The Tora says: ‘In Sukkot you shall dwell for seven days… so that your generations shall know, that I hosted the children of Israel in Sukkot when I brought them forth from the land of Egypt.. (Leviticus 23).
During seven days we abandon our homes and we establish ourselves in the Sukka. The Sukka is a ‘hut’ consisting of four walls and a very fragile covering or ‘sekhakh’. We eat, study, and, weather permitting, we sleep in the Sukka. We bring our furniture to the Sukka and make it as comfortable and beautiful as possible.
Sukkot commemorates the forty years’ journey of the Jewish people from Egypt in route to the Promised Land. During those years in the desert HaShem provided us with food and water, and satisfied all our needs. God also granted us a special Divine Protection in the desert against weather inclemencies, wild animals and other dangers. By moving into the Sukka and leaving the safety and security of our solid homes, we are reenacting those glorious days when we were under His direct protection, which is ultimately the protection that matters the most. The sukka, which we called a house without a roof, indeed reminds us from the days we spent in the desert, where what we mainly needed was protection from the sun, not from rain or storms, etc.
There are many details and specifications as to how to build the Sukka.
The basic principles are:
WALLS: The walls must be built first, before the sekhakh (covering). The walls could be made of any material capable of withstanding an average wind. This is the reason rabbi Obadia Yosef z”l recommended avoiding using fabric for the walls, and using instead wood or acrylic panels.
SEKHAKH: On top of the walls we place the ‘sekhakh’. For the sekhakh we can use all kind of branches: bamboo branches, or leafy branches, palm branches, etc. There are special curtains made of reeds or bamboo that can be used for this purpose.
SHADOW vs. RAIN: The ‘sekhakh’ should be rich enough to provide a shadow, but it has to be fragile enough to allow the rain into the Sukka. An impermeable “hut” is not considered a Sukka and therefore is not valida (pesula).
Most of the Halakhot of building a Sukka are identical for Sephardim and Ashkenazim. See this for a specific rule about the walls, by R. Obadia Yosef z”l.
How to build a solid Sukka (Hebrew)
Mr. Tom Norris, an architect from Phoenix, Arizona, showing us how he builds his Sukka in 30 minutes, for 180 dollars.
|30 minute Sukkah|