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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...


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 Staff
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Discussion (29)
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.
Hardly a Beinoni
Boca Raton, Florida
September 27, 2016
Can this be child friendly?
October 26, 2015
To Anonymous
Sukkot is celebrated in the fall. Check out for dates Staff
October 21, 2015
When is it celebrated?
what are the dates?
September 28, 2015
Very informative and enlightening
May 28, 2015
The festival of Sukkot is mentioned a number of times in the Torah. See Exodus 22, Exodus 34, Leviticus 23, Numbers 29, Deuteronomy 16.
Shaul Wolf
May 26, 2015
Where in the Chumash is the mitzvah of sukot
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.
Hickory Valley, Tn
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.
October 8, 2012
Thanks for the explanation of Sukkot. Was never sure of its meaning
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