Why do we eat in the Succah?

The Torah tells us to eat in a Succah to remember that when we left Egypt we lived in “Succos” in the desert under G-d’s direction and protection.  (There is a dispute in the Talmud if this is referring to Succahs like we sit in (huts) or the miraculous clouds that Hashem gave us in the desert for protection, but that’s for a different discussion). This means that Succos is really a continuation of Pesach – the Exodus – raising a different question of why we celebrate it now and not in the spring! Let’s leave that alone for time being, too. Drifting back to our point, why is it important for us to commemorate that Hashem had us in huts in the desert when we left Egypt and remember it every year? Rabbi Dessler explains; what was it like to have left Egypt, to have been slaves and now become free? What are we free to become? What was the purpose of our freedom? Was it to be like every other nation of the world and use that freedom for materialistic prosperity? Was it to settle in the land and have a thriving Jewish country in Israel? The Jews leaving Egypt would’ve had in their heads the definition of freedom and success as being like the upper classes in Egypt who lived in big estates and has slaves and had luxurious setting. That would be the immediate natural goal.Instead Hashem had them live for months, and then years in huts in the desert. This allowed them to develop into a free people without any opportunity to get caught up in building a house, obtaining property, building an estate and the like. Here, in the desert they were to “develop themselves” as a people and as individuals without the illusion that they are to be defined by their material goods. Here they could become a people who would grow as a community without all the material distractions of a home and property.Tell me, were our Jewish values stronger and our community mindset stronger when we all lived together in one neighborhood, (with limited options) on the North side or now that were are spread all over and can live anywhere? Has that strengthened us as a people? Has it given us a better perspective on what is important in life? Or has it made it easier to forget those around us? To make sure we are insulated from even seeing those who have less than us? Hasn’t it distracted us with the never ending search for the “perfect house”? It seems like it has given us a never ending series of worries about improvements and design in our houses, new furniture and landscaping and all that comes with it. None of these things are inherently bad, but they do distract us from realizing who we are and what is really important.
Sitting in the Succah, away from all of those distractions can be a great opportunity to reassess our priorities and focus in life.
 

Much more to say on this topic, I’ll let you all think about this and respond with some ideas.

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