The Zohar writes: when the People of Israel leave their homes and enter the sukkah for the sake of G‑d's Name, they merit to welcome the Divine presence there, and all the seven shepherds descend from Gan Eden and come to the sukkah as their guests.

The seven exalted guests [ushpizin] are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. (Some texts place Moses and Aaron before Joseph.) These seven guests dwell with Israel in their sukkot for all seven days of the Festival, and on each day, another one of them leads the other six into the sukkah.

  • On the first day, our father Abraham leads, accompanied by Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.
  • On the second day, Isaac our father leads, accompanied by Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.
  • On the third day, Jacob our father leads, accompanied by Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.
  • On the fourth day, Moses our master leads, accompanied by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, Joseph, and David.
  • On the fifth day, Aaron the priest leads, accompanied by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joseph, and David.
  • On the sixth day, Joseph the righteous leads, accompanied by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, and David.
  • On the seventh day, Hoshana Rabbah, King David leads, accompanied by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, and Joseph.

It is therefore customary, upon entering the sukkah, to invite the ushpizin to enter by reciting the traditional Aramaic formula contained in the prayer book.

Among the Sephardim, it is customary to prepare an ornate chair in the sukkah, which is covered with a fine cloth and upon which holy books are placed. The host then declares: "This is the chair of the ushpizin." A candle is also lit in honor of the ushpizin.