Chapter 33: Verse 17. And Yaakov traveled to Succos and built a house for himself and made succos (shelters) for his livestock; He therefore called the name of the place, Succos.”
After parting with his brother, Esav, Yaakov continued on his way to Israel to reunite with his father. The verse tells us that he traveled to an area that he would later call “Succos” because he built barns or shelters for the livestock. The question is why he would name a city after the barns he constructed for the animals? What is the significance of these barns that he would name a city after them? I heard Rabbi Yitzchak Leizerowski, Shlita, once quote the Ohr HaChaim saying that until this time, no one else had ever built stables or barns for animals. It was because of Yaakov’s compassion on the animals that he built these shelters. Since this was a novel idea at the time and a note-worthy act, it was appropriate to name the city after these shelters. At the time, I asked Rabbi Yisroel Meir Vogel, a old friend, why no one had built shelters before for animals. His opinion was that since there are not many trees in Israel, there is not much wood to construct shelters and to construct them from stone is quite arduous. In addition, animals are equipped to take care of themselves in the wild and should have no need for shelter.