Names are quite fascinating.

When choosing a name for a child, one thinks long
and hard before the decision as it will be what he is called for the rest of his life.
Sometimes we pick middle names also, and this gives the child a bit more
freedom to choose how he'd like to be addressed. When we start a business,
one of the first things we do is choose its name. The name should generally give
a clue as to the significance of the business. The same is true with holiday
names. Based on the name of the holiday, we should be given a clue as to the
meaning of the day. On the second day of Rosh Hashana Ì explained the
meanings of its four names, and how they relate to the holiday. The names for
Pesach and Shavot also all make sense. Yet Sukkot, which is a logical name on
account of our huts we dwell in, is also called Zman Simchateinu ÷ The time of
our joy. Are the other holidays not joyful? One could argue that maybe they're
more enjoyable. Why is Sukkot Zman Simchateinu?
Ìn order to answer this question, we need to analyze the Shalosh Regalim and
investigate their names. Each Regel, each one of these holidays, has many
dimensions. There is the agricultural aspect, the liturgical aspect and the
historical aspect.
On Pesach, the agricultural focus is on the barley harvest as we have the Omer
offering. On Shavuot, also called Chag Hakatzir, the festival of cutting, we have
the Shtei Halechem offering featuring the wheat harvest. Finally Sukkot, coming
after summer is also called Chag Ha'Asif, the festival of gathering. This really is
the final and largest Harvest of the year in which the farmer collects all his crops,
so he can begin planting anew before winter.

Liturgically, each of the festivals represents the time of year that something
Fundamental happened. Pesach is called Zman Cheiruteinu ÷ The time of our
freedom, obviously making sense on account of the exodus. Shavuot is referred
to as Zman Matan Torateinu ÷ The time of the giving of our Torah, also featuring
the main event of Shavuot. Sukkot though is Zman Simchateinu ÷ The time of
our happiness. What makes Sukkot so much happier than all other holidays?
What historical event took place this time of year, which was supposed to
increase our happiness?
Sukkot is generally believed to relate to the Ananei Hakavod or clouds of glory
that Hashem provided us in the desert, or else the actual Sukkot the Jews
dwelled in. Either way, does either of these provide more Simcha than the other
holidays? Furthermore, how can we call it a Zman, a specific time? We had the
clouds for all forty years in the desert. Ìt doesn't seem right to relate it to one
particular time.
Perhaps the answer may lie in another kind of Sukkah. On Sukkot, in Birkat
Hamazon, we add in a request that Yakim Lanu Et Sukkat David HaNofalet ÷ that
Hashem restore the fallen Sukkah of King David. Regarding Sukkot, we say
V'Samachta Lifnei Hashem ÷ and you shall rejoice before G-d, which teaches the
law that when the Beit Hamikdash stood, we would celebrate with the Lulav all
seven days in the temple, but only on the first day outside of it. The Simchat Beit
HaShoeiva, which according to the Talmud, one never experienced joy unless he
attended one, took place on Sukkot. This was a festive gathering Ìn the Beit
Hamikdash featuring wild dancing and acrobatics as the Kohanim drew the water
for the rite of Nisuch Hamayim, water libations on the altar. To this day, we still
have big Sukkot celebrations we call by the original name. The Haftara we read
on the second day of Yom Tov features Shlomo's dedication of the Beit
Hamikdash. Ìn English, the holiday is called Tabernacles. By contrast, our day of
sadness and misery is Tisha B'Av, which commemorates the destruction of the
Temples. We still commemorate the rededication of the second temple on
Chanukah, and we still commemorate the dedication of the Mishkan by avoiding
Tachanun the first twelve days of Nissan.
Ìf we still commemorate the dedication of the Mishkan and Second Temple, what
about the first Beit Hamikdash? Ìf we can detect a pattern, our greatest joy and
misery as a nation go hand and hand with the Beit Hamikdash.
Ìt must be that Zman Simchateinu is the commemoration of the building of the
first Beit Hamikdash of King Shlomo, which is the direct opposite of the
destruction which is our greatest tragedy ÷ hence this is our greatest joy! Thus
our mystery is solved. The Sukkah that brings this great joy is the Sukkah on
Temple Mount ÷ the Beit Hamikdash. Thus Sukkot concludes, the Shalosh
Regalim, the period known as the High Holidays and the mourning over our lost
temple, which it turns to hope and prayer for Hashem to bring it back!
While Sukkot do commemorate the Sukkot we had in the desert and the clouds
of glory, the main aspect of Sukkot was perhaps the joy we had in the Beit
Hamikdash. Even though we don't have it yet, we remember the happiness it
brought us. May it be rebuilt speedily swiftly and soon, BiMhera BeYamenu
Amen.

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