Q. Since intention is a very important part of any mitzva, what is the right kavanah that one should have when making the bracha on the sukka? the intention to remember the Ananei Kavod (clouds of honor) or the material sukot that the nation constructed when exiting Mitzraim?
A. Talmud Sukka (11b), mentions a disagreement between Rabi Eliezer and Rabi Akiva as to what the posuk “I made the children of Yisroel reside in sukkos” (Vayikra 23: 43), is referring to. Rabi Eliezer maintains that they were clouds of honor, while Rabi Akiva opines they were actual common sukkos.
Shulchan Aruch (625: 1) rules that they were clouds of honor that protected the nation from the heat of the sun. So also do Rashi and Ramban. Since we usually follow the opinion of Rabi Akiva in a disagreement with Rabi Eliezer, Bach explains that they follow the translation of the Targum.
However, P’ri Megodim (M”Z ibid), quotes Rashbam who rules like Rabi Akiva. While Birkei Yosef mentions that there is a variant version of the Talmud that reverses the names of the opinions quoted.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a