Thursday, September 23, 2010


Sukkah-Booth or Tabernacle:The Israelites temporary dwellings after the Exodus 
The first month of the Hebrew Calendar, Tishrey (תִּשְׁרֵי), is a month of joy and renewal, of self-examination (חֶשְׁבּוֹן נֶפֶשׁ, xeshbon nefesh) and absolution. This is a month of the changing of the seasons– not only in terms of climate, but also a change of seasons in the heart, in our relationships with ourselves, with others and with the Creator. On the first day of Tishrey, the Jewish people celebrate  New Year (Rosh Hashanah; ten days later they observe the holiest day of the year – Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּפּוּר  known as the Day of Atonement). In the middle of the month of Tishrey, under a full moon,  Sukot is celebrate (סֻכּוֹת), one of the three biblically-mandated holidays, in which Jewish people used to make pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem. For seven days they sit in a Suka (booth, tabernacle) in memory of the fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt after the exodus from Egypt. And, on the day that follows the Festival of Sukot (סֻכּוֹת), Jews celebrate שמחת תּוֹרָה   (Simxat Torah, Rejoicing of the Torah) - the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah (The Five Books of Moses) readings, and the beginning of a new cycle.
US Army Sukkah in Iraq 
 According to the Bible, the Festival of Sukot has an agricultural, as-well-as historical origin. This is a holiday in which the completion of the harvest is celebrated and the nation is thankful for the bounty of nature in the year that has passed. Therefore, it is also named חַג הָאָסִיף (xag ha’asif, The Feast of Ingathering”.
The Seven Species
In the Book of Leviticus, God told Moses to command the people to live in a booth (סֻכָּה, suka) for seven days, to ensure that future generations remember that G-d made the Children of Israel live in booths when they were brought out of the land of Egypt. Although they wondered in the desert for 40 years, their spirit was not broken and they became a nation.
Sukkah in Monument Valley, Utah
Sukkah in Santiago, Chile
בַּסֻּכתֵּשְׁבוּ, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים; כָּל-הָאֶזְרָח, בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, יֵשְׁבוּ, בַּסֻּכֹּת. לְמַעַן, יֵדְעוּ דֹרֹתֵיכֶם, כִּי בַסֻּכּוֹת הוֹשַׁבְתִּי אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּהוֹצִיאִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:  אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. (וַיִּקְרָא כ"ג מב-מג).

Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are home-born in Israel shall dwell in booths; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:42-43)

It is custom to invite guests to the Suka – there are “real” guests such as family and friends and “spiritual” guests calledאושפיזין  (ushpizin). The spiritual guests are the seven fathers of the nation: Abraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aaron, Joseph, and David.

We invite you to join our virtual Suka, wave the Four Species, and sing about a Suka of peace. In this holiday, you must rejoice as commanded in the Torah: וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְּחַגֶּךָ(vesamaxta bexagexa).

 Hag Sameah lekulam and G'mar Hatima Tova. Happy Holidays to all and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life.

By Shira Cohen-Regev of eHebrewTeacher Newsletter
Photos from

Seven Species photos.....Via image courtesy of the JNF-KKL photo archive. All other images: Wikipedia.

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