First day Sukkot 2021, Torah Reading
There is a strange command in this Torah reading…
“You shall dwell in booths for a seven day period every native in Israel”
It seems strange is because the message was directed to the wandering Jews who had already been living in “booths” for close to forty years, they were not natives to Israel, and had never set foot in the place.
I suspect the last thing these Jews wanted to do was continue to dwell in booths, when they finally arrived at their destination, even for one week a year. Especially since they had been city dwellers when back in Egypt, and their current accommodation was not five star by any means
I suspect Hashem was once more delivering a cryptic message with his command. Since G-d lives in the present, past and future simultaneously, He was wanting to bolster the morale of the wandering Jews in exile, by pre-empting their status whilst they were still in the desert, wondering when they would get to their destination, and having no crystal ball.
In G-d’s view the Jews were already natives of Israel, because of all the effort they had made to arrive thus far. He afforded them citizenship as a way of inspiring them to keep going. The booth dwelling was a reminder of the context of their struggle.
The command reminds me of the stories of impoverished Jews, putting on their Shabbos best clothing, despite living in poverty. Their surrounds suddenly improved dramatically, just because of the garment change, and what it did for their self-image.
I believe the same principle applies to us nowadays. When we sit in our humble sukkah, and the rain leaks in (every September in Melbourne), we also need to remember we are Am Israel, the people (natives ) of Israel, and that our surrounds will never be onerous or wet enough to dampen (pun) our enthusiasm for our wonderful rituals and traditions.