Search
  • alan8079

LET’S TALK ABOUT SUKKOT

The Israelites lived in desert shelters after fleeing Egypt. While moving from place to place, each Israelite family would build a sukkah (or hut), a temporary structure constructed of at least 3 walls and covered with a roof of tree branches. Thus, the holiday of SUKKOT is a holiday symbolizing travel (moving and heading in the right direction, especially spiritually).


Sukkot also has an agricultural element. It is a festival of thanksgiving for the abundance of the harvest. Just as the farmer gathers his crops, we gather four kinds of growing things (the four species) and use them to praise God for the bounty He has provided us.


The basic commandment of the four species consists of holding them in your hand and then shaking them in a prescribed direction and manner while you recite the following: Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us through His commandments commanding us concerning the waving of the palm branch.


The four species consist of a long palm branch that has a holder made of palm leaves. In the holder on your left side, you place two willows and on the right side you place three myrtles. The citron (etrog) is not attached with the other three species.


And God said - On the first day you shall take the product of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. [Lev. 23:40]


The four species emphasize the agricultural nature of Sukkot. Just as the farmer harvests his crops, so we gather four kinds of growing things and use them to praise God for the bounty He has provided us.


The Ritual – (procedure for reciting the blessing):


Hold the lulav so that its spine is toward you


Pick up the etrog in your left hand with its tip (pitom) pointing down. Recite the blessings:


Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, Asher Kid’shanu b’Mitzvotav v’Tzivanu Layshayv BaSukkah.


Blessed is the Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, who sanctifies us through His commandments and commands us to dwell in the sukkah.


Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, Asher Kid’shanu b’Mitzvotav v’Tzivanu Al Netilat Lulav.


Blessed is the Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, who sanctifies us through His commandments and commands us concerning lifting up the lulav.


Turn the etrog right side up and shake the lulav in six directions: East, West, North, South, up and down to indicate God is everywhere.


To summarize, the sukkah unites the past, present and future. It points to the continuity of the Jewish people, and it helps us remember that even in today’s world where technology can be very seductive, we need to keep in touch with nature so as to keep our world in perspective.



QUIZ (answers can be found after the questions)


  1. What does Sukkot mean?


  1. What other names does this holiday have and what do they mean?


  1. What does Sukkot commemorate?


  1. How did the holiday of Sukkot influence American culture?


  1. What are the permitted dimensions for the smallest sukkah?


  1. What is the height of the tallest kosher sukkah?


  1. What is the thatchwork on the roof of the sukkah called?


  1. What is Ushpizin?


  1. What is a lulav?


  1. What is an etrog?


  1. What do the lulav and etrog represent?


  1. How and why do we shake the lulav and etrog?


  1. Why do we walk around the synagogue with the lulav and etrog?


  1. On Simchat Torah when we march around the synagogue with the Torah scrolls and the flags, what do we call the parade around the synagogue?


  1. What are the special honors that we give on the morning of Simchat Torah?



ANSWERS TO QUIZ


  1. Booths or huts.


  1. Chag Ha-asif – the holiday of the ingathering (harvest). Sukkot marked the time of the final harvest before the rainy season began in Israel Zman Simchataynu – the time of our rejoicing over an abundant harvest.


  1. During our 40 years of wandering in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt, we lived in huts so we could just pack up easily and go on to the next oasis.


  1. The Pilgrims were very devoted to the Bible and applied to themselves the Torah command to rejoice with our harvest.


  1. No shorter than 9 tefachim (widths of a fist).


  1. No taller than a structure which obscures the thatchwork roof – about 30 feet tall


  1. Se-chach.


  1. It is an old custom to invite a new biblical hero into the sukkah on each night of Sukkot. These guests are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. The “ushpizin” name for this ceremony is derived from the word “hospice” or “hospitality.”


  1. The branch of a palm tree to which are attached 2 willow branches on the left and 3 myrtle branches on the right.


  1. A citrus fruit which looks just like a lemon only somewhat larger. It is called a citron in English.


  1. There are numerous interpretations as to their meaning. One interpretation is that they represent vegetation which is indigenous to Israel. Another is that they represent the 4 most misused organs of the body: the etrog represents the heart and the many wrong feelings we experience or generate; the palm branch represents the spine – strength – we always somehow find the courage to do something wrong and usually lack the courage to do what is right; the willow leaves represent the lips and remind us about how often we say things that we shouldn’t; the myrtle leaves represent the eye and remind us of how often we see the bad in others and only the good in ourselves.


  1. In the 4 directions of the compass, then up and down to remind us that God is everywhere.


  1. To symbolize that God is everywhere.


  1. Hakafot which means encircling.


  1. We give out 3 sets of honors: (a) everyone present is given an aliyah; (b) the chatan and kallah (groom and bride) of the Torah who are given the privilege of receiving the aliyah for the last paragraph of the Torah; (c) The chatan and kallah (groom and bride) of the Torah who are given the honor of receiving the aliyah for the opening paragraphs of the Torah (Braysheet). There is also Kol Ha-ne-arim (all the children), the person who is given the privilege of sponsoring all the pre Bar and Bat Mitzvah children for an aliyah at the Torah.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

As a founding member of Congregation Shalom Aleichem in Kissimmee, Harry Lowenstein's faith has always been the centerpiece of his life. For many years, he conducted services and provided the Torah, t

By Anthony Ford Partners in Healthcare Be honest—Have any of these things happened to you recently: A fall A vehicle accident A large medical event Missed meals Dehydration or not drinking enough wate

Seniors in elder communities living do not have much going on in their day. They look forward to meals and sometimes to activities. They receive very few visits. Therefore each visit is super importan