Understanding the progression of the Feast of Booths.
In Sukkot, we receive the life, the health and all the goodness that we asked from Hashem during the past days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The happiness that we feel, we sanctify by doing all of the activities of our daily life in the Sukkah; by doing this, we fulfill a mitzvah of unique character, because when a person is in the Sukkah , he or she is participating with all his body and his soul—from his intellect and emotion down to his physical dimension— not just with one part of himself in the Mitzvah.
When our ancestors crossed the desert before entering the Holy Land, clouds of glory shielded them on all sides from danger and discomfort. Since then, we recall G-d’s kindness and demonstrate our trust in his providence by constructing a Sukkah, a temporary, three- or four-walled structure directly under the sky, with no trees or anything above. For the roof, we can use any cut inedible vegetation that will last for seven days and provide more shade than sunlight, such as pine branches, palm leaves, and bamboo.
For seven days, we make the Sukkah our official home. We eat our meals there and try to include anything else that we would normally do in the house, like reading or talking with a friend. We can fill our Sukkah with guests, sing, tell stories, relax, and speak words of Torah. Each time you enter the Sukkah to eat a meal, say this blessing: “Baruj Ata Ado-nay, Eloheinu Melej Haolam Asher Kideshanu, Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Leshev BaSukkah.”
The Zohar teaches that on each of the seven days of Sukkot, we are joined in our Sukkah by seven spiritual honored guests: Abraham, representing the divine attribute of kindness; Isaac, representing restraint; Jacob, representing beauty and balance; Moses, representing eternity and perseverance; Aaron, representing splendor; Joseph, representing spiritual foundation and King David, representing sovereignty.
The Sukkah encompasses its visitors in unison. In this way, the Sukkah reveals the simple and beautiful oneness of a people rooted in the oneness of their creator, for unity transcends our differences. This unity is also expressed by blessings of four kinds: The etrog, the lulav, the Hadas and the aravah. The etrog (citron) has both a pleasant taste and smell, representing one who is both knowledgeable in Torah and does mitzvot. The lulav (branch of the date palm), whose fruit is tasty but has no scent, represents one who is accomplished in Torah, though less so in mitzvot. The hadas (myrtle branch) is tasteless but aromatic, representing one, who though lacking in Torah knowledge, is observant in mitzvot. The scentless and tasteless aravah (willow branch) represents the individual who lacks in both Torah and mitzvot. When we are bound together, each individual makes up for that which is lacking in the others. It is not possible to do this mitzvah if one of the four kinds is missing.