Kenneth Cohen

The Joy of Succot

There is a particular emphasis on happiness, connected with the holiday of Succot. One of the names for this holiday, is זמן שמחתינו, the “Time of our joy.”

If one has taken this holiday season seriously, he will get to that emotion of absolute happiness. He has diligently attended all of the Selichot services. He prayed with deep emotion on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and he experiences an elevation of his soul.

Upon entering his beautiful and colorful Succah, he magically feels the Shechina, Divine Presence, descending into his temporary dwelling. He is transformed to a higher level of spirituality, and it feels good.

Not everyone is able to achieve this level of sanctity, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. If we didn’t get to this level this year, it is something to strive towards, next year.

The situation in the Beit Hamikdash, made it much easier to feel this joy. Having a Kohein Gadol intercede on our behalf, and being able to witness the red ribbon of scarlet, turn white, had to be very uplifting.

The celebration of the שמחת בית השואבה, literally, the happiness of the water drawing, was an amazing sight to behold. The Talmud says that one who has not witnessed the Simchat Beit Hashoeva, has not seen real joy in his lifetime.

There was non stop dancing, with music, jugglers, and acrobats. There were many who barely slept the entire week of Succot. It is also told that four beams, with four receptacles each, lit up all of Jerusalem. A woman who lived several kilometers away, would have enough light from the Temple, to thread a needle!

Succot is the holiday of happiness. But in order to feel that intense joy, we must apply ourselves in our service of Hashem. The results are most worthwhile.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at