What Is The Spiritual Meaning Of Sukkot

Larry Goldbaum, director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at UMass Amherst, added to the book (Bantam Books, 1982).

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Every Fall, Jews all around the world commemorate the festival of Sukkot by erecting a makeshift shelter known as a sukkah.

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, is derived from the Hebrew term sukkah, which means “hut” or “tabernacle” if you want to get fancy.

(1) Sukkot is a harvest festival in which we joyfully celebrate the abundance of treasures that the earth has bestowed upon us—and will hopefully continue to bestow upon us—during the growing season. This component of the festival dates back to pagan times and has included some strange practices such as throwing lemons at the king or pouring water on him. The shaking of the etrog (a lemon-like fruit) and lulav is a more subdued version of the lemon-throwing (a palm frond and willow and myrtle branches tied together). The shaking of the lulav and etrog in six directions is evocative of Native American customs, as is the usage of squash, maize, and cornstalks to decorate the sukkah (at least in this country).

(2) Sukkot also remembers a historical event: the forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert following our departure from Egypt until we arrived in Canaan (a/k/a Israel) “the land of promise”). In the desert, the Israelites led a nomadic existence, wandering from place to place and living in makeshift shelters designed to provide relief from the scorching sun. It's simple to see why the sukkah isn't designed to endure rain when viewed from this angle. In reality, Jewish law mandates that the sukkah's roof be open to the sky at least one-third of the time. Through the roof, you must be able to see the moon and stars.

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(3) In addition to the historical and harvest/pagan parts of the holiday, Sukkot includes a spiritual or metaphysical dimension: it serves as a reminder that we are subject to God/Nature as human beings, as the sukkah alone cannot protect us from the forces of Nature ( “God's acts”). The sukkah is supposed to be delicate—so delicate that it can be blown down by a strong wind (as occurred to my family's sukkah several years ago!). Its frailty serves as a stark reminder that humanity, and indeed all life, is dependent on God/Nature. It keeps our egos in check while reminding us that even the most powerful ruler is still a human being. Above all, it necessitates our belief in a force bigger than ourselves.

What is the biblical meaning of Sukkot?

Sukkot is the plural form of the Hebrew word sukkah, which refers to a makeshift shelter or home. Sukkot (Hebrew: booths) was originally an agricultural holiday that commemorated Biblical harvest times when workers would spend time harvesting in improvised huts that were erected in the fields during the harvest and then dismantled at the conclusion.

Sukkot is also linked to the Israelites' 40-year journey across the wilderness. “You shall reside in booths for seven days…that your generations may know that I had the Children of Israel dwell in booths when I carried them out of the land of Egypt,” says the Torah (Lev. 23:42-43).

Sukkot is related with a number of physical symbols. To begin with, there's the sukkah itself. Its configuration is strictly regulated, regardless of whether it's built of wood or metal (my house sukkah's frame is metal): size is inconsequential, but there must be a door and you must be able to see the sky through the roof.

Skakh, a name for bits of plant like as grain stalks, wood, or corn, is used to cover the roof of a sukkah. I, like most Jews, decorate the inside of my sukkah with lights, hanging fruits and vegetables (which bees adore at this time of year), and photos.

What does the sukkah represent in the holiday of Sukkot?

One of the three biblically based pilgrimage holidays known as the shalosh regalim is Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Tabernacles). It's an agricultural holiday that started out as a way of offering appreciation for the fruit harvest. Sukkot are hut-like shelters used by the Jews during their 40-year journey through the desert following their departure from Egypt. The sukkah, as a transitory housing, also signifies the fragility of all existence, therefore Sukkot is a time to appreciate the shelter of our homes and bodies.

Sukkot is commemorated by first erecting a sukkah. Jews are obligated to eat for eight days in the sukkah (seven in Israel), and some even sleep there for the entirety of the festival. The sukkah is decorated, and the first day is a holy day when most types of work are prohibited. The rabbis commanded that on the holiday, arbat ha'minim (four species) be held together and waved. The rabbinic version adds the following plants: etrog (fruit of the citron tree), lulav (palm frond), hadas (leaves of the myrtle tree), and aravah (leaves of the myrtle tree) (leaves from the willow tree). This ancient world waving event took place at the Temple.

Hoshanah Rabah is the name given to the seventh day of Sukkot. On that day, Jews in the synagogue round the chamber seven times while reciting the arbat ha'minim and special prayers.

Except for kreplach, there are no traditional Sukkot delicacies (stuffed dumplings). Meals for Sukkot can be inspired by the holiday's harvest origins, and can contain fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other harvest-related items. Of course, classic Jewish delicacies such as challah, chicken soup, and kugels can be offered on Sukkot (or any time of the year).

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How is Sukkot celebrated today?

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths, is a Jewish holiday that begins on the 15th day of the seventh month in the biblical calendar, which falls on October 9 this year. The seven-day holiday is based on God's command to Moses in the Book of Leviticus: “You shall live in booths seven days.” Today, believers commemorate the event by constructing sukkahs—temporary homes made of wood, canvas, or aluminum—and praying inside of them. The holy week also commemorates the flimsy shelters in which Israelites were forced to reside following their flight from Egypt for 40 years in the wilderness.

What happens during Sukkot?

During the festival of Sukkot, Jewish families construct a makeshift tent or shelter in their backyard. It's known as a sukkah (say “sook-kaw”). Meals are traditionally eaten in the sukkah. During the week-long celebration, some individuals even sleep in them.

How do you explain Sukkot to a child?

Sukkot is a season when the sukkah is used to entertain visitors for meals. The open booth is a nod to how the Children of Israel slept after fleeing slavery in Egypt, and it has a relation to the Passover story. It also resembles the temporary sun shelters used by farmers when they are planting in the fields.

Is Sukkot a high holy day?

The Sukkot Festival most likely began as an agricultural celebration, with the booths serving as temporary shelters for farmers as they collected grain to be processed for the year.

The Bible has traces of this agricultural remembrance, with one verse indicating that the festival should span seven days to commemorate the time when the Israelites stayed in booths, or makeshift houses made of branches, after leaving Egypt.

This feast was known as zeman simchatenu, or “the season of our celebrating,” referring to themes of thanksgiving, liberation from Egypt, and the reading of God's revelation to all Israel as described in the Torah.

The joyousness of the season contrasts with the solemn repentance and fasting of Yom Kippur. The Festival of Booths was so important that it was also known as “the chag,” or “the feast,” a term similar to the more well-known hajj pilgrimage in Islam.

On the eighth day, Shemini Atzeret, both a connected celebration finishing off Sukkot and a festival in its own right, brings the seven-day season to a close.

The final passage of Deuteronomy concludes the annual Torah reading. The start of the new annual reading cycle, which begins with Genesis, is also commemorated. Simchat Torah is a Jewish celebration that commemorates the start of a new year of Bible reading.

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Simchat Torah was a later innovation, first described in the fifth century or thereabouts but not institutionalized or associated with this name until the medieval period.

Religious calendars and holidays can compel people to confront particular concepts throughout the year. For example, they can help individuals deal with more challenging life dynamics like repentance and forgiveness, as well as provide opportunities to reflect on the events of the previous year and find the courage to live differently in the coming year if necessary.

In this way, organizing the new year's celebration around remembrances of a wide range of human experiences, both sadness and joy, demands a thorough understanding of the complexities of human connections and experiences.

The High Holy Days, in particular, give a way to recall that time is healing and restorative, as evidenced by Rosh Hashanah's renewal and Yom Kippur's solemn introspection, as well as the joyous festivals of Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

As a result, the High Holy Days and the Tishrei holiday season help to meaningfully commemorate the year and to emphasize our moral duty to one another.

Why do we decorate the sukkah?

Decorating your sukkah is a Hiddur Mitzvah, a celebration of Sukkot, and it will enhance the celebrations to come during the week. Decorating your sukkah is an important aspect of the Sukkot celebration.

What is the first day of Sukkot called?

The first day of Sukkot (Succot, Succoth, Sukkoth), which marks the beginning of the Sukkot period, is observed by several Jewish communities in the United States. The Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths, lasts around seven days. It is observed for a week beginning on the 15th day of Tishri (or Tishrei), the first month of the Jewish calendar year.

What season is Sukkot?

Sukkot is a Jewish celebration that begins on the 15th of Tishrei, five days following Yom Kippur, and lasts for a week.

It's a movable feast, like Easter, that might take place in September or October.

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It began on the evening of September 23 and ended on the evening of September 30 this year.

Sukkot include reading from the Torah every day and gatherings of song and dance during the Chol HalMoed period, which spans the festival's middle days.