Chag HaSukkot comes five days after Yom Kippur, but it is difficult to perceive a direct connection between the holidays. On Yom Kippur we ask for forgiveness for our sins, while on Sukkot we celebrate God’s care for the Jews living in Sukkot in the Midbar. What is the relationship between these two holidays, just five days apart?
According to the Sefat Emet, the relationship is very close and direct. We know that on the first Yom Kippur, Bnei Yisrael camped at the foot of Har Sinai, as that was the day on which Moshe came down from the mountain with the second set of Luchot. On that day, Bnei Yisrael received atonement for their sins, in particular for the Cheit HaEigel. The Cheit occurred on 17 Tammuz, but it was not until Yom Kippur, 80 days later, that they were forgiven. But how did they know that they were truly forgiven, and that Hashem would dwell among them again?
According to Rashi in Vayakhel (Shemot 35:1), following the Midrash, Hashem commanded the building of the Mishkan on the day immediately following Yom Kippur. When BneiYisrael heard that they were commanded to build a Mishkan for Hashem’s Presence, they rejoiced because they knew they were truly forgiven.
A Sukkah, says the Sefat Emet, is also a dwelling place for Hashem’s Presence, a sort of miniature Mishkan. The Gemara tells us (Sukkah 9a), “Chal Sheim Shamayim Al HaSukkah,” “The Name of Heaven rests on the Sukkah.” When we begin building our Sukkot immediately after Yom Kippur, we show that we also believe that our sins were forgiven on Yom Kippur and that Hashem will dwell with us. This connection to Yom Kippur helps to give Chag HaSukkot a special level of Simcha.