Sukkos

On Sukkos, when saying Birkas HaMazon after a meal, we add the following brief prayer: “The Compassionate One, may He raise up for us the fallen sukkah of David.” This prayer is patterned after a passage in Amos (verses 9:11-12): “On that day will I raise up the fallen sukkah of David, and I will close up its breaches and raise up its ruins, and I will build it up as in the days of old.” This passage appears in a section of Amos that is read as the haftarah of parashas Acharei Mos according to some customs and as the haftarah of parashas Kedoshim according to other customs. I present here a brief essay on the passage taken from Kochav MiYaakov, haftaras Acharei Mos. The essay is marked as being “from Naftali Maskileison,” who collaborated with Rav Avraham Beirush Flamm in the publication of Kochav MiYaakov. A number of commentaries in Kochav MiYaakov bear this annotation. I am not sure whether the annotation means that the commentary is one that the Maggid developed and Rav Maskileison had seen or heard, and passed on for inclusion in Kochav MiYaakov, or one that Rav Maskileison developed himself. In any event the commentary is an appropriate one for Sukkos.
The term “sukkah” generally denotes a booth of the type that is built in a field or vineyard to provide shelter for a watchman. A sukkah is typically a flimsy temporary structure made up of thin wooden beams, branches of trees, or straw. A regular building, by contrast, is built of thick wooden beams or stone or bricks, and is designed to last a long time. Each of these two types of structure has an advantage and a disadvantage relative to the other. A sukkah has the disadvantage of being flimsy and prone to collapse, but has the advantage of being easy to build and rebuild; the process of building a sukkah takes only a short time and does not require trained building personnel. A regular building, on the other hand, has the advantage of being strong and capable of standing for a long time – not being prone to collapse like a sukkah, but has the disadvantage that if it does fall it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to rebuild.
Now, the Beis HaMikdash is referred to as a sukkah. This name reflects the fact that it was destroyed, rebuilt, and then destroyed again. But the name also brings us encouragement, by calling to our attention that the Beis HaMikdash can be easily rebuilt whenever Hashem decides to do so. This dual meaning behind the use of the term “sukkah” is reflected in the passage from Amos. Hashem promises us that He will raise up the “fallen sukkah of David,” indicating that, when the time comes, the process of building the Beis HaMikdash will be quick and easy. But, lest we think that the third Beis HaMikdash will be like a sukkah in the sense of being destined to be destroyed just as the first two Batei Mikdash were destroyed, Hashem informs us otherwise. The third Beis HaMikdash will be like a sukkah only in that it will be built quickly; the Beis HaMikdash will never again fall. Hashem will close up the breaches that the Beis HaMikdash had in the past and raise up its ruins, and build it up as a firm, everlasting structure.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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