1

In Nechemia ch.8:13-15

And on the second day, the heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, gathered to Ezra the scholar, and to understand the words of the Torah; And they found written in the Torah that the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses that the Children of Israel dwell in booths on the festival in the seventh month. And that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain and bring olive leaves and leaves of oil trees, myrtle leaves, date palm leaves, and leaves of plaited trees, to make booths, as it is written... And the people went forth and brought [them] and made booths for themselves, each one on his roof and in their courts and in the courts of the House of God, and in the square of the Water Gate, and in the square of the Gate of Ephraim. And all the congregation of the returnees from the captivity made booths and dwelt in the booths, for they had not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day, and there was exceedingly great joy.

which implies the people forgot the mitzva of sukka. is this correct?

2

Judaica Press commentary on 8:14 says

And the found written ...

It seems very strange that the Jews did not know anything about the mitzvah of sukkah ...

The commentary states that it was not that they did not know about the mitzvah of sukkos.

Judaica Press cites Malbim and others that this refers to Yerushalayim as specified in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 637:3 that a sukkah may not be made in reshus harabim (a public domain). Yerushalayim was not part of the nachalah owned by the tribes and the entire city was public domain. Ezra issued a takana to build sukkos in Yerushalayim. Before this, Yehoshua had not made the takkana so even in the time of David and Shlomo no sukkos were built in Yerushalayim, though they were built in the rest of Eretz Yisroel in reshus hayachid.

Thus, is it implies that they had known and kept the mitzvah but had not built sukkos in Yerushalayim (reshus harabim).

The Judaica Press commentary on 8:17 says that they had not read the Torah every day during Succos since the time of Yehoshua. However, they had kept Succos.

for they had not done - i.e., they performed the mitzvah in the best possible manner, as had not been done since the days of Joshua bin Nun. - [Metzudas David] Ralbag explains that since the days of Joshua the people had not celebrated Sukkos in such a way that all the Jews were of one accord to serve Hashem and read the Torah every day. It appears that in the days of Yehoshua they had read the Torah. It could also mean that they constructed the sukkos wholeheartedly with the intention of observing Hashem's commandment.

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    thanks. what about "And they found written in the Torah that the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses that the Children of Israel dwell in booths on the festival in the seventh month" which implies it was forgotten – ray Jun 26 '15 at 10:37
  • @ray I added the appropriate citation to handle that question. – sabbahillel Jun 26 '15 at 12:02

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