Thursday, September 14, 2006

Daf Yomi - Sukkah 12 - Sukkah-A Life Saver

The Gemara earlier on Daf 2 states that according to Rabbah, the Chachamim maintain that a Sukkah whose s’chach is higher than twenty Amos is invalid, because it is said: so that your generations shall know that I made the Jewish People dwell in Sukkos. Since the purpose of the Sukkah is to remind us that Hashem protected the Jewish People in the Wilderness, we say that if the s’chach is within twenty amos of the ground, then one is aware that he his sitting in a Sukkah. If the s’chach is higher than twenty Amos, however, a person is not aware that he is sitting in a Sukkah, because one cannot see the s’chach.

The Bach writes that whenever one performs a mitzvah that is biblically ordained, he is required to have kavanah, focusing on the intention of the mitzvah. The mitzvah of Sukkah is unique in that one must also be mindful of the fact that Hashem made the Jewish People dwell in Sukkos, i.e. the Clouds of Glory, in the Wilderness. One must wonder why Sukkah is unique in this regard in contrast to all other mitzvos.

The explanation for this ruling is that the Vilna Gaon writes that we commemorate Sukkos on the fifteenth of Tishrei as a reminder that after the sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem removed the Clouds of Glory, and they only returned after Yom Kippur and the Jewish People were granted atonement for their grievous sin. The Clouds of Glory protected the Jewish People from their enemies, as is evident from the battle with Amalek. If not for the Clouds of Glory, the Jewish People would have been vulnerable to attacks from their enemies, and they may have been annihilated.

The mitzvah of remembering that Hashem surrounded the Jewish People with the Clouds of Glory is not just symbolic, but a demonstration of our gratitude to Hashem for saving our lives. This is why the mitzvah of Sukkah is unique in that we need to have kavanah that Hashem surrounded us with the Clouds of Glory in the desert.