Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sukkot! Again!

I originally posted this in 2010 and since Sukkot starts tonight, I've gone lazy and decided to repost this instead of writing a new post.

Feast of Tabernacles is once again here.  7 days of eating in a booth or tabernacle built by the family.

From Chabad:
For forty years, as our ancestors traversed the Sinai Desert prior to their entry into the Holy Land, miraculous "clouds of glory" surrounded and hovered over them, shielding them from the dangers and discomforts of the desert. Ever since, we remember G‑d's kindness and reaffirm our trust in His providence by dwelling in a sukkah – a hut of temporary construction with a roof-covering of branches – for the duration of the autumn Sukkot festival. For seven days and nights, we eat all our meals in the sukkah – reciting a special blessing – and otherwise regard it as our home.

Another mitzvah that is unique to Sukkot is the taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), at least three hadassim (myrtle branches) and two aravot (willow branches). The Midrash tells us that the Four Kinds represent the various types and personalities that comprise the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity we emphasize on Sukkot.

On each day of the festival (except Shabbat), during the daytime hours, we take the Four Kinds, recite a blessing over them, bring them together in our hands and wave them in all six directions: right, left, forward, up, down and to the rear. (The Four Kinds are also an integral part of the holiday's daily morning service.)

Sukkot is also called The Time of Our Joy; indeed, a special joy pervades the festival. Nightly "Water-Drawing Celebrations," reminiscent of the evening-to-dawn festivities held in the Holy Temple in preparation for the drawing of water for use in the festival service, fill the synagogues and streets with song, music, and dance until the wee hours of the morning.

Sukkot runs from the fifteenth through the twenty-first of Tishrei. The first two days of this festival (in Israel only the first day) are a major holiday, when most forms of work are prohibited. On the preceding nights, women and girls light candles, reciting the appropriate blessings, and we enjoy nightly and daily festive meals, accompanied by the Kiddush.
Now imagine trying to explain the building of a sukkah to your landlord or local building authority. A hut with 4 wallsof cloth  and a roof with big holes in it. Could lead to some interesting civil discussions.

Or you have a father who cannot hammer 2 boards together, and yet insists on designing and building a sukkah (We've destroyed those pictures for the sake of family honor). Needless to say I learned some new words on those days.

I do love this holiday (one of 3 mandated in the bible).

So have a safe Sukkot! And remember that next year you can buy the pre-made Sukkah and avoid the embarrassment and laughter of your neighbors.

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