The Sukkah as Divine Protection

The Mitzvah: (Vayikra 23:42) "You shall dwell in sukkot for seven days, every native born Israelite shall dwell in sukkot".

The Reason: (Vayikra 23:43) "So that generations will know that in the sukkot I caused B'nai Yisrael to dwell when I took them out of the land of Egypt, I am Hashem your God."

Why do we need a holiday to remind us that B'nai Yisrael lived in sukkot (booths) when they left Egypt?

According to Rashi who quotes Rabbi Eliezer (Sukkah 11b), there is a deeper meaning. Sukkot were not booths as we know them today. Rather, they were the "Ananei HaKavod", the clouds of glory that protected B'nai Yisrael when they were in the desert.

Ramban agrees with this view. Ramban adds that while Pesach reminds us of the miracle of the exodus from Egypt, the holiday of Sukkot reminds us of the ongoing miracle, God's protection throughout their forty year stay in the wilderness.

Where do sukkot (booths as we know them today) fit in?

According to Rabbi Akiva (Sukkah 11b), B'nai Yisrael made themselves real sukkot (booths). Ramban explains that B'nai Yisrael made literal booths on the onset of the winter season on account of the cold. When we dwell in sukkot, we are reminded that B'nai Yisrael did not live in homes for forty years. Rather, God was with them and they lacked nothing.

It is now over a year since the residents of Gush Katif have been forced out of their homes. Many are living in temporary dwellings, even tents while they wait for a permanent place to live.

As we sit in our sukkot, let's not forget how fortunate we are to have God's protection both inside and outside our homes. The fact that we have permanent homes to return to at the end of the holiday should not be taken for granted.