Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Fallen Sukkah

A Torah Thought for Sukkot
By Rav Mordechai Rabinovitch
"On that day I shall erect the fallen sukkah of David and build it like the days of old" (Amos 9:11). This verse is the basis for the Sukkot addition to the Grace After Meals: May the Merciful One erect for us the fallensukkah of David. The Bible commentators explain that erecting the "sukkah of David" refers to the restoration of the Davidic kingdom.

But this seems odd. Why, of all things, depict the Kingdom of David as a fallen sukkah? And even if one were tempted to describe the fallen kingdom as a fallen sukkah, surely the renewal of the kingdom should be more than the erection of a sukkah?! The very term evokes an image of a hastily constructed flimsy booth. Is that the appropriate metaphor for the kingdom we envisage at the time of the redemption? A temporary structure that with difficulty stands for seven days?

A fascinating possibility emerges from a comment of one of the early authorities. Rokeach (Hil. Sukkot [ed. Shneerson, p. 117]) writes that when the Torah (Vayikra 23:43) commands us to live in booths during the festival of Sukkot "in order that your generations may know that I settled the people of Israel in sukkot when I took them out of Egypt", the period referred to is the period of the conquest of the Land of Israel led by Joshua. He bases this on a verse in Shmuel-II 11:11, which indicates that during the conquest of the Land of Israel, the Jewish soldiers dwelled in sukkot. We are thus commanded to remember that the people of Israel having been liberated from Egypt, conquered the Holy Land by means of an army whose camps consisted ofsukkot.

We can now understand the significance of the promise given by the prophet Amos and the prayer that we add to the Grace After Meals. The 'fallen sukkah of David' refers to the military might of the Jewish people, the army being the obvious expression of renewed sovereignty. The army whose camps consisted of sukkahbooths, will be erected again one day, and all its former glory restored. And it is for this that we pray: that that army of King David be restored speedily in our days! 

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