Joyous Sukkot – ‘Feast of Booths’

Today in the evening is the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of ‘Tisheri’ {תשרי} and that means that another Jewish holiday is here! This time we are talking about the ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ or the ‘Feast of Booths’ which is called in the original Hebrew ‘Sukkot.’{סוכות}

The origins of this holiday – the same as the other holidays – can be found in the Book of Leviticus in chapter 23:

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, on the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:33-34)

The meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Sukkot’ is ‘booths’ and refers to the temporary ‘houses’ the people of Israel resided in after the exodus from Egypt, as described in Leviticus 23:

“You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:41-44)

The holiday of ‘Sukkot’ has another Hebrew name which is ‘Chag Ha-Asif’ {חג האסיף}  that means the ‘Harvest Festival.’ This refers to the time of the year when the mature crops are gathered from the field (‘gathered’ is ‘Asif’ in Hebrew) before the beginning of the rainy season – which is expected to start in the next month or so in Israel.

This holiday is celebrated for SEVEN days, however only the FIRST day (today and tomorrow) is similar to Shabbat, meaning a day of rest:

“On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.” (Leviticus 23:35)

In Israel, during the other days of ‘Sukkot’ one can find an abundance of different activities (most people have those days off and it is an official holiday in schools and universities) which includes all kind of wonderful festivals all across the Land of Israel and especially Jerusalem – where huge ‘Sukkot’ (booths) are scattered everywhere!

‘Chag Sameach’ {חג שמח} (‘Happy Holiday’) Everyone!