Every Jewish holiday has one or two chief elements that truly characterize the biblical significance of the festival day. These times have been appointed by G-d in order to bless us with His revelation. Although each has a fulfillment in a past event, each of the holidays point to a future fulfillment related to the Kingdom of G-d. Obviously, for Sukkot, i.e., the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the main elements is the sukkah “booth” itself. In the book of Leviticus 23, verses 33-36 HaShem speaks about this special time of eight days. During the first seven, one is required to dwell in the sukkah. One of the main aspects of the sukkah is that it is a temporary dwelling structure. The key idea here is temporary.
The children of Israel had to dwell 40 years in the wilderness because of a lack of faith in G-d. These 40 years, in comparison to the years of one’s life, are a relatively long period of time. But, for the history of the Jewish people, it was but a small portion of time. The reason why G-d brought the children of Israel out of Egypt was not for them to dwell in the wilderness, but rather to enter into the Promised Land. What do these things say to us today?
Our life in this world is but a fraction of our eternal destiny. But what we need to remember is that this fraction is all preparation for the Kingdom. Therefore, one must live with a Kingdom mindset. When one studies the Bible, he finds that one of the most faithful individuals was John the Baptist. How is he connected to Sukkot? Scripture reveals that John was the one who fulfilled the prophecy concerning the prophet in the wilderness. John represented many of the other Levitical priests who left the work at the temple in Jerusalem and went into the wilderness to cry out to G-d for Him to move against the corruption that characterized the ruling priests of the latter second temple period. They wanted G-d to intervene and restore His righteousness to the work of the temple.
If one studies the section in Isaiah 40 that relates to John, he can see the emphasis of this passage on repentance. Unfortunately, the people for the most part did not heed this message, and G-d’s judgment fell upon the temple in Jerusalem. The people had not turned away from G-d in just one moment; their falling away represented a long process of focusing on the wrong things.
Sukkot is a time when we remember that the things of this world are temporary. This is why G-d commanded us those seven days to dwell in the sukkah. It is a time of remembering where our priorities and emphases should be. In the same way that the children of Israel during the 40 years wanted to return to Egypt and remembered the things of Egypt, we too struggle with desiring the material over the spiritual. Such a tendency is difficult to overcome. This is made evident in the fact that the 40 years was for the generation which came out of Egypt to die out and a new generation which did not have the connection with Egypt, to actually inherit the promise. G-d promises that anyone who is in Messiah is a new creation and the old things have passed away. The week of Sukkot is a great time to see those things which represent Egypt in your life and for them to be put to death by the biblical hope in the Kingdom of G-d.