Sukkot (Hebrew: סוכות or סֻכּוֹת, sukkōt, Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles) is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (late September to late October). It is one of the three biblically-mandated Shalosh regalim on which Jews made pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem.
The festival of Sukkot is upon us now! This certainly is a busy and joyous season! What is Sukkot? Chag Sukkot / חג הסוכות , translated means “the feast of Tabernacles", occurs for seven days. There is a quick transition from the high holidays, with their somber mood of repentance to a holiday of rejoicing and celebration, for which the people are commanded to build a hut (Sukkah; plural, Sukkot / סוכות ) and make it their home.
The Torah identifies the Sukkah (booth) with the temporary dwellings in which the Israelites lived in the wilderness after they left Mitzrayim on their way to the Promised Land. The Feast of Tabernacles completes the sacred festivals of the seventh month. In contrast to the somber tone of Yom Teruah / Rosh HaShanah (Day of blowing of the trumpets / New Year) and the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Israel had passed through the season of repentance to redemption. There are four plants that are associated with the observance of Sukkot. The Hebrew name for these four plants is arbah minim (four species). Each species is different from the other and has its own special significance. The four consist of the lulav; myrtle (three sprags of hadasim); the willow; and the etrog. On Sukkot, people hold the four species together and say a special blessing over them in the Sukkah. This is sometimes known as "Benching Lulav and Etrog". The Lulav is a tall green palm branch. Its upright shape is said to represent righteousness. During the holiday of Sukkot, a person can express his happiness and gratitude by lifting up the Lulav towards God.
The Sukkah or Booth symbolizes man’s need to depend upon God for all his provisions. This is true in the spiritual realm as well. The booth is the physical body, which is a temporary dwelling place for our souls and spirits (Korintim Alef / 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We need the food that the Word of God provides (Mattityahu / Matthew 6:11; 4:4; Yochanan / John 6:33-35); the cleansing, rinsing, and washing that the Word of God brings to our lives (Efesim / Ephesians 5:26); and the shelter of HaShem’s protection over our lives. Sukkot reminds us that HaShem’s promises and love for us are true. Because of His Korban (draw near offering called Asham / Guilt offering, see Yeshayahu 53:10) we can pass from death to eternal life. He, Yeshua Melech HaMashiach dwells with us. Throughout history, and into the future, HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One blessed be He) sustains, rescues, redeems, shelters and delivers His people because of what Mashiach has done for them.
Here are some Basic rules:
- A sukkah must have at least three walls built out of durable materials that cannot be easily knocked down by wind.
- The roof or covering of the sukkah must be made with cut tree branches, unfinished wood strips, or bamboo poles.
- The roof of the sukkah must be exposed to the sky i.e. no roof over hanging or trees.
- The sukkah can be decorated to enhance the mitzvah (commandment) of living in it for a week.
- The sukkah is to be used for meals, entertaining guests, and for sleep.
These are just basic rules and there are exceptions to these rules. Basically, a Succah is not meant to be comfortable. It is still exposed to the elements such as rain, wind, cold, and bugs. Although, you are not required to eat or sleep in the Succah when it is raining.
Lastly, during the week of sukkot there is what is called the Ushpizin or the “Seven Shepherds”. The Seven Shepherds are 1. Abraham 2. Jacob 3. Isaac 4. Moses 5 Aaron 6. Joseph 7. David. One guest a night comes to visit the Sukkah of a family during the week of Sukkot. Because leaving the comforts of home to dwell in the Sukkah for a week is an extreme act of faith, each guest is invited to dwell in the Sukkah and teach each person how to live an honorable life.
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