Here’s a thought: have you ever felt very inspired and uplifted by a great spiritual experience only to have real life wipe out any memory of it rather quickly?
A newborn baby, moments after birth, is taken by a midwife and wrapped up in a swaddling cloth. This serves to keep the newborn protected and warm. Having just emerged from the security and nurture of the womb, the baby is particularly vulnerable and sensitive. A good swaddling cloth gives him a sense of protection from the cold and harsh world out here.
But swaddling doesn’t last long. You rarely see teenagers wrapped up in a cloth with their arms behind their ears. (Though perhaps some should be.) Swaddling is a brief bridging stage between the safety of the womb and the hazards of real life. A well wrapped baby will eventually grow to face life unwrapped. The swaddle cloth just helps him get there.
Your soul needs that bridge too. You have emerged from the womb of Yom Kippur a pure and renewed soul. The negative residue from your past has been cleansed. Your soul is now tender and sensitive, and easily susceptible to the coldness of spiritual apathy and other moral germs floating in the air. You need some protection. You need to be swaddled. You need a Sukkah.
The Sukkah is the only mitzvah that you do with your whole being. The holy air of the Sukkah completely envelops and surrounds you. It turns everything you do into a holy act. Just eating and drinking and chatting in the Sukkah is a mitzvah, just because it is done in the divine shade of the Sukkah. When you sit in a Sukkah, you are being swaddled by sanctity.
Going from the highs of Yom Kippur straight back into the routine of the mundane world is like taking a new born from her mother’s womb straight out into the cold night. You just can’t do that. Sit in the Sukkah. Bask in its sacred shade. Be enwrapped in its warm embrace. Before you emerge back into the mundane cold world Sukkos will make your spiritual connection stick.
Mendel Bluming and Rabbi A”M