The Sukkah is a temporary structure in which we eat, read, study and even sleep. It is a reminder of the tents that the Israelites lived in during their wandering in the wilderness. The commandment to "dwell" in a sukkah can be fulfilled by simply eating all of one's meals there; however, if the weather, climate, and one's health permit, one should spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, including sleeping in it.
Here are some guidelines to help you build your own.
- It should be out in the open. It should not be built inside your house or garage.
- A sukkah must have at least two and a half walls covered with a material that will not blow away in the wind. A sukkah may be any size, so long as it is large enough for you to fulfill the commandment of dwelling in it.
- It must not have more than one permanent wall.
- Decorate the sukkah with mementoes of God’s faithfulness such as fruits and vegetables, pictures of loved ones, flowers, children’s drawings, pay stubs, car keys… be creative. Have each person from the family bring a few things to celebrate how God has been faithful to them this year. You can also decorate with traditional American harvest décor. Just let the Sukkah reflect the faithfulness of God.
- Don’t try to make it too comfortable. Let the cool breeze remind you of the changing of seasons and the continual work of God throughout generations. Let a little discomfort remind you that the Lord is building you a future home that will provide you with a whole new meaning of the word ‘home’.
- The roof of a sukkah is called a schach. According to some traditions the schach “must be made of plant material like tree bark, bamboo, reeds, or palm branches. The Schach must come from the earth, yet be detached from the earth. The Schach is not meant to be a very useful roof — you must be able to see sky through it. A good rule is that a little more than 50% of the roof should be covered. It is this unusual thing called Schach which make the Succah unique and filled with symbolism.”
Sukkah can be ordered online, built from scratch or improvised. Let me encourage you to be creative. Building and decorating a sukkah is a fun family project, much like decorating the Christmas tree combined with building a fort. The sukkah is great fun for the children. Plan ahead to make your sukkah a place of worship unique to your family and this year’s bounty of God’s faithfulness.
Sleeping in the Sukkah
Many families love sleeping outside. My family sleeps in a tent next to our Sukkah. This allows us to keep our Sukkah clean and decorated only with things that remind us of God's faithfulness . The tent also helps keep our things dry in case of rain. The combination works well for my family. Tell us what works well for yours.