Sukkot

Sukkot

Sukkot History

Sukkot (Hebrew: סוכות), meaning Tabernacles, is the autumnal 'foot festival' in which the Jews are commanded to leave their permanent houses and to dwell in booths for seven days. The idea behind this is to remember that the Israelites lived in booths in the Wilderness for forty years. Additionally, when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, this was a pilgrimage holiday to celebrate the harvest.  

Tabernacles are typically built out of wood, sheets and have a roof of a natural product, such as leaves, palm branches, through which the stars can be seen at night. The Succah must be built of certain dimensions (not too low or too high) and should have three or four walls.  

On Succot, it is customary for Jewish men buy a set of the four kinds/species comprising a lulav (a palm branch), an etrog (a citron), hadassim (myrtle) and aravot (willows).

Sukkot Facts & Quotes

  • Sukkot is also a harvest festival, and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif, the Festival of Ingathering.  No work is permitted on the first day, but some work is allowed on the intermediate days which are known as Chol Hamoed.
  • Each day of Succot is associated with Ushpezin (visitors), one of seven Succah visitors.  Each day has its visitor, starting with Abraham.  The other visitors are: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon.
  • The book of Ecclesiastes is typically read in Synagogues.  This book relates to the futility of man under the sun, but concludes optimistically with the notion that we should just do our thing and serve God.
  • There is a special Priest's (Cohen's) blessing performed at the Western Wall during Succot.  The Western Wall is the last surviving wall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the side of the Temple Mount.  Thousands of Priests, who are believed to be descendants of the original priests, assemble at the Western Wall and perform blessings.

  • In the days of Nehemiah, an original Bible was found with the passages relating to the building of a Succah.  
    All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel (Nehemiah 8:1).
    They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month (Nehemiah 8:14).

Sukkot Top Events and Things to Do

  • Purchase or make your own Sukkah.  They are typically designed to be assembled and disassembled quickly - in less than two hours by two people.
  • One can buy the four kinds (of material used to build Sukkot as per the Torah) or order them from Israel. The four kinds include palm branches, an Etrog (citron), three willow branches and two myrtle branches. The palm, myrtle and willow are bound together in a palm holder.
  • See the movie Ushpezim with English subtitles.  It which relates to the four kinds and a couple's efforts to buy a most beautiful four species set, despite their poor economic situation.  Ushpizin can be viewed on YouTube.
  • Read the book of Ecclesiastes or watch a lecture about it.  It was written by King Solomon.  It relates to the futility of life, apart from basic belief and being righteous.
  • Attend a local Succot fair.  


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