This letter was written as an introduction to the kuntreis published for Sukkos, 5711.1

Fulfilling the mitzvah of the sukkah has a distinguishing characteristic: knowledge, as the Torah writes:2 “[You shall dwell in sukkos for seven days...], so that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in sukkos when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” Accordingly, one does not properly fulfill the mitzvah of sukkah if one does not know its intent — that G‑d commanded us to dwell in a sukkah in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt.3

As is explained in various sources,4 “the essence of knowledge is not merely knowing alone..., from authors and books, but the essential thing is to immerse one’s own mind deeply..., and fix one’s thought... with strength and vigor of the heart and mind, until his thought shall be bound... with a strong and mighty bond.”

In this case, a person is required to know that “I (G‑d) caused the Children of Israel to dwell in sukkos” and that this took place “when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.”5

Now, every single day, morning and evening, a man is obliged to regard himself as if he is now at the moment of the Exodus from Egypt. [In a spiritual sense,] “This refers to the release of the Divine soul from the confinement of the body..., by engaging in the Torah and the commandments in general, and in particular through accepting the Sovereignty of Heaven [during the recital of the Shema].”6

To refer to the manner in which this concept was expressed by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ:7

The first thing one must do is get out of his straits8 and bounds. In terms of avodah in general, these constitute the lifestyle that a person plans out for himself. The particular straits and bounds grow out of the life situation in which he chooses to establish for himself. ...

First of all, there has to be an Exodus from this spiritual Egypt, from all these confinements and constrictions. For example, no matter what a person’s plans are, they must include fixed daily periods for Torah study, and his prayers should be attended to conscientiously, not [merely] to discharge his formal obligations.9

After the Exodus from Egypt comes the Splitting of the Red Sea. As soon as a person begins to undertakethe task of avodah, obstacles arise, each of them tough and truly formidable — just as, when the Children of Israel were on their way out of Egypt, the enemy was behind them, the sea lay before them, and they themselves were in the wilderness.

The Splitting of the Sea was wrought from Above. G‑d made a path there for the Children of Israel, just like a road on the dry land — except that there first had to be one man, characterized by self-sacrificie, who was prepared to leap into the sea. That done, G‑d transformed it into dry land. [...]

G‑d then caused them to dwell in sukkos. By way of analogy: A newborn is bathed from filth and swaddled in clean cloth, not only to protect him from uncleanliness from without, but also to straighten and strengthen his limbs — albeit temporarily, but this stands him in good stead throughout the time in which he grows to be a man.10

So, too, in avodah: When a person brings himself to the point at which he has freed himself from the constrictions of his own mindset so that he is now unburdened of his former life-plans, the evil of his natural soul and the material and physical needs of his life become more refined. Immediately thereafter, there must be [the next step] — “and the Children of Israel journeyed... to Sukkos.”11 A sukkah is a makkif, an encompassing light, but it is an encompassing light that has an inward effect, just as swaddling an infant lends strength to his limbs even when he is a man.

This, then, is the inner meaning of the words, “I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in sukkos when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

Assistance and strength in accomplishing all the above throughout all the days of the year may be borrowed from the festival of Sukkos in general, and from the mitzvah of living in a sukkah in particular.

Making mention of our Rebbeim and their activities and teachings helps even more in this [endeavor]. As the well-known adage of my revered father-in-law says, there are chassidic Ushpizin:12 the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid [of Mezritch], the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash and the Rebbe Rashab.

And let us add: My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ.

Menachem Schneerson

The Day Following Yom Kippur, 5711
Brooklyn, N.Y.