The Jewish year is filled with holidays that commemorate past events: Passover is celebrated on the day we were liberated from Egypt; Shavuot, on the day we received the Torah; Rosh Hashanah, the day of Judaism does not believe in an anniversary as merely a celebration of the pastjudgment, the day Adam and Eve were judged for the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. And on the day the Jewish people received the second set of tablets, which represented the atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, we celebrate Yom Kippur.

In truth, Judaism does not believe in an anniversary as merely a celebration of the past. According to the teachings of Chassidism, the same energy that occurred in the past is available and more easily accessible on the anniversary of that event. A wedding anniversary, for example, is a day when the commitment, devotion, love and friendship that the couple experienced in the past can be readily reawakened. By the same token, on Passover the spirit of freedom is once again in the air, and on Yom Kippur we access the energy of atonement.

Which leads us to the one exception: the holiday of Sukkot.

In the Torah reading of Emor, G‑d commands Moses:

Speak to the children of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the festival of Sukkot, a seven-day period to the L‑rd. . . . In order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt. I am the L‑rd, your G‑d.1

We sit in the sukkah to remind ourselves that when we left Egypt, G‑d had us live in huts. But why do we celebrate the holiday six months after the Exodus, on a day that is not the anniversary of any profound historical event?

Interestingly, Sukkot is the most joyous of all the holidays. While on Passover there is no explicit commandment to rejoice, and the Torah mentions the word “joy” only once in relation to Shavuot, on Sukkot the Torah instructs us to rejoice no less than three times.

Sukkot teaches us that we don’t need to wait for an Sukkot is the most joyous of all the holidaysanniversary, when a unique energy flows from above. Through the very act of building the sukkah, we have the power to sanctify an otherwise regular day.

This explains why the mitzvah of sukkah is unique in that it encompasses our entire being. The holiness is not reserved for a specific action, such as eating matzah or hearing the shofar, but rather it is all-encompassing. Anything we do in the sukkah—eating, drinking, reading the paper or just relaxing—is a holy spiritual act that connects us to the Divine. Because such is the power of the Jew: to sanctify the mundane and to imbue daily activities with spirituality and holiness.

On Sukkot our joy reaches its climactic peak because Sukkot represents the ability to feel closeness and love to our Beloved even on the days that are not our wedding anniversary.2