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Sukkot is a -commanded celebrated for seven days, beginning on the 15th day of the month of . It is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals on which were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Originally a celebrating the autumn , Sukkot’s modern observance is characterized by festive meals in a , a temporary wood-covered hut, celebrating from Egypt.

The names used in the are "Festival of Ingathering" (or "Harvest Festival", ḥag hāʾāsif) and "Festival of Booths" (Ḥag hasSukkōṯ). This corresponds to the double significance of Sukkot. The one mentioned in the Book of Exodus is agricultural in nature—"Festival of Ingathering at the year's end" ()—and marks the end of the harvest time and thus of the agricultural year in the Land of Israel. The more elaborate religious significance from the Book of Leviticus is that of commemorating and the dependence of the on the will of God ().

The holiday lasts seven days in the Land of Israel and eight in the . The first day (and second day in the diaspora) is a -like when is forbidden. This is followed by intermediate days called , during which certain work is permitted. The festival is closed with another Shabbat-like holiday called (one day in the Land of Israel, two days in the diaspora, where the second day is called ). Shemini Atzeret coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside the Land of Israel.

The Hebrew word is the plural of ('' or '') which is a walled structure covered with s'chach (plant material, such as overgrowth or palm leaves). A sukkah is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting, reinforcing agricultural significance of the holiday introduced in the Book of Exodus. As stated in Leviticus, it is also reminiscent of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelled during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in . Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.

On each day of the holiday it is a , or commandment, to perform a waving ceremony with the , as well as to sit in the sukkah during the holiday.

Sukkot shares similarities with older Canaanite new-year/harvest festivals, which included a seven-day celebration with sacrifices reminiscent of those in and "dwellings of branches," as well as processions with branches. The earliest references in the Bible ( & ) make no mention of Sukkot, instead referring to it as "the festival of ingathering (hag ha'asif) at the end of the year, when you gather in the results of your work from the field," suggesting an agricultural origin. (The Hebrew term asif is also mentioned in the as a two-month period in the autumn.)

The booths aspect of the festival may come from the shelters that were built in the fields by those involved in the harvesting process. Alternatively, it may come from the booths which pilgrims would stay in when they came in for the festivities at the cultic sanctuaries.

(2024). 9781946527288, Brown Judaic Studies. .
Finally, talks about the taking of various branches (and a fruit), this too is characteristic of ancient agricultural festivals, which frequently included processions with branches.

Later, the festival was historicized by symbolic connection with the desert sojourn of (). The narratives of the exodus trek do not describe the Israelites building booths, but they indicate that most of the trek was spent encamped at oases rather than traveling, and "sukkot" roofed with palm branches were a popular and convenient form of housing at such Sinai desert oases.Yoel Bin Nun, Zachor Veshamor p.168; , Teva Venof Bemoreshet Yisrael, p.68-70

Laws and customs
Sukkot is a seven-day festival. Inside the Land of Israel, the first day is celebrated as a full festival with special prayer services and holiday meals. Outside the Land of Israel, the first two days are celebrated as full festivals. The seventh day of Sukkot is called ("Great Hoshana", referring to the tradition that worshippers in the walk around the perimeter of the sanctuary during morning services) and has a special observance of its own. The intermediate days are known as Chol HaMoed ("festival weekdays"). According to , some types of work are forbidden during Chol HaMoed.
(1994). 9780899064475, Mesorah Publications. .
In Israel many businesses are closed during this time.

Throughout the week of Sukkot, meals are eaten in the sukkah. If a (circumcision ceremony) or Bar Mitzvah rises during Sukkot, the (obligatory festive meal) is served in the sukkah. Similarly, the father of a newborn boy greets guests to his Friday-night in the sukkah. Males sleep in the sukkah, provided the weather is tolerable. If it rains, the requirement of eating and sleeping in the sukkah is waived, except for eating there on the first night where every effort needs to be made to at least say (the sanctification prayer on wine) and eat a piece of bread before going inside the house to finish the meal if the rain does not stop. Every day, a blessing is recited over the and the . Keeping of Sukkot is detailed in the (, and ); the (Sukkah 1:1–5:8); the (Sukkah 1:1–4:28); and the (Sukkah 1a–) and Babylonian (Sukkah 2a–56b).

The sukkah walls can be constructed of any material that blocks wind (wood, canvas, aluminum siding, sheets). The walls can be free-standing or include the sides of a building or porch. There must be at least two and a partial wall. The roof must be of organic material, known as s'chach, such as leafy tree overgrowth, schach mats or palm fronds – plant material that is no longer connected with the earth. It is customary to decorate the interior of the sukkah with hanging decorations of the as well as with attractive artwork.

Prayers during Sukkot include the reading of the Torah every day, reciting the (additional) service after morning prayers, reciting , and adding special additions to the and . In addition, the service includes rituals involving the Four Species. The lulav and etrog are not used on the Sabbath.
(2024). 9789653010673, Koren Publishers.

On each day of the festival, worshippers walk around the synagogue carrying the Four Species while reciting special prayers known as Hoshanot. This takes place either after the morning's Torah reading or at the end of Mussaf. This ceremony commemorates the willow ceremony at the Temple in Jerusalem, in which willow branches were piled beside the altar with worshippers parading around the altar reciting prayers.

Ushpizin and ushpizata
A custom originating with Lurianic Kabbalah is to recite the ushpizin prayer to "invite" one of seven "exalted guests" into the sukkah. These ushpizin ( אושפיזין 'guests'), represent the "seven shepherds of Israel": , , , , , Joseph and , each of whom correlate with one of the seven lower (this is why Joseph, associated with , follows Moses and Aaron, associated with and Hod respectively, even though he precedes them in the narrative). According to tradition, each night a different guest enters the sukkah followed by the other six. Each of the ushpizin has a unique lesson to teach that parallels the spiritual focus of the day on which they visit, based on the associated with that character.

Some streams of Reconstructionist Judaism also recognize a set of seven female shepherds of Israel, called variously (using modern Hebrew feminine pluralization), or (in reconstructed Aramaic). Several lists of seven have been proposed. The Ushpizata are sometimes coidentified with the seven prophetesses of Judaism: , , , Hannah, , , and . Some lists seek to relate each female leader to one of the , to parallel their male counterparts of the evening. One such list (in the order they would be invoked, each evening) is: Ruth, , , , , Tamar, and .

Chol HaMoed intermediate days
The second through seventh days of Sukkot (third through seventh days outside the Land of Israel) are called (חול המועד – "festival weekdays"). These days are considered by to be more than regular weekdays but less than festival days. In practice, this means that all activities that are needed for the holiday—such as buying and preparing food, cleaning the house in honor of the holiday, or traveling to visit other people's sukkot or on family outings—are permitted by Jewish law. Activities that will interfere with relaxation and enjoyment of the holiday—such as laundering, mending clothes, engaging in labor-intensive activities—are not permitted. , , 530

Religious Jews often treat Chol HaMoed as a vacation period, eating nicer than usual meals in their sukkah, entertaining guests, visiting other families in their sukkot, and taking family outings. Many synagogues and Jewish centers also offer events and meals in their sukkot during this time to foster community and goodwill.

On the which falls during the week of Sukkot (or in the event when the first day of Sukkot is on Shabbat), the is read during morning services in the Land of Israel. (Diaspora communities read it the second Shabbat {eighth day} when the first day of sukkot is on Shabbat.) This Book's emphasis on the ephemeralness of life ("Vanity of vanities, all is vanity...") echoes the theme of the sukkah, while its emphasis on death reflects the time of year in which Sukkot occurs (the "autumn" of life). The penultimate verse reinforces the message that adherence to God and His is the only worthwhile pursuit. (Cf. .)

Hakhel assembly
In the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, all Israelite, and later Jewish men, women, and children on pilgrimage to for the festival would gather in the Temple courtyard on the first day of Chol HaMoed Sukkot to hear the Jewish king read selections from the . This ceremony, which was mandated in 31:10–13, was held every seven years, in the year following the (Sabbatical) year. This ceremony was discontinued after the destruction of the Temple, but it has been revived in Israel since 1952 on a smaller scale.

Simchat Beit HaShoevah water-drawing celebration
During the intermediate days of Sukkot, gatherings of music and dance, known as Simchat Beit HaShoeivah (Celebration of the Place of Water-Drawing), take place. This commemorates the celebration that accompanied the drawing of the water for the water-libation on the Altar, an offering unique to Sukkot, when water was carried up the Jerusalem pilgrim road from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Hoshana Rabbah (Great Supplication)
The seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah (Great Supplication). This day is marked by a special synagogue service in which seven circuits are made by worshippers holding their Four Species, reciting additional prayers. In addition, a bundle of five willow branches is beaten on the ground.

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
The holiday immediately following Sukkot is known as Shemini Atzeret ( "Eighth Day of Assembly"). Shemini Atzeret is usually viewed as a separate holiday.See Rosh Hashanah 4b for rare cases where it is viewed as part of the Sukkot holiday. In the a second additional holiday, Simchat Torah ("Joy of the Torah"), is celebrated. In the Land of Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated on Shemini Atzeret. On Shemini Atzeret people leave their sukkah and eat their meals inside the house. Outside the Land of Israel, many eat in the sukkah without making the blessing. The sukkah is not used on Simchat Torah.

Sukkot in the generations of Israel

Jeroboam's feast
According to , King , first king of the rebellious northern kingdom, instituted a feast on the fifteenth day of the in imitation of the feast of Sukkot in Judah, and pilgrims went to instead of Jerusalem to make thanksgiving offerings. Jeroboam feared that continued pilgrimages from the northern kingdom to Jerusalem could lead to pressure for reunion with Judah:



In Christianity
Sukkot is celebrated by a number of Christian denominations that observe holidays from the . These groups base this on the belief that celebrated Sukkot (see the Gospel of John 7). The holiday is celebrated according to its dates. The first mention of observing the holiday by Christian groups dates to the 17th century, among the sect of the in .

Academic views
De Moor has suggested that there are links between Sukkot and the New Year festival, in particular the Ugaritic custom of erecting two rows of huts built of branches on the temple roof as temporary dwelling houses for their gods.
(2024). 9783447052498, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.

Some have pointed out that the original holiday had many similarities with Sukkot in the Bible.

See also
  • Feast of Wine
  • List of harvest festivals
  • – a 2010 public art and architecture competition planned for New York City's Union Square Park
  • , 2004 film


Further reading

External links



By branch of Judaism


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