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Browse Zemanim: Sukot: Humility

Contributed by: R. Shaul Chamoula

The missvah to sit in a sukkah is found in the following verse,
seven days shall you sit in a sukkah, every "Ezrah" in Yisrael shall sit in a sukkah.

The word can be translated as an aristocrat, i.e. an important person. The question arises, why does the Torah use the word in the missvah to sit in a sukkah, while in regards to the other holidays, the Torah doesn't use this word?

In answering this question, we must first discuss another point about the holiday of Sukot. The rabbis teach us that the Sukkah must be a " a temporary dwelling place. You can use any material you want for the walls, however, the height of the sukkah is limited to 20 amot (20-40ft). We learn in the Gemara that such a sukkah is invalid because such a sukkah would require stronger and more permanent walls, and it would no longer be considered a temporary dwelling place rather a permanent dwelling place. Why does the Torah insist on a temporary dwelling place? What is wrong with a sturdy, secure house? We can answer these questions with the following verse in the Torah. In Parashat Eqeb, Moshe warns the people that when you come into the land of Israel "and you shall build beautiful houses and dwell in them",
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be careful, you will become haughty and forget Hashem who took you out of Egypt. We learn from here, that it is only when a person is in a permanent house, secured with alarm systems, and has everything he needs, that he tends to forget about Hashem.

This is why the Torah uses the term by Sukot, and insists upon a temporary structure, in order to instill humility in us. Even the aristocrat or important person must humble himself by dwelling in the sukkah. We are reminded that even though B"H we have nice houses, and feel secure; we must realize that it all comes from Hashem. It's not because of our hard work, or our wisdom in business. You can be the smartest person, if Hashem doesn't send you the customer, what does your wisdom help you?

What does humility mean? Hovat Helevavot explains, that one achieves humility when one realizes that Hashem is before them, and how insignificant one truly is. This is why Moshe was the most humble person to ever live, because he had the greatest conception of Hashem.

What greater way to show humility, than to be careful what comes out of our mouth while we are sitting in the Sukkah! Harambam writes that a person should always produce silence. And the Gemara states that the job of a human being in this world is to make himself like a deaf person. Silence testifies that you are aware that a greater force is among you. This brings us back to exercising humility by realizing how thee is a
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