Sukkot, the festival of humility
Today, at sunset, Sukkot begins, a festivity that invites you to live in humility and share what you have, living for a week, in a Sukkah, a precarious hut, without doors and with a roof made of leaves and branches. that allows you to see the sky. CHAG SUCKOT SAMEACH.
A Guide to the Joyful Jewish Holiday of Sukkot .
Aish Latino- by Rav. Shraga Simmons
After the High Holidays comes Sukkot, a seven-day holiday (eight in the Diaspora) characterized by the sukkot we build in the open air and the “four species” we wave together during the holiday.
Sukkot is a holiday of great joy, in which we express our complete trust in God and celebrate our certainty that we have received "a good judgment" for the following year.
Throughout the week of Sukkot, we eat, sleep, and share in the sukkah, reminding ourselves that:
1. The Israelites lived in sukkot or 'booths' during their 40 years of wandering in the desert.
2. God is our true protection, just as he protected the Israelites in the desert with the Clouds of Glory (Exodus 13:21).
the 4 species
On Sukkot, we are commanded to wave the "Four Species," each denoted by its special beauty:
1. Etrog – the citron, a fragrant fruit with a thick white rind. It is often harvested from the tree while it is still green, and then matures to a bright yellow.
2. Lulav – the palm branch, which is defined as beautiful for having a straight shape and tightly attached leaves.
3. Hadas – the myrtle branch, which has a beautiful pattern of three leaves emerging from the same point along the entire length of the branch.
4. Arava – the willow branch, which should have elongated leaves with a fine point.
We put all the branches together – two willow branches on the left, one palm branch in the center, and three myrtle branches on the right. We hold them together with the Etrog and wave them in all directions, as a symbol of God's dominion over all Creation.
The four species are waved every day (except Shabbat) in the synagogue, during the recitation of the Hallel prayers of praise. The Hallel recitation is followed by Hoshanot, where everyone circles around a Torah scroll placed on the Bimah.
“Beautifying” the mitzvah by getting the best spices available is a special tradition. Ultimately, there are specific requirements for them to be valid for fulfilling the mitzvah. As the details are many and technical, it is not recommended that you look for yours in the woods (particularly the Etrog, which can easily be mistaken for a lemon). Buy a complete set from a trusted dealer; Your local Judaism book store should have a “Four Species Set” with a rabbinic seal certifying its validity.
Building your own Sukkah is an excellent activity to share with your family and friends. The Sukkah must be at least 70×70 cm. It can be built in a patio, on the balcony of an apartment, or even on the back of an elephant.
Your Sukkah needs to have at least two full walls and a small part of a third. The walls can be made of any material, as long as they are strong enough to withstand a normal wind. The walls should be at least 96 cm high, but not higher than 9.6 meters.
You don't have to build walls especially for the Sukkah; you can use the side of a building, or even a hedge of bushes. And if you can find an area that is already closed off by two or three walls, then your job will be much easier!
The roofing material (Sjaj) must be made of some material that grows out of the ground – for example branches and leaves (but not metal). If you are using boards, they cannot be more than 40 cm wide. In addition, the material must be currently disconnected from the soil (ie, it cannot be a tree that is still planted with its roots in the soil). This means that nothing can be hanging above the Sukkah – not a tree, not a gutter, not an air conditioner, etc.
The roof should be covered enough to provide more shade than sun during the day, but should be open enough so that the stars are visible through it at night. Roofing material can only be added after the required number of walls are in place.
Since the Sukkah is designated as your “home” for the next seven days, it is customary to decorate it. Many people hang fruit and flowers from the ceiling, and paste posters of Jerusalem and other Jewish themes on the walls.
It is also traditional to "receive" the seven shepherds of Israel (Abraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and David) as guests (ushpizin) in our Sukkah throughout the festivity.
More Sukkot Traditions
It is a special mitzvah to rejoice on Sukkot. For this reason, the days in between Sukkot are marked by celebrations called Simchat Beit HaShoeva, commemorating the water libations that were offered in the Temple during Sukkot.
The Sukkot holiday is directly related to “water”, since it is the day of universal judgment regarding the blessings of rain and irrigation for the coming year.
Sukkot is also a time of universal blessing for all peoples – symbolized by the 70 additional offerings that were offered in the Temple during the holiday, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world.
The Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon, is read on Shabbat during Sukkot. The theme of Ecclesiastes is the vain pursuit of worldly pleasures as opposed to the eternal spiritual quest. In reality, the fragile construction of the Sukkah reminds us that material possessions are transitory.
The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabba, which is characterized by the procession of the seven circuits around the Bima, with the Four Species in hand. The procession culminates with the beating of the willow branch on the ground. Hoshana Rabbah is known as the final sealing day of the judgment that began on Rosh Hashanah. On Hoshana Rabbah, some have the custom of reading the Book of Deuteronomy and staying up all night studying Torah.
Chag Sukkot Sameach!
Have a joyous Sukkot!