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START of 7 day Sukkot * - Jews, Hebrews, Israelites, Messianic Jews, Samaritans, Semitic Neopagans.

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Time: 
Thu, 05/10/2017 - 00:15 - 23:45
Location: 
EVERYWHERE.

 5th October - 11th October 

Sukkot * - Jews, Hebrews, Israelites, Messianic Jews, Samaritans, Semitic Neopagans.

Sukkot or Succot (Hebrew: סוכות‎‎ or סֻכּוֹת, sukkōt), in traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation Sukkos or Succos, literally Feast of Booths, is commonly translated to English as Feast of Tabernacles, sometimes also as Feast of the Ingathering. It is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October). During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple it was one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Hebrew: שלוש רגלים‎‎, shalosh regalim) on which the Israelites were commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple.

Sukkot has a double significance. The one mentioned in the Book of Exodus is agricultural in nature – "Feast of Ingathering at the year's end" (Exodus 34:22) – 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 the Exodus and the dependence of the People of Israel on the will of God (Leviticus 23:42-43).

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

The Hebrew word sukkōt is the plural of sukkah, "booth" or "tabernacle", 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, a fact connecting to the agricultural significance of the holiday stressed by the Book of Exodus. As stated in Leviticus, it is also intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.

On each day of the holiday it is mandatory to perform a waving ceremony with the Four Species.

Origins [edit]

In the Book of Leviticus, God told Moses to command the people:

"On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook" (Lev. 23:40), and "You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Lev. 23:42-43).

The origins of Sukkot are both historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag HaAsif (חג האסיף, the "Festival of Ingathering"), as it celebrates the gathering of the harvest. [1] [2]

Laws and customs [edit]

Sukkot is an eight-day holiday, with the first day celebrated as a full festival with special prayer services and holiday meals. The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah ("Great Hoshana", referring to the tradition that worshipers in the synagogue walk around the perimeter of the sanctuary during morning services) and has a special observance of its own. Outside Israel, the first and last two days are celebrated as full festivals. The intermediate days are known as Chol HaMoed ("festival weekdays"). According to Halakha, some types of work are forbidden during Chol HaMoed. [3] In Israel many businesses are closed during this time. [4]

Throughout the week of Sukkot, meals are eaten in the sukkah and the males sleep there, although the requirement is waived in case of rain. Every day, a blessing is recited over the Lulav and the Etrog.

Observance of Sukkot is detailed in the Book of Nehemiah 8:13-18, Zechariah 14:16-19 and Leviticus 23:34-44 in the Bible, the Mishnah (Sukkah 1:1–5:8); the Tosefta (Sukkah 1:1–4:28); and the Jerusalem Talmud (Sukkah 1a–) and Babylonian Talmud (Sukkah 2a–56b).

Building a sukkah [edit]

The sukkah walls can be constructed of any material (wood, canvas, aluminum siding, sheets). The walls can be free-standing or include the sides of a building or porch. The roof must be of organic material, known as s'chach, such as leafy tree overgrowth, schach mats or palm fronds. It is customary to decorate the interior of the sukkah with hanging decorations of the four species. [5]

Special prayers [edit]

Prayers during Sukkot include the reading of the Torah every day, reciting the Mussaf (additional) service after morning prayers, reciting Hallel, and adding special additions to the Amidah and Grace after Meals. In addition, the service includes rituals involving the Four Species. The lulav and etrog are not brought to the synagogue on Shabbat.

Hoshanot [edit]

On each day of the festival, worshippers walk around the synagogue carrying their Four species while reciting Psalm 118:25 and 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 worshipers parading around the altar reciting prayers.

Ushpizin [edit]

A custom originating with Lurianic Kabbalah is to recite the ushpizin prayer to "invite" one of seven "exalted guests" into the sukkah. [6] These ushpizin (Aramaic אושפיזין 'guests'), represent the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. According to tradition, each night a different guest enters the sukkah followed by the other six. Each of the ushpizin has a unique lesson which teaches the parallels of the spiritual focus of the day on which they visit.

Chol HaMoed [edit]

Main article: Chol HaMoed

The second through seventh days of Sukkot (third through seventh days outside Israel) are called Chol HaMoed (חול המועד - lit. "festival weekdays"). These days are considered by halakha 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.

Religious Jews typically 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 Shabbat which falls during the week of Sukkot (or in the event when the first day of Sukkot is on Shabbat), the Book of Ecclesiastes is read during morning synagogue services in 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 Torah is the only worthwhile pursuit. (Cf. Ecclesiastes 12:13,14.)

Hakhel [edit]

Main article: Hakhel

In the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, all Israelite, and later Jewish men, women, and children on pilgrimage to Jerusalem 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 Torah. This ceremony, which was mandated in Deuteronomy 31:10-13, was held every seven years, in the year following the Shmita (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. [7]

Simchat Beit HaShoevah [edit]

Main article: Simchat Beit HaShoeivah

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 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 [edit]

Main article: Hoshana Rabbah

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 Psalm 118:25 with additional prayers. In addition, a bundle of five willow branches is beaten on the ground.

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah [edit]

Main articles: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

The holiday immediately following Sukkot is known as Shemini Atzeret (lit. "Eighth  [Day] of Assembly"). Shemini Atzeret is usually viewed as a separate holiday. [8] In the Diaspora 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 of Israel, many eat in the sukkah without making the blessing. The sukkah is not used on Simchat Torah. [9]

In Christianity [edit]

Further information: Christian observances of Jewish holidays

Sukkot is celebrated by a number of Christian denominations that observe holidays from the Old Testament. These groups base this on the fact that Jesus celebrated Sukkot (see the Gospel of John 7). The holiday is celebrated according to its Hebrew calendar dates. The first mention of observing the holiday by Christian groups dates to the 17th century, among the sect of the Subbotniks in Russia. [citation needed] In the Orthodox Church, the holiday is said to correspond to the new covenant Feast of the Transfiguration.

Academic views [edit]

De Moor has suggested that there are links between Sukkot and the Ugaritic 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. [10] [11]

Some [who?] have pointed out that the original Thanksgiving holiday had many similarities with Sukkot in the Bible.

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Sukkot is the third of the three "Pilgrim Festivals" in the Jewish tradition (the other two are Passover and Shavuot). While Passover is celebrated in memory of the exodus from Egypt, and Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, Sukkot is a celebration in memory of the huts in which Moses and the Israelites lived in the desert for 40 years. 

According to the bible, Moses and the Israelites traveled in the desert for forty years before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land. During that time, they slept in shelters made of branches, which were relatively easy to construct and carry around with them. That is why the holiday of "Sukkot" ("Tabernacles") is celebrated until today. 

Sukkot is also called "Chag Ha'Asif" ("The Holiday of the Harvest"), because it takes place at the time of year in which the crops were collected from the fields, and in ancient times some of them were brought to the temple. 

Sukkot Traditions 

The main tradition related to this holiday is building a Sukkah, a temporary home in which it is customary to live for seven days. In most places, Jews don't actually sleep in these huts, but eat their meals there every day. This also depends, of course, on the kind of climate you live in? 

A second important tradition in Sukkot is hospitality. While traveling in the desert before entering the Promised Land, the Israelites were considered the guests of God, who looked after them and provided them with food and water. Therefore, Sukkot is a holiday of sharing meals and inviting in guests. This is also the basis for the custom of hosting the Ushpizin. 

In each of the seven days of Sukkot apart from Saturday, it is commanded to say a blessing for The Four Species. Three of these species are held together in one hand, and the fourth (The "Etrog") in the other. Blessings for these species are said both in the Sukkah and in the synagogue. 

On the 8th day there is no obligation to sit in the Sukkah, but it is still a holiday in which no work should be done. The uniqueness of this specific day is praying for rain. In Israel this is the time of year when winter begins, and since there is not much rain there, Jews started praying for rain as soon as Sukkot ended. 

The 9th day of Sukkot is called "Simchat Torah" (meaning "The Joy of the Torah"). On this day the reading of the Torah is completed and begun again. During the celebration it is customary to circle the sanctuary seven times with the Torah, while singing and dancing. 

In Israel the 8th and 9th day are celebrated together, whereas in other countries they are celebrated separately. The reason for this separation is that in the days of the Talmud, Jews who lived outside Israel couldn't know for certain when the first day of the month ("Rosh Chodesh") was declared, and they did not want to accidentally work on a holiday when working is forbidden. As a precaution they did not work on either of the two days... 

When is Sukkot celebrated? 

The celebration of Sukkot begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month Tishrei - 5 days after Yom Kippur - and lasts nine days (in Israel 8 days). This normally takes place in September, which is also the beginning of winter in Israel.