Sukkot is the Festival of Ingathering; it is the time when the produce of the field, orchard and vineyard is gathered in. The granaries, threshing floors and wine and olive-presses are full to capacity. Weeks and months of toil and sweat put into the soil have finally been amply rewarded. The farmer feels happy and elated. No wonder Sukkot is "the Season of Rejoicing."

At such a time of material success, there is the danger of man "waxing fat and kicking; forsaking G‑d, his Maker." Finding his work so successfully rewarded, he may think that "my power and the strength of my hand have made me all this wealth." There is also the danger of his thinking that to work and amass a fortune is the whole purpose of life, forgetting that there are greater and higher values in life-spiritual values.

Lest the Jew forget his real purpose in life, G‑d, in His infinite wisdom and loving-kindness, bade us leave our comfortable homes at this time, and dwell in a frail Sukkah for seven days. The Sukkah reminds us that we rely on G‑d for protection, for the Sukkah is no fortress, not even providing a solid roof over our heads. It reminds us also that life on this earth is but a temporary dwelling.

The seven days of Sukkot, each represent a decade of life, seventy years in all, the human life span on this earth. This short life-span should be considered only as a period of preparation for the everlasting life that comes after life on this earth, a life where material wealth does not count, where only spiritual wealth counts. The stores of grain, wine and oil must be left behind, while only the stores of Torah, mitzvot and Good Deeds can be taken along and put to good advantage in that everlasting life.

This is also one of the reasons why it is customary, in some congregations, to read the Book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) during the Festival of Sukkot. In some congregations it is read in the synagogue on Shabbat chol hamoed Sukkot. For the Book of Kohelet, prophetically written by the Wisest of All men, King Solomon, is full of earnest thoughts and reflections on the "vanity of vanities" of this world. It fittingly concludes with the words, "The end of the matter after all is heard, is: Fear G‑d and keep His commandments, for this is the whole purpose of man."

In this way, Sukkot for us is the "Festival of Ingathering" in a deeper sense: it teaches us to gather, retain and store up the religious experiences and spiritual uplift which we have acquired during the many and varied festivals, prayers and mitzvot of the month of Tishrei, so that we can draw upon these rich stores throughout the whole year to come.