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What Is Sukkot?

What Is Sukkot?

The Sukkah, the Four Kinds, the "Water-Drawing Celebrations," the meaning of unity, the dynamics of joy...

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For forty years, as our ancestors traversed the Sinai Desert, following the Exodus from Egypt, 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 Sukkot festival (on the Jewish calendar Tishrei 15-21). For seven days and nights, we eat all our meals in the sukkah and otherwise regard it as our home.

Another Sukkot observance is the taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle twigs) and two aravot (willow twigs). On each day of the festival (excepting Shabbat), 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 backward. Our sages in the midrash tell us that the Four Kinds represent the various types and personalities that comprise the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity we emphasize on Sukkot.

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.

The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshaana Rabbah ("Great Salvation") and closes the period of Divine judgment begun on Rosh Hashanah. A special observance is the aravah--the taking of a bundle of willow branches.

See also How is Sukkot Observed? An Overview of Sukkot's Traditions and Customs and our Complete Sukkot Guide

By Chabad.org Staff
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Hardly a Beinoni Boca Raton, Florida October 21, 2016

A SuccosThought I believe, that it was Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (1765-1824), of Poland, one of the foremost Chassidic Rebbes of that era, who noted, that the Mitzvah of Sukkah is unlike any of the other 612 Mitzvoth. Namely; when one enters the Sukkah, recites the appropriate blessing(s), he/she is completely enveloped by the observance of this Mitzvah, not only spiritually, but also, physically; because you enter the Sukkah, in body, soul, clothes, and, even the boots on your feet. Chag Sameach. Reply

Anonymous September 27, 2016

Can this be child friendly? Reply

Chabad.org Staff via chabadone.org October 26, 2015

To Anonymous Sukkot is celebrated in the fall. Check out Chabad.org/holidays for dates Reply

Anonymous October 21, 2015

When is it celebrated? what are the dates? Reply

LeeJoyStern September 28, 2015

Very informative and enlightening
Reply

Shaul Wolf Chabad.org May 28, 2015

Re: The festival of Sukkot is mentioned a number of times in the Torah. See Exodus 22, Exodus 34, Leviticus 23, Numbers 29, Deuteronomy 16. Reply

Samyy May 26, 2015

Where in the Chumash is the mitzvah of sukot Reply

Sharmon Hickory Valley, Tn May 10, 2014

Jewish holidays Now I have a better understanding of the 6 most important holidays in the Jewish faith. Thanks for the educational experience. Connecting the event with names. Thanks again. Reply

Akki Zurich September 18, 2013

My neighbors built sukkah yesterday and are celebrating today so thought of searching about it. Your post helped me to understand the festival. Reply

Paula, Brooklyn October 8, 2012

Thanks for the explanation of Sukkot. Was never sure of its meaning Reply

Nicole Pittsburgh, PA October 6, 2012

New Neighbors My neighbors built a sukkah and I admit at first I had no idea what it was. I decided to go introduce myself and they were so welcoming and friendly! They explained the holiday and I just love their sukkah! It's almost a shame that it's only temporary. Sukkot has helped me to meet my neighbors and learn more about Judaism, and for this I am very thankful! Reply

Chris Hamilton, Ontario October 5, 2012

Jewish Holidays I have recently become business partners with a group of observant Jews, and have found this site very informative, thanks ! Reply

Sensei Elliott Hartford , Ct October 3, 2012

Enlightened I am a martial arts instructor and one of my students couldn't attend class in observance of this holiday. In an attempt to understand my students faith a little more I looked up the Sukkot holiday and found your website. After reading and going through your page I learned something new from my student. Reply

Anonymous new york, US October 1, 2012

sukkot Thanks for the great article , The word "Sukkot" means "booths," and refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday. The name of the holiday is frequently translated as The Feast of Tabernacles. Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov October 11, 2011

To Anonymous If the tent's roof can be removed and replaced with a suitable covering, it may be used for a Sukkah, as long as the tent is fastened to the ground and will not be blown away by a regular wind.

You would have to inquire with the campground's officials whether they allow 'tents' to be erected. Reply

mary Ireland, Ireland October 11, 2011

beautiful idea The whole idea is saturated with meaning, tradition, aestheticism and beauty. However, I must say that so very much is demanded, down to selecting a perfect fruit and I would be terrified that i wouldn't be doing it right. Really, surely its the heart being in the right place that's more important. Reply

Anonymous Prescott, AR/US October 11, 2011

Sukkot Could a person set up a regular tent, and then put some symbolic branches on it? And...what about using a public campground if a person was an apartment dweller? Would most state campgrounds be accepting of such? Reply

Tzvi Freeman October 10, 2008

Not within traveling distance The best solution is to build your own sukkah. It's not so hard. In fact, there are portable sukkahs available that can be put up in a matter of minutes. You can even order one online. Reply

Anonymous October 10, 2008

Sukkot: Women Batsheva,
While it is great to have the opportunity to do so, women are not *required* to eat or sleep in the sukka. On the intermediate days, (*after* the second day and *before* the seventh day) driving is possible for the sake of enjoyment of the holiday, as long as it is *not* on Shabbat, of course. Perhaps you would like to go on an intermediate day to make use of the lulav and etrog. Reply

Bat-Sheva Portland, OR October 5, 2008

sukkot What do I do if I am not in walking distance of a sukkot?

As well, does the synagogue provide the food for the 7 nights? Reply

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