There is a debate in the gemarra (Sukkah 11b) as to what our Sukkahs commemorate. Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion is that we commemorate the clouds of glory that HaShem protected Klal Yisrael with in the desert, whilst Rabbi Akiva’s opinion is that we are commemorating the fact that Bnei Yisrael actually lived in Sukkahs in the desert on the way out of Egypt. Now Rabbi Eliezer’s view is easily understandable; we relive HaShem’s protection of us and give thanks to Him for it. But what about Rabbi Akiva - what exactly are we commemorating; why is it significant that Bnei Yisrael happened to live in huts in the desert? There are two approaches here; the Ramban and the Rash bam - both on Vayikra 23:43. The Ramban writes that we are noting and reliving that even though we lived in primitive huts in the desert, we still lacked nothing - HaShem provided us with everything we needed. But the Rashbam puts another slant on it. He writes that on Sukkos we remember that we did not always live in houses and cities and did not always have a hold in the Land of Israel. Once we re-sensitise ourselves to these, thus appreciating that even our very houses are cause to thank HaShem for, we are imbued with a feeling of humility and thankfulness to HaShem. This is especially apt for Sukkos - the time of the harvest - for it ensures that we do not have the self-dependent attitude of ‘I did all this without needing HaShem,’ and instead thank HaShem for the success of the harvest. Indeed, this is why the word ezrach (guest) is used by the Torah (Vayikra 23:42) in relation to our living in the Sukkah - for the Sukkah reminds us that we are only temporary guests; just like a guest who is dependent upon his host, we can take nothing for granted and we must appreciate everything that we have. May we merit to spend as much time in the Sukkah as possible this Sukkos - realising that every second spent there is a mitzvah and an opportunity to be ingrained with kedusha and a feeling of gratitude to HaShem for all His kindness.

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