On the face of it, the date of the holiday of Succot seems to be out of place. The Torah teaches us that the purpose of Succot is “so that your later generations will know that I caused The Children of Israel to dwell in succot when I took them out of the Land of Egypt” [Leviticus 23:43]. This could be a hint of the event that is described in the Torah portion of Bo: “And the Children of Israel traveled from Raamses to succot” [Exodus 12:37], meaning that the people sat then in succot, temporary booths. This is true whether we accept the word at face value as meaning physical booths or if we say that it refers to the Clouds of Glory (which is the subject of a dispute between the rabbis). But this event took place on the fifteenth of Nissan, on the holiday of Pesach. Thus, Succot should take place during Pesach. Why has it been put off for a full six months?
To answer this question, we note that the holiday of Pesach emphasizes the difference between Israel and the other nations. On Pesach we reject the negative side of the other nations: “Pour out Your anger on the nations which do not know You and on the families which do not call out in Your name” [Jeremiah 10:25]. However, Succot is a universal holiday, when we invite the other nations to participate in the festivities. All the nations will ascend to Jerusalem on Succot, and when the Temple exists we even bring seventy sacrifices on Succot in order to atone for actions of the seventy nations of the world.
This implies that Succot is the equivalent of Pesach for the other nations of the world. If the time had been ripe when the Exodus from Egypt took place, all the nations of the world would have been rescued from their internal bondage at the same time that we left Egypt, and Succot would indeed have taken place at the same time as Pesach. The universal holiday would have been combined with the national holiday of the Children of Israel. However, since neither the other nations nor Israel merited to have this happen at the time, their redemption was delayed until some future date, and their holiday takes place in Tishrei, at the time of year which is the new year for the other nations. In the end, then, the Hebrew year consists of three time periods. (1) Pesach celebrates the release of Israel from Egypt, in the past. (2) Shavuot marks the giving of the Torah, which takes place anew every single day, in the present. (3) The third holiday, Succot, marks the time for a future event – the redemption of all the peoples of the world at the same time as Israel reaches its final and last redemption.
There is also another hint here. In order to become reconciled with the other nations, leading to an uplifting of all the souls of mankind, there is a need to pass through the Days of Awe as a way of deleting all the sins and failures of mankind. Only in this way will Israel be able to once again meet with the other nations of the world, and they will help reunite Israel with the world of nature. The nation of Israel has struggled against nature for thousands of years, since the cultures with an affinity to nature were always related to idol worship. Only at the end of days will it be possible to see sanctity within nature. The main rituals of the holiday are to take hold of fresh branches that come from the realm of nature and to bring them into a temporary home that is made up of green vegetation, in order to reunite with the sanctity that is part of nature. And this is a description of the great primordial lights which are being preserved just the way they are, so that they can be revealed in the distant future.
Source: “AS SHABBAT APPROACHES” – a biweekly column in Shabbat B’Shabbato, Succot 5775, Volume 1545. (Zomet Institute) See: www.zomet.org.il/eng