we can be truly happy. In truth, however, trying to achieve happiness via personal accomplishments or successes is akin to trying to gain wealth through frequenting casinos—you're always "oh so close" to winning the jackpot! Let us examine the nature of the holiday of Sukkot, and thus solve the mystery of happiness.

On its surface, the holiday of Sukkot is quite bizarre. Every other holiday on the Jewish calendar commemorates an event which occurred on that particular date; but nothing happened on the 15th of Tishrei which would explain the establishment of a holiday on this date. Every other holiday celebrates a major event which saved the Jewish Trying to achieve happiness via personal accomplishments is akin to trying to gain wealth through frequenting casinospeople from grave danger (such as Passover, Chanukah, or Purim), or changed the course of Jewish history (such as the forgiveness G‑d granted the Israelites on Yom Kippur or the giving of the Torah on Shavuot), but Sukkot celebrates a relatively "minor" miracle—the Clouds of Glory which miraculously surrounded the Jews for the forty years they spent in the desert. During this same period, the Jews were also the beneficiaries of another two miracles, the Manna and the waters which were produced by the rock—the "Well of Miriam." Yet these two miracles, which seem to be of vastly greater import than the Heavenly Clouds – the Jews could not survive without food and water, but they certainly had the means to erect tents to protect themselves from the elements – did not spawn any holidays.

And Sukkot isn't "just another holiday"; it is the most joyous of the three Biblically mandated festivals. In the holiday prayers, each festival is given a short description: Passover is the "Season of our Liberation," Shavuot is the "Season of the Giving of our Torah," but Sukkot is simply described as the "Season of our Rejoicing"! Indeed, the Talmud states that "one who has not witnessed the Festival of the Water Drawing (held on the nights of Sukkot in the Holy Temple) has not seen joy in his lifetime!" Today, too, it is customary to assemble on the nights of Sukkot; to sing, dance, say "l'chaim," and be merry (be sure to find the celebration in your area). But why? What is the reason for the tremendous joy on this holiday?

Incredibly, the secret of Sukkot seems to be its lack of any great miracle. All miracles (or personal achievements) are limited in some way, causing the resulting joy to also be limited. The joy is limited by the scope of the benefit which the miracle or achievement produced; and when the effects of the miracle or accomplishment wear off, the joy becomes passé. Furthermore, there is a Mishnaic dictum: "He who has one hundred desires two hundred, and he who possesses two hundred craves four hundred." It is impossible for one to be ecstatic about a certain achievement when there is always so much more that can be accomplished.

For example: On Passover we celebrate our liberty. Yes we were liberated, but so many of us are still horribly enslaved—to our jobs, to peer pressure, and (most importantly) to our impulses and whims. Shavuot is about Torah, but have we taken full advantage of this magnificent gift which G‑d gave us?

The secret of Sukkot seems to be its lack of any great miracleTrue happiness comes from that which each and every Jew intrinsically has; a personal relationship with G‑d. This relationship derives from the Divine Soul which every Jew possesses and which was hopefully uncovered during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The awareness that no matter what a Jew's personal spiritual state may be, this relationship is always there – after all, a son or daughter continues to be a son and daughter even if they do not exactly follow the parents' wishes – triggers incredible joy. No matter what, you are connected to G‑d, and He really cares about you!

So on Sukkot we leave the security and comfort of our homes, recognizing that true happiness does not come from our beautifully decorated homes, our designer furniture, or any of our other belongings or achievements. We venture out into the Sukkah, which the Zohar dubs "The Shade of Faith," and focus on our most important asset—our G‑dly soul and our special relationship with G‑d.