Tonight we begin to celebrate the Holiday of Succos, as Jews throughout the world mark the time period by eating in the Succah for Seven days. The Torah tells us that the reason for this mitzvah is to remember that Hashem put us in Succos when we left Egypt. There is a very obvious question that this raises. We left Egypt at the Holiday of Passover, during the Spring. Why then, would we mark this fact in a celebration half a year later - in the fall?
There are many approaches to this question. We will present three of them below:
1) The Tur says that if we sat in the Succah in the Spring, in would not be recognizable that we are doing so for a mitzvah. Many people leave their homes at this time of year for the comfort of a cooler outdoors. Only in the fall, when people are going back into their homes, do we leave the home to show that we do so for the mitzvah.
2) The Aruch Hashulchan explains that when the Jews did the sin of the Golden Calf in the wilderness after they left Egypt, Moses broke the tablets. Hashem forgave them on Yom Kippur. He commanded them to make a Tabernacle afterwards, to show them that He had forgiven them for their sin. In a similar manner, every year we go through judgment on Rosh Hashanah, followed by forgiveness on Yom Kippur. To show that there was atonement, Hashem tells us to go into a Succah, which represents being told to bask in the presence of the Almighty.
3) A third approach suggested for this question is based on the different times of year in the agricultural cycle. Passover time, a person is nervous wondering what will be the results of the coming year’s crops that he is planting now. He is by nature attuned to lifting his eyes to Heaven and asking Hashem for help. In the fall, however, when a person is gathering in the produce of the year, he may focus on enjoying his bounty and forget about serving Hashem. Therefore the Torah tells him in this particular time to leave his permanent home and recognize the temporary nature of all that is in this world, to set his priorities in this world straight.