Many mitzvos are considered halachically fulfilled even if we do them thoughtlessly. Not so the mitzvah of sukkah, says the Bach. When sitting in a sukkah, we must know and think about why we’re sitting there.
The Torah says, “L’maan yeidu doroseichem ki basukos hoshavti es Bnei Yisrael b’hotzeisi eschem mei’Eretz Mitzrayim – In order that your generations should know that I had you dwell in coverings when I took you out of Egypt.” The Gemara states that “coverings” refers to the Clouds of Glory that saved the lives of millions of our ancestors when they traveled in the desert for 40 years after leaving Egypt. The clouds shielded us from the burning sun during the day and the frigid weather at night.
The Clouds of Glory were granted to us in the merit of Aharon HaKohen, and they alone among the three miracles in the desert are commemorated with a special Yom Tov. (Neither the miraculous mahn nor the miraculous well, in the merit of Moshe and Miriam, respectively, are commemorated in this fashion.) Obviously, then, Hashem wanted us to pay particular attention to the miracle of the clouds.
In what manner was Aharon distinguished? Why were Klal Yisrael protected with Clouds of Glory in his merit? Pirkei Avos teaches us that Aharon was unique in his pursuit of shalom. Pirkei Avos exhorts us, “Hevei mi’talmidav shel Aharon; ohev shalom v’rodeif shalom – Be a disciple of Aharon; love peace and pursue peace.”
In maariv of Shabbos, we say, “U’fros aleinu sukkas shlomecha – And cloak us with Your covering of peace.” There is a direct correlation between divine shelter (e.g., the Clouds of Glory) and the peace one keeps at home. The eternal message of Sukkos is that if we want a tzeila d’m’hemnusa – the Shadow of Hashem – to protect our family, we must endeavor to ensure that our homes are filled with peace.
In Megillas Rus, Naomi says to Rus and Orpah, “Mitzena menucha ishah beis ishah – May each of you find contentment in the home of your [future] husband.” With these words, the great Naomi defines the proper aura of a Jewish home: It should be a place of contentment, a place of ease and serenity.
If we want the new year of 5780 to be filled with Divine protection, we must try harder to reduce screaming and bickering in our homes. We must divest ourselves of the need to always have the last word and focus more on the defining factor of a Jewish home, which is peace at all costs. We must remember that the first thing we ask Hashem for in Attah Chonantanu as we start a new week is “yamim haba’im likraseinu l’shalom” – peaceful days.
If we want to keep sickness, thieves, termites, and other unpleasant things from our homes, we must make a concerted effort to create an aura of warmth for our families. Love in our homes, together with a healthy diet of Torah, is the best way to stave off all sorts of unpleasantness.
May it be the will of Hashem that, in the merit of these attempts, He bless all of us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.