Hag HaSuccoth – The Feast of Tabernacles

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


I. Introduction. 1

II. The Pilgrimage festivals: 3

III. Names Given To This Feast 3

IV. The Succoth Mussaf Sacrifices: 5

V. The feast of our Joy! 6

VI. The Sabbatical Year Torah reading. 8

VII. The Services In The Synagogue. 11

VIII. The Succah. 13

Protection. 15

Halacha. 16

IX. The Four Species. 20

X. Succoth in the future. 22

XI. Yeshua celebrated Succoth: 24

XII. Rituals: 27

XIII. Chol HaMoed. 31

XIV. Customs. 32

XV. Yeshua begins His Ministry. 32

XVI. Bi-modal aspects. 33

XVII. Pagan Feasts. 38

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I. Introduction

 

In this study I would like to take a more thorough look at Hag HaSuccoth – The Feast of Tabernacles.

 

Hag HaSuccoth (The Feast of Tabernacles / Feast of Booths) is detailed in:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:34-44 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month HaShem’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to HaShem by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to HaShem by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. (“‘These are HaShem’s appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to HaShem by fire--the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for HaShem’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to HaShem.) “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to HaShem for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before HaShem your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to HaShem for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths. So your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am HaShem your God.’” So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of HaShem.

 

The “sacred assembly“ is a rehearsal meeting (mik-raw), according to Strong’s:

 

4744 miqra’, mik-raw’; from 7121; something called out, i.e. a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal:-assembly, calling, convocation, reading.

 

The “closing assembly”, Shemini Atzeret, is NOT a rehearsal meeting (mikra).

 

Succoth begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month[1] and lasts for seven days, yet there is also an ‘eighth’ day attached to this seven day festival.

 

The seventh month is pregnant with festivals. The first day of the seventh month is the festival called Rosh HaShana, the Festival of Trumpets (shofar). This festival lasts for forty-nine hours. On the third day of the seventh month we celebrate the fast of Gedalia. On the tenth day of the seventh month we celebrate Yom HaKippurim,[2] the Day of Atonement. Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month we celebrate the festival of Succoth for seven days; followed by an eighth day which is called Shemini Atzeret.

 

The four days between Yom HaKippurim (the Day of Atonement) and Succoth[3] (The Feast of Tabernacles) are days marked by a festive spirit. We do not fast, even if we would normally fast for a yartzeit (the anniversary of the passing) of a parent. During this time there is a frenzy of activity as we prepare to fulfill the mitzvot of Succoth. We are busy building and decorating our succah, our temporary dwelling, that we will be living in during the feast of Succoth. We are busy selecting our etrog[4] and our lulav.[5] These are the festive preparation days.

 

Here are the dates for Succoth for the next few years:

 

2013:   September 18th (at sundown[6]) till the 25th.

2014:   October 8th (at sundown) till the 15th.

2015:   Sept. 27th (at sundown) till October 4th.

2016:   October 16th (at sundown) till the 23rd.

2017:   October 4th (at sundown) till the 11th.

 

 

Etrog

Lulav

 

On the eve of Succoth we eat a little less in the afternoon so as to increase our appetite for the first meal of the feast.

 

After the last forty days of repenting and fasting, the upright of heart merit the feast of joy. This is alluded to in:

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 97:10-12 Let those who love HaShem hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in HaShem, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.

 

The Feast of Tabernacles is a seven day feast with an assembly on the eighth day. The first day is a Sabbath and the eighth day is a Sabbath. Outside of Israel, the Sages have set the second and the ninth days as Sabbaths as well. Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, can be diagramed as:

 

In Eretz[7] Israel

 

Tishrei 15

Sabbath

Tishrei 16

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 17

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 18

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 19

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 20

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 21

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 22

Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah This is a Sabbath

 

Outside Eretz Israel

 

Tishrei 15

Sabbath

Tishrei 16

Sabbath and Chol HaMoed

Tishrei 17

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 18

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 19

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 20

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 21

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 22

Shemini Atzeret. This a Sabbath

Tishrei 23

Shemini Atzeret (second day), Sabbath, and Simchat Torah.

 

Why does a seven day feast have an “eighth day” rehearsal meeting?[8] 

 

The first seven days of the feast are called Succoth (booth plural), because we dwell in a succah (booth singular) during this time. The eighth day is called Atzeret, assembly, or Shemini Atzeret, the eighth assembly. The first and the eighth days are Sabbaths in which work is forbidden.[9] The five days in between these two sabbaths are called chol hamoed, the intermediate feast days, which are between the sabbath at the beginning and the end of the festival. During these intermediate days certain kinds of work are permitted.

 

II. The Pilgrimage festivals:

 

There are three festivals, during the year, where all those who are able go up to Jerusalem, to the Temple, to celebrate festivals. These three festivals are called the pilgimage festivals. The Torah tells us about these festivals in:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 23:14-17 Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed. “Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. “Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign HaShem.

 

Why just three times? Why not at every festival? Anyone who has ever traveled knows that traveling is a stressful time. HaShem had mercy on us and only commanded us to come during the seven day festivals and their closing assemblies (atzeret).

 

III. Names Given To This Feast

 

There are multiple names given to the festival of Succoth. Each name conveys an important aspect of this festival. Lets look briefly at these names.

 

Hag HaSuccoth - Feast of The Tabernacles

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the HaShem’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.

 

We will look in-depth at this name throughout this study. Suffice it to say that this name points us to one of the two central mitzvot[10] of this festival – living in a temporary dwelling, a booth, called in Hebrew, a succah.

 

Hag - The Feast

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:39-41 “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the HaShem for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the HaShem your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the HaShem for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month.

 

In this seminal chapter of the Torah where all of the festivals are detailed, only two of the of the six are called ‘festivals’ (moed). These are Passover and Succoth – the two seven day festivals. We will look in greater detail at the connections between these two festivals later in this study.

 

Hag HaAsif - Feast of The Ingathering

 

Succoth is commonly called the Festival of the Gathering, because of this verses:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:13 Observe the Festival of Succoth for seven days when you have gathered in your grain and your wine.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 34:22-23 “Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign HaShem, the God of Israel.

 

Yet it could also be known as the festival of dying. You see, in Hebrew, the word for ‘gather,’ asaf - אסף, also means dying, as we see in these examples:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 35:29 Isaac…died, and was gathered to his people…

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 49:33 When Jacob finished commanding his sons…(he) was gathered unto his people.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:50 Die on the mountain where you go up, and be gathered to your people; as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor, and was gathered to his people.

 

As many of you already know, whenever a Hebrew word conveys two seemingly different ideas, then we know that these two different ideas are really the same idea. Thus ‘Festival of the Gathering‘ also means ‘Festival of Death’. But why would the most joyful Biblical holyday carry even a hint of death?

 

For a clue, we need to examine an incident late in the life of Moses.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 31:1-3 HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Avenge the Children of Israel from the Midianites; afterwards shall you be gathered to your people. And Moses spoke to the people saying, ‘Arm yourselves for war and go against the Midianites…

 

A lesser man hearing that this would be his final mission might have dawdled in launching the war. He might have described the delay as necessary for adequate military preparation. But ancient Jewish wisdom observes that though Moses clearly knew that after this mission he would die, he nonetheless wasted no time in carrying it out.

 

This final opportunity for Moses to obey HaShem carried a special quality which it wouldn’t have possessed if there would be countless future such opportunities.

 

Z’man simchateinu - The time of our joy

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:14 Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to HaShem your God at the place HaShem will choose. For HaShem your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

 

The most important, and overiding, mitzva of Succoth is Joy. In general, if you cannot celebrate with joy, then there is no point to this festival or its mitzvot.

 

The seventh day = Hoshana Rabbah

( The Great Hoshana)

 

Yochanan (John) 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Yeshua had not yet been glorified.

 

This name was given to a ceremony where the celebrants carry their lulav and etrog while circling the altar,[11] in the Temple, while saying a special prayer which includes the words: ‘Save Now!’, which in Hebrew is ‘Hoshana!’.

 

IV. The Succoth Mussaf Sacrifices:

 

The special sacrifices which are offered on Succoth in addition (mussaf means “additional”) to the regular daily offerings, are detailed in:

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:12-40 “‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Celebrate a festival to HaShem for seven days. Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to HaShem, a burnt offering of thirteen young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. With each of the thirteen bulls prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with each of the two rams, two-tenths; And with each of the fourteen lambs, one-tenth. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘On the second day prepare twelve young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings. “‘On the third day prepare eleven bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘On the fourth day prepare ten bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘On the fifth day prepare nine bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘On the sixth day prepare eight bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘On the seventh day prepare seven bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘On the eighth day hold an assembly and do no regular work. Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to HaShem, a burnt offering of one bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bull, the ram and the lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘In addition to what you vow and your freewill offerings, prepare these for HaShem at your appointed feasts: your burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings and fellowship offerings.’” Moses told the Israelites all that HaShem commanded him.

 

These offerings are primarily for the Gentile nations, that is why tehre are seventy bulls offered during Succoth. Seventy corresponds to the seventy nations of the world, as detailed in the Torah.

 

V. The feast of our Joy!

 

Succoth is called the feast of our joy. It is to be celebrated joyfully! All of the other requirements of the feast are suspended if they can not be done joyfully. For example: If it is raining, you do not have to sleep in your succah. Notice how often the scriptures associate joy with this feast:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:13-17 Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to HaShem your God at the place HaShem will choose. For HaShem your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before HaShem your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before HaShem empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way HaShem your God has blessed you.

 

To begin to understand joy, I am going to quote Rav Dessler’s excellent essay:[12]

 

“You shall make a festival of Sukkot ... when you gather your harvest ... “[13] Everyone is happy when the harvest is in and they feel that their livelihood for the year is assured. The danger of denying God is self-evident. To obviate this danger, the Torah commands us to “dwell in sukkot for seven days”.[14] This is to teach us that safety is not in mate­rial things, but in our closeness to God. Our shelter is not the roof, but God’s sukka of peace. We realize that true sat­isfaction comes only from banishing material ambitions from our hearts and filling our lives with avodat HaShem.[15]

 

Instead of rejoicing in the harvest, the Torah tells us to “rejoice in your festival”.[16] This means spiritual joy, as an­other verse says, “You shall rejoice before God, your God”.[17] The Talmud learns from this verse, ”and you shall re­joice in your festival”, that one is not allowed to cele­brate a marriage during a festival: “Rejoice in your festival and not in your wife”.[18] It is all the more obvious that our joy should not be in our harvest or in our sense of physical security. The joy of the festival is spiritual joy. It is joy in the heartfelt fulfillment that comes from tran­scending material desires and putting in their place the service of HaShem.

 

But how is it possible to change one’s joy from joy in the material to joy in the spiritual? There is only one way in which to do this, which we shall now explain.

 

My rebbe told me this in the name of the Vilna Gaon, of blessed memory. It is impossible to sow a field unless it has first been plowed. Similarly, the blockage in our heart, tim tum ha-lev, prevents spiritual feelings from penetrating it. The hard peel surrounding the heart must first be pierced. Only then can spiritual insights be sown, and only then can fruit be expected to grow, in the form of changed attitudes.

 

How can the hard soil of the heart be plowed? With strong emotional upheaval. This can come from sudden dis­aster or from great joy. When a person is in a state of great excitement, for whatever reason, his heart opens. A person can now impress on it whatever he likes. He can say to himself: Now is my chance! The hard casing of my heart has been broken open. Quick! I must sow in it what I want.

 

The origin of the great joy may have been nothing more than a good harvest. But now that the heart is ex­cited and aroused, its habitual blockage is removed. This provides the opportunity to show one’s heart that the joy of spiritual success far exceeds the joy of material success. Here is the chance to transform one’s joy into another, higher level of joy.

 

The water-drawing ceremony which took place during the nights of the Sukkot festival was one of the highlights of the service in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. “One who has never seen the water-drawing ceremony in the Holy Temple has never seen joy in his life.”[19] This ceremony and the water libation-nissuch ha-mayim, that followed it were in essence a prayer for rain for the coming year. But our Rabbis transformed it into a celebration of the spirit. “Why is it called ‘the joy of the water-drawing’? Because from it they used to draw the holy spirit.”[20] Prophets used to draw their inspiration from this dra­matic and joy-inspiring ceremony.[21]

 

So we see what the Torah meant by “Make a festival when you gather …”[22]  Use the physical joy of gather­ing the harvest as a springboard to reach spiritual joy. Then your joy will be complete. You will experience the supreme happiness of transforming the lower into the higher-the darkness of denial into the great light of faith in God.

 

With this in mind, we can now understand the custom prevalent among Hassidim to arouse joy and good humor through external means, such as the judicious use of liq­uor. They use joyous occasions to speak words of Torah and serving Hashem. Whoever instituted this obviously understood the secret of opening the heart and sowing seeds of Torah and hessed, as we discussed above.

 

It is wonderful to see how all Jewish customs, in every section of Jewry, have the same goal, to further Torah and deepen our avodat HaShem.[23]

 

VI. The Sabbatical Year Torah reading

 

Moshe, just before he died, taught the Children of Israel the mitzvah of Hakhel: That every seven years on the first day of the intermediate days of Succoth, the entire nation, including small children, is to gather together at the Temple to hear the King read from the Book of Devarim

(Deuteronomy). The sections that he reads, deal with faithfulness to HaShem, the covenant, and reward and punishment.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:10-13 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of [every] seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, When all Israel comes to appear before HaShem your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people--men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns--so they can listen and learn to fear HaShem your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear HaShem your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

 

Solomon celebrates Succoth:

 

I Melakim (Kings) 8:1-65 Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of HaShem’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. All the men of Israel came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month. When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, And they brought up the ark of HaShem and the Tent of Meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, And King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted. The priests then brought the ark of HaShem’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where HaShem made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of HaShem. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of HaShem filled his temple. Then Solomon said, “HaShem has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.” While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. Then he said: “Praise be to HaShem, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, ‘Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built for my Name to be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.’ “My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of HaShem, the God of Israel. But HaShem said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood--he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’ “HaShem has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as HaShem promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of HaShem, the God of Israel. I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of HaShem that he made with our fathers when he brought them out of Egypt.” Then Solomon stood before the altar of HaShem in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven And said: “HaShem, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below--you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it--as it is today. “Now HaShem, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me as you have done.’ And now, O God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true. “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, HaShem my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. “When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple, Then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence. “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, Then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers. “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, Then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance. “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, And when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel--each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple-- Then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), So that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers. “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name-- For men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm--when he comes and prays toward this temple, Then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to HaShem toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, Then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. “When they sin against you--for there is no one who does not sin--and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near; And if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; And if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; Then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy; For they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace. “May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign HaShem, brought our fathers out of Egypt.” When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to HaShem, he rose from before the altar of HaShem, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying: “Praise be to HaShem, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May HaShem our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before HaShem, be near to HaShem our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, So that all the peoples of the earth may know that HaShem is God and that there is no other. But your hearts must be fully committed to HaShem our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before HaShem. Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to HaShem: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of HaShem. On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of HaShem, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar before HaShem was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings.. So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him--a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before HaShem our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all.

 

II Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 7:1-10 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of HaShem filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of HaShem because the glory of HaShem filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of HaShem above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to HaShem, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before HaShem. And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God. The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with HaShem’s musical instruments, which King David had made for praising HaShem and which were used when he gave thanks, saying, “His love endures forever.” Opposite the Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing. Solomon consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of HaShem, and there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar he had made could not hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions. So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him--a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things HaShem had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.

 

VII. The Services In The Synagogue

 

All of the synagogue services are modeled after the ones in the Temple. The services in the Temple were given by HaShem to David who passed them on to Solomon:

 

I Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 28:11-13 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of HaShem and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of HaShem, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service.

 

* * *

 

Each day of Succoth, in the Temple, the people in the courtyard would hold their four species (lulav – lulab) and make a circular procession around the altar. During the procession they would pray for HaShem’s blessing, punctuating each phrase of the prayer with the word hoshana, Please save (or, Save now)! Because of this constantly repeated word, the entire prayer came to be known as Hoshanot.

 

On each of the first six days of Succoth there would be one circuit around the Altar, and on the seventh day there would be seven. For this reason the seventh day was called Hoshana Rabbah, or the Great Hoshana. It is customary to wear your tallit over your head during the procession.

 

This mitzva, which God commanded orally to Moses on Mount Sinai, applied only in the Temple. After the destruction, however, the Jewish people universally adopted the custom to continue these circuits in their synagogues as an eternal remembrance of the Temple service. For the first six days the role of the altar is played by a single member of the congregation standing at the bimah (Torah reading lectern), holding a Torah scroll, while the procession takes place around him. On Hoshana Rabbah, all the scrolls are removed from the holy ark and those holding them gather at the bimah.

 

Since the four species are not taken on the Sabbath, there is no circuit around the synagogue because, in the Temple, the procession was made only by people holding the four species. However, the Hoshana service is recited on the Sabbath. Although the ark is opened, a Torah scroll is not removed from it.

 

There are two primary customs as to the part of the service when Hoshanot are recited. In most congregations that follow Nusach Ashkenaz, they are recited after mussaf, because in the Temple the procession took place after the Mussaf offering. In Nusach Sefard congregations they are recited after Hallel because the congregation has its four species in hand at that point and it is inconvenient to put them away and take them again for Hoshanot.[24]

 

WATER

 

Water was a prominent part of Succoth. There was a water libation in the Temple. There were the leafy plants (the four species), which require an abundance of water to grow, and the threat in Zechariah concerns rain:

 

Zechariah 14:1-21 A day of HaShem is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then HaShem will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then HaShem my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime--a day known to HaShem. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the Eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. HaShem will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one HaShem, and his name the only name. The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure. This is the plague with which HaShem will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day men will be stricken by HaShem with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected--great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps. Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, HaShem Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, HaShem Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. HaShem will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. On that day HOLY TO HaShem will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in HaShem’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to HaShem Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of HaShem Almighty.

 

The exiles return from Babylon to celebrate one of the greatest Succoth ever:

 

Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah) 3:1-4 When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man in Jerusalem. Then Yeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to HaShem, both the morning and evening sacrifices. Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.

 

Ezra-Nechemiah)8:13-18 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah) the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which HaShem had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. And that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths”--as it is written. So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. Day after day, from the first day to the last, Nehemiah read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.

 

From the days of Joshua (about 1400 B.C.E) till the days of Nehemiah (about 530 B.C.E.) which is about 870 years!

 

The reading of the Law (above) may indicate that this was a seventh year Sabbath.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:10-11 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, When all Israel comes to appear before HaShem your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing.

 

VIII. The Succah

 

 

It is said in the name of the Vilna Gaon that there are only two opportunities among all the 613 mitzvot to physically “enter the mitzva.” One is the opportunity to live in Eretz Yisrael, and the other to be in the succah you have constructed for the Festival of Succoth. When you cross the border into the land of Israel, or walk into the succah, you have “entered” the mitzva.

 

The Hakhamim have noted that the mitzva of the Succah is unique in that one performs it with his whole body. He “walks into” the mitzva fully clothed, down to the mud on his boots. In this way, the mitzva of the Succah is similar to that of building the Land of Israel. There is even a source for this parallel in Psalms:

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 76:2 “And His Succah was in Shalem, and His dwelling place in Zion.”

 

The Vilna Gaon notes another similarity: Just as one is commanded to personally construct his own Succah, so is he commanded to become personally involved in the mitzva of building the land of Israel. These are the acts which HaShem rewards.

 

Moreover, one can even perform the mitzva of Succah while he is asleep. The halacha deems sleeping in a Succah even more important than eating there. This indicates that there are mitzvot which HaShem’s people performs while “doing nothing”, a sign of the unique nature of the Jewish soul. Likewise, the mitzva of living in Eretz Israel is also fulfilled while asleep.

 

We recognize HaShem in every realm of life, both by words and deeds. We don’t only thank Him for our food, but live the message that He’s our Sole Provider, by refraining from certain foods, and sometimes from all food, at His command. So, besides our profound prayers upon sleeping and awakening, basic daily experiences (supra), Jewish males are commanded to sleep only in the succah one week a year, on Succoth (females MAY do so, with due credit; apparently, whatever succah is supposed to do for Jews is already found in Jewesses, unnecessary for their mission, or achieved by other means). This law is even stricter than eating in the succah, light snacks may be eaten outside it, while even a catnap must be slept in it (see Succah 25a, 26a, and all the Codes). But one SHOULDN’T dwell in the succah, if its uncomfortable, e.g. cold and wet, unlike one’s home, or if he has to do an important mitzva; some travelers are exempt (see Succah 25f, Sefer Hachinuch #325). Some, e.g. pupils of the Besht and Reb Levi Yitzchak, were impervious to such discomfort, amidst their religious ecstasy in the succah, they ate or slept there, despite cold, rain, etc.

 

The Shulchan Aruch of Rav Schneur Zalman, also requires that every nap be in the Succah, the most observant Jews back then slept in their cold succoth; he even urges Hassidim to build a succah in which they can sleep comfortably with their wives, thus fulfilling two mitzvot (639:7f) and bringing us joy.

 

The central theme of the Feast of Succoth is JOY. This theme is represented by the construction of your Succah. The walls can be made of any material, as long as they are sturdy enough to withstand a normal wind. You must have at least two complete walls and a small part of a third wall. The roof can be made of any organic vegetation that is detached from the ground (but not from any finished vessel or from metal or food.) The roof must be sufficiently covered so that it gives more shade than sun during the daytime. Yet it must be sufficiently open so that the stars are visible at night.

 

It is most important to at least eat a bread meal in the Succah on the first night of Succoth. Beyond that, if one find it too uncomfortable to be in the Succah, the Sages say that you can go back into your house. Because if one is preoccupied with his own discomfort, then he’ll miss the whole point of being in the Succah anyway! Torah is not meant to be painful. For as King Solomon says:

 

Mishlei (Proverbs) 3:7 “[The Torah’s] ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace”.

 

Whenever we sit in the Succah and eat food made of grain, we say the following blessing:

 

“Baruch ata Adonai, Elo-heinu Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu bi’mitzvo-tav, vi’tzivanu lay-shave ba-succah.”

 

Blessed are You, HaShem our G-d, King of the Universe, who sanctified us with His mitzvot, and instructed us to sit in the succah.

 

The Kabbalists say that when a Jews dwells in the Succah, the presence of HaShem dwells with him. It is as if the Almighty has invited us to enter His holy palace, to sit at His table and share in His goodness. Perhaps this is why Succah is one of the few mitzvot we perform with our entire body. We are literally immersed and bathed in the spiritual energy. Look over your head and see the sky allowing, as it were, heaven to descend through your ceiling and infuse your Succah.

 

The Talmud says that in the days of the Mashiach, all of HaShem ‘s people will dwell together in one gigantic Succah. This underscores the need for Jewish unity. Perhaps this is the reason why on Succoth we take the four species, Etrog, Lulav, myrtle and willow, bind them close together, and wave them in all directions. We declare that all of the House of Israel are part of the same unit. And we pledge to discover how all these parts can work together to accomplish our lofty goals.

 

Protection

 

When the Jews left Egypt and began wandering in the barren desert, they were unarmed, unprotected, and left vulnerable to the elements of wind, cold, heat, bandits and animals. Since they were constantly travelling, HaShem instructed them to build flimsy, temporary booths, called succoth (plural of succah). These hardly provided any protection from the elements! Yet the Children of Israel learned a profound lesson: Safety and security does not come through thick walls and burglar alarms, but ultimately through trust and reliance in HaShem . In other words, if HaShem is for us, any shelter will suffice. If HaShem is against us, no shelter will protect us.

 

Today, we re-learn that same lesson every year by building our own Succah. For an entire week, we leave the comfort and “security” of our homes, and venture out into our flimsy, temporary Succah. For an entire week, we absorb the lesson of our ancestors. We eat in the Succah, socialize in the Succah, and learn Torah in the Succah. (In effect everything, except for going to the bathroom, which is considered a dishonor to the Succah.) Weather permitting, we even sleep in the Succah. The Succah becomes our temporary home!

 

The succah is designed to provide protection. It not only provides protection when we are in our succah, but it provides protection to it’s owner all year! The succah’s protection involves building emunah, faithfullness, in us.

 

The Zohar states: “One who has a portion in the People and in the Holy Land sits in the “shadow of emunah” (the kabbalistic term for the succah) to receive the ushpizin (honored guests), to rejoice in this world and the next.” The Zohar tells us one who dwells in the Succah is completely encompassed in The Divine Presence. For that reason, it calls the Succah: tzila d’mehemnusa, or the shadow of emunah. Dwelling in the Succah is very conducive for emunah, since a person attains phenomenal proximity to HaShem within the walls of a kosher succah.

 

One other interesting aspect of Succah is that it is the opposite of Pesach (Passover). In the Zohar, the most ancient and mystical book we have, matza is called the bread of emunah, where as the Succah is called the shadow of emunah. On Pesach we take the mitzvah (the commandment) which is matzot and we put it inside of us. However on Succah we put ourselves inside of the mitzva, inside the Succah.

 

The Zohar also states, “One who leaves the shadow of emunah inherits exile for himself and his children.” It thus appears, writes R’ Goren, that the mitzvah of succah is connected to the holiness of Eretz Yisrael.

 

This world is like a succah, a flimsy affair not capable of protection, but the shadow of emunah that hovers over someone who sits in the succah is stronger than a concrete roof a dozen feet deep.

 

The nation who dwells in the shadow of emunah proclaims that existence extends beyond the here and now, beyond what can be perceived by the five senses of man. Emunah is something that takes place in the shade. The nation that dwells in the shadow of emunah draws that emunah from the succah, for the shade of the succah is the shadow of emunah!

 

As simple an action as sitting in the shade of the succah can cause the wind to blow, the rain to fall in its season, the sick to recover, famine to abate, and peace to descend on this world.

 

The Succah represents our prayer for protection from unseasonal rains.

 

The Torah teaches us that after we have survived an intense situation of great danger, the very next thing that happens is that the one who was in danger, he enters a succah. Consider Yaakov:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 33:16-17 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir. 17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.

 

The torah does not juxtapose these events haphazardly. We know that when the Torah puts two events together, they are always related.

 

Yaakov built succoth for his animals. Why did he build a succah for the animals before he built his own house? The mystics teach us that animals represent the lower or animal side of man. Yaakov was putting his lower side into the protection of the succah. After his encounter with Esau, Yaakov needed this protections. It is also interesting that these animals had been Laban’s animals that HaShem had given to Yaakov. Laban represents the power of this world.

 

We see the succah again in the days of Moshe, right after they left Egypt:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:36-37 And HaShem gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. 37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:17-20 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.

 

This message is repeated for Jews every year when we enter the judgment of Rosh HaShana (Tishri 1) and Yom HaKippurim (Tishri 10). This judgment puts us all in mortal and financial danger. The next thing that happens right after this dangerous time of judgment… We sit in the succah on Succoth (Tishri 15)!

 

If you look closely at each of these examples, you will see that not only did the succah provide protection after a period of danger, note that it also was the place of freedom. This is consistent with what we read in the Zohar:

 

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 103a Thus whoever abides under the shadow of faith acquires freedom for himself and his descendants in perpetuity, and is blessed with a noble blessing, but he who withdraws from the shadow of faith brings captivity upon himself and for his children, as it is written, “And he took some of them captive”.

 

Halacha

 

No more than two Aravot are used, but many Hadassim may be used.

 

We make a point of binding the Lulav in the Succah and on Erev Yom Tov. (1)

 

Two rings are placed on the Lulav proper, and these should be covered by the Hadassim and Aravot, even the top ring, at least somewhat.

 

In addition, three rings are used to bind the Hadassim and Aravot to the Lulav.

 

These three rings are to be all within one handbreadth.

 

* * *

 

So from where do we learn that the cover, the Scach, is made of real tree branches? And what kind of branches are Kosher, or prefarable? Says the Talmud (Succah): We derive the halachah from the book of Nechemiah, where it is said that as they came back from the Diasporah to the Land of Israel, the people assembled on Rosh HaShanah in Jerusalem to listen to the reading of the Torah by Ezrah the scribe. And as they heard what is written in the Torah, they all cried, and repented, and celebrated the holiday. Then, on the second day, Ezrah read again the Torah to the people, this time about Succoth, and Ezra told them: Go up the mountains surrounding Jerusalem and bring from there olive tree branches, palm trees branches, etc. Each of the trees mentioned by Ezrah has become a prefarable kind of S’chach (roofing material) for Succoth.

 

The story, then, as told in Nechemiah is extremely important as a source for the laws of Succoth. From there we derive the defintion what S’chach is. And the text there says that when they brought the branches and made the Succoth they were extremely joyfull. And the vesrse adds: They celebrated the Succoth unlike anyone had done since the time of Joshua the son of Nun”.

 

* * *

 

The dimensions for a succah are given in:

 

Succah 2a Whence do we know this? — Rabbah answered: Scripture says, That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, [with a booth] up to twenty cubits [high] a man ‘knows’ that he is dwelling in a booth, but with one higher than twenty cubits he does not ‘know’ that he is dwelling in a booth, since his eye does not descry it. R. Zera replied: From the following verse, And there shall be a booth for a shadow in the daytime from the heat. [With a booth] up to twenty cubits [high] a man sits in the shade of the booth; but with one higher than twenty cubits he sits, not in the shade of the booth but in the shade of its walls. Said Abaye to him, But if so, if a man made his Succah in Ashteroth Karnayim’ would it also be no valid Succah? — He answered him: In that case, remove the ‘Ashteroth Karnayim’ and there will remain the shade of the Succah, but here, remove the walls, and you have no shade of a Succah.

 

Raba replied: [It is derived] from the following verse, Ye shall dwell in booths seven days, the Torah declared, For the whole seven days leave thy permanent abode and dwell in a temporary abode. [With a booth] up to twenty cubits [high] a man makes his abode a temporary one; [in one] higher than twenty cubits, a man does not make his abode temporary, but permanent.[25] Said Abaye to him, But if so, if he made walls of iron and placed the [proper] covering over them, would it also be no valid Succah. The other answered him, it is this that I mean to tell you: [In a booth] up to twenty cubits, which a man makes his temporary abode, even if he makes it permanent, he has fulfilled his obligation; [but in one] higher than twenty cubits, such as a man makes his permanent abode, even if he makes it temporary, he has not fulfilled his obligation.

 

BUILDING A SUKKAH

 

Selecting a site:

 

To build you own Succah, first select a site that has nothing hanging above it, ie a roof or a tree. The Succah floor space must be at least thirty inches by thirty inches, the minimum space for most of a person to sit with a small table. If you don’t have a yard, then an apartment balcony will do just fine (provided it has no roof!).

 

The walls:

 

For a “kosher” Succah, you’ll need at least three complete walls. The walls can be of any material, as long as they are sturdy enough to withstand a normal wind. The walls should be at least forty inches high, but not higher than thirty feet.

 

You don’t have to build walls especially for the Succah; you can use the side of a building. And if you can find an area that is already enclosed by two or three walls, then your job will be that much easier!

 

The roof:

 

This is the tricky part. First of all, the roof of a kosher Succah must be made from material that grows from the ground, i.e. wood or leaves (but not metal, or any food). If you’re using natural boards, they cannot be wider than fifteen inches. The Talmudic term for this roof material is S’chach (same root as the word Succah).

 

Also, the material must be presently detached from the ground (i.e. don’t just bend a tree over the top of your Succah!).

 

The roof material can only be added after the requisite number of walls are in place.

 

The roof must be sufficiently covered so that it gives more shade than sun during the daytime. Yet it should be sufficiently open so that the stars are visible through the roof at night.

 

Since the Succah is designated as your “home” for the next seven days, it is customary to decorate it nicely. Many people hang fruits and flowers from the ceiling, and tape posters of Jerusalem and other Jewish themes on the walls.

 

During the entire seven days of the festival of Succoth, all meals are eaten in the Succah, unless it rains. the performance of the mitzvah of succah also requires special merit, as we find in Tractate Succah, Chapter 2, Mishna 9. The laws of Succoth state that the mitzva to sit in the succah is negated by heavy rain. Our mishna reads: “Rain falls ... to what can this be compared? To a servant who comes to pour a drink for his master and the master throws the flask in his face.” If the Jewish People don’t follow God’s ways, then He brings rain so they won’t be able to perform the mitzva.

 

Special Blessing

 

When partaking of a meal containing at least two ounces of bread or cake, we say the blessing “Le-shev Ba-Suk-kah.”

 

Clouds of Glory

Rabbi Yehuda Samet,

based on Mayana Shel Torah

 

We refer to the three festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Succoth as the ‘time of our freedom,’ the ‘time of the giving of the Torah,’ and the ‘time of our rejoicing.’ We understand that Pesach is the time of year we were freed from Egypt and Shavuot the time of year we received the Torah at Mount Sinai, but why is Succoth called the time of simcha? What special event took place at that time? Why do we celebrate Succoth in the month of Tishrei? Since the festival of Succoth commemorates the clouds of glory that surrounded the Jewish People for forty years from the time of the exodus from Egypt, Pesach would seem to be a more appropriate time. Perhaps the answer lies in the words of the Vilna Gaon. After the sin of the golden calf, the clouds of glory disappeared, and returned only after the Jewish People were commanded to build the Mishkan. On the day after Yom HaKippurim, the 11th of Tishri Moshe told the people to bring donations for the building of the Mishkan. They brought them for two days, and on the 14th of Tishri the makers of the Mishkan gathered the materials. Finally, on the 15th they began their work, and the clouds of glory returned. Perhaps this is the simcha of Succoth, the time of the reunification of HaShem with the Jewish People, represented by the return of the clouds of glory. Each year, after experiencing the introspective month of Elul and the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, the ten Days of Repentance, we come to Succoth with simcha; because, through our repentance and teshuva we have drawn closer to HaShem, and arrived at z’man simchaseinu (the time of our rejoicing).

 


IX. The Four Species

 

 

One of the important mitvot is that of the arba minim - the four species - also called the lulav and the etrog (palm branch and citron).

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before HaShem your God for seven days.

 

“The trees” is interpreted by the Hakhamim to refer specifically to an etrog (citron), and the “palm fronds,” “leafy branches,” and “poplars” have been interpreted as a lulav (palm branch), hadasim (myrtle), and aravot (willows), respectively.

 

Laws of the Four Species

 

 

The Torah says:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:40 “You shall take... the beautiful fruit (Etrog), a palm frond, myrtle twigs and willow branches of the stream (Lulav) - and rejoice for seven days before the Lord your G-d.”

 

To be valid for the mitzva, the four species must meet certain requirements. Since the details are many and technical, it is not recommended to search through the forest on your own for these species! (Particularly the Etrog, which can easily be confused with a lemon.) A better idea is to purchase a complete set from a reliable distributor in your area. Your local Jewish book store may have “four species sets” with a rabbinical seal certifying their validity.

 

To be an informed consumer, here are some basic requirements to look for:

 

ETROG

 

- Should preferably be yellow rather than green.

 

- It cannot be punctured through in any spot, nor can it lack any of its inner skin.

 

- The skin cannot be overly soft, cracked, dry or peeled.

 

- Even a small black dot on the upper part invalidates it.

 

- The shape should preferably be like a tower -- wider at the bottom and narrow at the top.

 

- If this particular Esrog grew with a protruding stem (called a pitom), then that stem cannot be broken off. (However, if the Esrog grew in the first place without a pitom, it is still kosher.)

 

MYRTLE

 

- You will need three myrtle branches.

 

- A kosher myrtle has a pattern of three leaves coming out from the same point in the branch. This three-leaf pattern must be repeated over at least half the length of the branch.

 

- Each branch should be at least eleven inches long.

 

- The branch cannot be dried out.

 

WILLOW

 

- You will need two willow branches.

 

- The stem should preferably be red.

 

- The stem should be at least eleven inches long.

 

- The leaves should be oblong, not round in shape.

 

- The leaves should have a smooth edge, not serrated.

 

LULAV

 

 

- Look at the very top of the branch and make sure that the center- most leaf is not split, but rather is closed (at least half-way down).

 

- The top cannot be cut off.

 

- The branch cannot be dried out.

 

- It should be at least sixteen inches long.

 

- The straighter the branch, the better.

 

The basic commandment of the four species consists of holding them in your hand and then shaking them. The four species more specifically consist of a long palm branch that has a holder made of palm leaves. In the holder on your left side, you place two willows (aravot) and on the right side you place three myrtles (hadasim). The citron (etrog) is not attached with the other three species.

 

The ritual:[26] 

 

1. While standing, pick up the lulav with its attached willows and myrtle in your right hand. Hold the lulav so that its spine is toward you. The Willows on the left, one palm branch in the center,

The three myrtles on the right.

 

2. Pick up the etrog in your left hand with its tip (pitom) pointing down. Hold the etrog next to the lulav.

 

3. Recite the following blessing:

 

“Baruch ata Adonai, Elo-heinu Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu bi’mitzvo-tav, vi’tzivanu al ni-tilat lulav.”

 

Blessed are You, HaShem our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and instructed us concerning the waving of the palm branch.

 

Then recite the shehekeyanu:

 

Blessed are You, HaShem our God, King of the universe, for keeping us in life, for sustaining us, and for helping us reach this day.

 

4. Turn the etrog right side up and shake the lulav. Shake it three times in each direction: front, right, back, left, up and down (Sefardim and Chassidim have a different custom for the order). This mitzva should be performed each of the seven days of Succoth, during the daytime.

 

The Talmud, Tractate Succah, explains that we wave the lulav in all directions of the compass and up and down not only to symbolize that HaShem is everywhere, but to beseech Him to protect us from the tempestuous winds which threaten us from all sides. Also, He should save us from the torrential rains pouring down from above and the flood waters raging from below.

 

X. Succoth in the future

 

Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 45:17 - 46:5 It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths--at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel. “‘This is what the Sovereign HaShem says: In the first month on the first day you are to take a young bull without defect and purify the sanctuary. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the upper ledge of the altar and on the gateposts of the inner court. You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make atonement for the temple. “‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a feast lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast. On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land. Every day during the seven days of the Feast he is to provide seven bulls and seven rams without defect as a burnt offering to HaShem, and a male goat for a sin offering. He is to provide as a grain offering an ephah for each bull and an ephah for each ram, along with a hin of oil for each ephah. “‘During the seven days of the Feast, which begins in the seventh month on the fifteenth day, he is to make the same provision for sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings and oil. “‘This is what the Sovereign HaShem says: The gate of the inner court facing east is to be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon it is to be opened. The prince is to enter from the outside through the portico of the gateway and stand by the gatepost. The priests are to sacrifice his burnt offering and his fellowship offerings. He is to worship at the threshold of the gateway and then go out, but the gate will not be shut until evening. On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of HaShem at the entrance to that gateway. The burnt offering the prince brings to HaShem on the Sabbath day is to be six male lambs and a ram, all without defect. The grain offering given with the ram is to be an ephah, and the grain offering with the lambs is to be as much as he pleases, along with a hin of oil for each ephah.

 

and:

 

Zechariah 14:1-21

 

Here we see HaShem rebuilding David’s succah:

 

Amos 9:8-15 “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign HaShem are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth--yet I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” declares HaShem. “For I will give the command, and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, ‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’ “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, So that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares HaShem, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares HaShem, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says HaShem your God.

 

Amos 9:11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

 

5521 cukkah, sook-kaw’; fem. of 5520; a hut or lair:-booth, cottage, covert, pavilion, tabernacle, tent.

----------------- Dictionary Trace ---------------------

5520 cok, soke; from 5526; a hut (as of entwined boughs); also a lair:- covert, den, pavilion, tabernacle.

 

The following ‘rooms’ are not succoth yet they are certainly an allusion to a succah:

 

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 26:16-21 HaShem, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer. As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, HaShem. We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth; we have not given birth to people of the world. But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, HaShem is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.

 

Rabbi Levi taught that he who fulfills the mitzva of succah in this world will be sheltered from the fires of the Day of Judgment (Pesikta D’Rav Kahana 29).

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 27 is recited at the minchah service on Erev Succoth:

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 27:1-14 {Of David.} HaShem is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? HaShem is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of HaShem, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of HaShem all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of HaShem and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to HaShem. Hear my voice when I call, HaShem; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, HaShem, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, HaShem will receive me. Teach me your way, HaShem; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of HaShem in the land of the living. Wait for HaShem; be strong and take heart and wait for HaShem.

 

The word “succah” is derived from 5520 (below). The above word “tabernacle” means:

 

5520 cok, soke; from 5526; a hut (as of entwined boughs); also a lair:- covert, den, pavilion, tabernacle.

----------------- Dictionary Trace ----------------------

5526 cakak, saw-kak’; or sakak (Exod. 33:22), saw-kak’; a prim. root; prop. to entwine as a screen; by impl. to fence in, cover over, (fig.) protect:-cover, defence, defend, hedge in, join together, set, shut up.

 

Here we see HaShem’s succah over us:

 

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 4:1-6 In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, “We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!” In that day the Branch of HaShem will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then HaShem will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

 

Rashi says that the “storm”, which will engulf the wicked, refers to:

 

Daniel 7:9-10 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.

 

Yirimiyah (Jeremiah) 23:19 See, the storm of HaShem will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked.

 

Rashi goes on to say that the “rain” refers to:

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 11:6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.

 

The following reference seems to refer to Succoth as well, since we “know” that Yeshua was born on Succoth:

 

Revelation 12:1-5 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.

 

Keep in mind the constellation ‘Draca’ the dragon which will be in the west at the new moon of the seventh month.

 

XI. Yeshua celebrated Succoth:

 

Yochanan (John) 7:1 - 8:1 After this, Yeshua went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Yeshua’s brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Yeshua told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, “Where is that man?” Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. Not until halfway through the Feast did Yeshua go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” Yeshua answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” Yeshua said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Mashiach? But we know where this man is from; when the Mashiach comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Yeshua, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, But I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Mashiach comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. Yeshua said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Yeshua had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Mashiach.” Still others asked, “How can the Mashiach come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Mashiach will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Yeshua. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared. “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law--there is a curse on them.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Yeshua earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” Then each went to his own home. But Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives.

 

Yeshua’s birthday had an unusual event:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 17:1-9 After six days Yeshua took with him Tzefet (Peter), Yaaqov (James) and Yochanan (John) the brother of Yaaqov (James), and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Yeshua. Tzefet (Peter) said to Yeshua, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Yeshua came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Yeshua. As they were coming down the mountain, Yeshua instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 

Luqas (Luke) 9:28-36 About eight days after Yeshua said this, he took Tzefet (Peter), Yochanan (John) and Yaaqov (James) with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, Appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Yeshua. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Tzefet (Peter) and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Yeshua, Tzefet (Peter) said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Yeshua was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

 

The succah symbolizes several major principles:

 

1. It is a reminder that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, after the Lord led them out of Egypt, pitching tents or building temporary huts.

 

2. The booth is a reminder of the temporary endurance of material buildings as opposed to the permanent and abiding strength of our Lord and the heavenly shelter He promises. In another sense, unless HaShem be for us, no dwelling can save us! If HaShem is for us, any dwelling can save us!

 

3. Our Thanksgiving Day celebration grew out of this festival - Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:39.

 

4. Our obedience to HaShem’s command.

 

XII. Rituals:

 

Hallel (Tehillim (Psalms) 113 - 118) is recited every day of Succoth.

 

The book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is read on the intermediate Shabbat.

 

In biblical times one very important and significant ritual of the Feast of tabernacles was the sending of the priest to the Pool of Siloam with a golden pitcher to draw water which was poured into a bowl at the altar, in the Temple. This ceremony lasted seven days. The last day was called Hoshana Rabba, meaning the Day of the Great Hosanna. All of this was done as the priests blew the trumpets. With the waving of branches, the Levites and all the people sang the Great Hallel, that is, Tehillim (Psalms) 113 through 118. Towards the end of the Hallel are the words, ‘Save now, I beseech Thee, O Lord’ (Tehillim (Psalms) 118:25).

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 113:1-9 Praise HaShem. Praise, O servants of HaShem, praise the name of HaShem. Let the name of HaShem be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of HaShem is to be praised. HaShem is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like HaShem our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, Who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise HaShem.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 114:1-8 When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, O sea, that you fled, O Jordan, that you turned back, You mountains, that you skipped like rams, you hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 115:1-18 Not to us, HaShem, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. O house of Israel, trust in HaShem--he is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust in HaShem--he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in HaShem--he is their help and shield. HaShem remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, He will bless those who fear HaShem--small and great alike. May HaShem make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by HaShem, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to HaShem, but the earth he has given to man. It is not the dead who praise HaShem, those who go down to silence; It is we who extol HaShem, both now and forevermore. Praise HaShem.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 116:1-19 I love HaShem, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of HaShem: “HaShem, save me!” HaShem is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. HaShem protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for HaShem has been good to you. For you, HaShem, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, That I may walk before HaShem in the land of the living. I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.” How can I repay HaShem for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of HaShem. I will fulfill my vows to HaShem in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of HaShem is the death of his saints. HaShem, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of HaShem. I will fulfill my vows to HaShem in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the house of HaShem--in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise HaShem.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 117:1-2 Praise HaShem, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of HaShem endures forever. Praise HaShem.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 118:1-29 Give thanks to HaShem, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear HaShem say: “His love endures forever.” In my anguish I cried to HaShem, and he answered by setting me free. HaShem is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? HaShem is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in HaShem than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in HaShem than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of HaShem I cut them off. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of HaShem I cut them off. They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of HaShem I cut them off. I was pushed back and about to fall, but HaShem helped me. HaShem is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “HaShem’s right hand has done mighty things! HaShem’s right hand is lifted high; HaShem’s right hand has done mighty things!” I will not die but live, and will proclaim what HaShem has done. HaShem has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to HaShem. This is the gate of HaShem through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; HaShem has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day HaShem has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. HaShem, save us; HaShem, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of HaShem. From the house of HaShem we bless you. HaShem is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to HaShem, for he is good; his love endures forever.

 

Succoth and Jericho

by Atara Sendor, Sharon Chapter

 

Every day of Succoth, we circle the Bima once with our Lulavim for Hoshanot. On Hoshana Rabba, we circle the Bima seven times, as they circled the altar in the Beit HaMikdash. Why do we circle specifically seven times? Why do we circle seven times on Hoshana Rabba and not on the other days of Succoth? The answers to these questions give insight to the ultimate purpose of the entire festival of Succoth.

 

The Sefer Ta’amei HaMinhagim U’Mekorei HaDinim states that the circling seven times is parallel to the seven times Yehoshua and his army circled the city of Yericho before capturing it, which was an extremely pivotal act.

 

The connection is through the Hebrew root. The word VaEsoveva, and I will circle, only appears in two places in the Tanach. In Shir HaShirim (3:2), it says “I will get up and circle the city,” which, to the author of Sefer Ta’amei HaMinhagim U’Mekorei HaDinim, refers to Yericho. Tehillim (26:6) says, “I will circle your altar, HaShem,” which connects circling the Mizbeach to circling Yericho; the Mizbeach was circled seven times on Hoshana Rabba just as Yericho was circled seven times when conquering it.

 

We have connected Yericho to the Mizbeach. The great Rebbeim of Rupshitz clarify the connection between Yericho and Hoshana Rabba vis a vis the Mizbeach by bringing down the less practiced custom of blowing the shofar seven times during the Hakafot on Hoshana Rabba. They say the source of this was also from Yericho. In Yericho, the people circled the city once a day for six days, and on the seventh day, they circled seven times, while the Kohanim blew shofrot and carried the Aron around. The blowing, seemingly miraculously, made the city wall fall down. On Hoshana Rabba, we should blow the shofar and do the seven Hakafot to make the “... iron wall between us and the Holy One Blessed Be He fall down.”

 

This, in fact, is the purpose of Hoshana Rabba and Succoth in general: to break down the barrier between us and HaShem. The beginning of the pasuk in Tehillim is “Erchatz B’Nikayon Kapi / I will wash my hands in purity.” The purpose of this circling of the Mizbeach is to purify the self, which is what we try to do on Succoth. One may incorrectly believe that the only intense days for asking for forgiveness are from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur. However, Succoth is such a day, too. For seven days, we live in a Succah, removing ourselves from material possessions which distance us from G-d. The number seven traditionally represents, shlemus, completion, within nature. On Succoth we spend seven complete days getting close to G-d through nature. By the seventh day, hopefully, we are ready to crash the gates of heaven.

 

Water drawing - Nissuch Ha-Mayim

 

 

The Mishna says: “Anyone who has not witnessed the rejoicing of the libation water-well, Beit HaSho’eivah, has never seen rejoicing in his life”[27] 

 

In the Midrash Rabbah Bereshit (Genesis) LXX:8, we read, “Why is the name of it called the drawing out of water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: ‘With joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation‘“.[28]

 

Yochanan (John) 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Yeshua had not yet been glorified.

 

Throughout the year, a wine libation accompanied the daily tamid-offering. Each day of Succoth an additional libation of water was poured.[29] Although this water libation is not mentioned specifically in the Torah, it is alluded to in the section Numbers 29 describing the Succoth mussaf (additional) sacrifices where three superfluous letters are inserted.

 

In describing the mussaf of the second day (v.19), the Torah uses the word “their libations” (rather than “it’s libation” - the expression used for the other days). Thus, there is an extra ‘mem’. For the sixth day the Torah uses “it’s libations” (v.31), providing an extra ‘yod’. And in describing the seventh day (v.33), the Torah uses the word ...... rather than the word ..... which appears on all other days - again an extra ‘mem’. The three extra letters spell ‘mem yod mem’, water, an allusion to the Succoth water libation.[30] Thus, ‘On the second day there is an allusion to the pouring of the water libation’.

 

This special libation was performed ONLY during the seven days of Succoth. All other libations, in the Temple, were of wine poured on the Altar, but during the seven days of Succoth water was poured simultaneously with the wine libation as part of the daily burnt offering in the morning.[31]

 

The Kohen performing the ceremony filled a golden flagon holding three lugin of water from the Shiloach, a well near Jerusalem. When they reached the Water Gate, one of the Southern Gates of the Temple Courtyard they sounded a tekiah, teruah, and a tekiah. He went up the ramp and turned to his left. There were two silver bowls there: The western one was for water; the Eastern one was for wine.[32]

 

Devout men and men of good deeds would dance before them with the flaming torches in their hands and would utter before them words of songs and praises of HaShem. The Levites with harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and countless other musical instruments would stand on the fifteen steps that descend from the Courtyard of the Israelites to the Women’s Courtyard. Two Kohanim stood at the Upper Gate that descends from the Courtyard of the Israelites to the Women’s Courtyard with two trumpets in their hands. When the crier called out at dawn, the two Kohanim sounded a tekiah, teruah, and tekiah. When those who brought the water that had been drawn from the well of Shiloach reached the tenth step between the Women’s Courtyard and the Israelite’s Courtyard, the Kohanim sounded a tekiah, teruah, and a tekiah. They would continue sounding tekiah until they reached the gate leading out to the east.[33]

 

One opinion, among many, is that the golden pitcher contained approximately 30.6 ounces of water. Some say it was much more.

 

The water gate was so named because the High Priest brought the golden pitcher of water, from the pool of siloam through this gate, to the Temple.

 

‘At four junctures of the year the world is judged... and on the Festival of Succoth they are judged for the water (i.e., the rainfall)’.[34]

 

The Illumination of the Temple

 

Another ceremony of Succoth, the illumination of the Temple, also had it’s source in Jewish tradition. According to the Mishna, at the end of the first day of Tabernacles, the priests and Levites went down to the court of the women. Four enormous golden candlesticks were set up in the court (fifty cubits high) with four golden bowls placed upon them and four ladders resting against each. Four youths of priestly descent stood at the top of the ladders holding ten-gallon pitchers filled with pure oil, which they poured into each bowl.[35]

 

There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not illuminated by the light of the Beit HaSho’eivah.[36]

 

The priests and Levites used their own worn-out liturgical clothing for wicks. The light emanating from the four candelabra was so bright that the Mishna says, “There was no courtyard in Jerusalem that was not lit up with the light at the libation water-well ceremony”.[37]

 

Yochanan (John) 8:12 When Yeshua spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

It is customary to invite and welcome seven exalted guests, to join us when we enter the succah. No ordinary guests, the guests are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. Each day of Succoth another of these guests leads the others into the succah. This is based on a passage from the Zohar.

 

It is customary to say HaMotzi, Kiddush, and the following blessing:

 

Blessed are You, HaShem our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments and instructed us to sit in the Succah.

 

XIII. Chol HaMoed

 

Laws of Chol HaMoed[38]

 

On the intermediate days of Hag HaSuccoth, we are allowed to cook and to do anything for the prevention of a loss. That is, if by not doing it you will incur a loss. We must be careful not to desicrate Chol HaMoed because the Rabbis of blessed memory, said: “He who desecrates Chol HaMoed is considered as though he worshipped idols”.[39] The Rabbis have also said that those who disgraces Chol HaMoed have no share in the World to Come.[40] Disgracing Chol HaMoed implies not honoring it with better food and drink and wearing better clothes.

 

Fertilizing and planting a field are forbidden. It is forbidden to pluck or cut off anything that is growing, unless the fruit will spoil.[41]

 

It is forbidden to shave on Chol HaMoed[42]. Cutting your nails is also forbidden[43], unless you also cut them on Erev Yom Tov or it it required for the mikveh.[44]

 

It is forbidden to launder clothes unless it was impossible to wash before Yom Tov.

 

Anything required to restore health is permitted to be done.

 

We should write only what is required. Social letters are customarily written with a slight change.[45] However, you may not purposely leave your writing for Yom Tov.

 

Weddings are not performed on Chol HaMoed because one kind of rejoicing should not be mixed with another.

 

It is not permitted to mate a male animal to a female animal because no loss is sustained by delaying it.

* * *

 

Every Shabbat Chol Hamoed Succoth we read the Haftorah (Yechezkel, Chapter 38) about the final confrontation at the end of days between Gog and the nation of Israel. How does Succoth connect with Gog, Magog and the end of days?

 

It is ironic to note that after the exodus from Egypt, while travelling in the desert, a place that offers absolutely no natural security or protection, the Jewish people experienced their greatest sense of true security, protected from their enemies and entirely provided for by God. Every year, when the Jew leaves his home for a week to eat, sleep and live in a succah; an often flimsy structure with a roof made of bits of wood, reed, bamboo, etc., he actualizes this idea that ultimate care and protection come only from HaShem. By virtue of the closeness to HaShem he has achieved during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, he can now experience a sense of true security.

 

The word “Gog” in Hebrew means roof. Modern man, divorced from a belief in God, deeply believes that a good job, a big bank account, a solid economy, a high tech army, in short, a strong solid “roof over his head,” is the source of true security. These two world views cannot co-exist forever. We are told by the prophets that armageddon is inevitable, a final confrontation that will witness the destruction of mankind’s false faith. Succoth teaches us that our apparently flimsy roofs will ultimately be triumphant over modern man’s misguided sense of security.

Rabbi Chaim Salenger

 

XIV. Customs

 

The seventh day of the mitzva of Succah and “the four species” was named Hoshana Rabbah for the prayer Hoshana. On this day, the altar was circled seven times, while the following words were repeated:

 

Save now, I beseech you, HaShem; HaShem, I beseech you, send now prosperity.”

 

Today, we march around the Bimah (reader’s pulpit) seven times with the Torah, reciting the same Hoshana prayer. On this day, the lulavim wave repeatedly, signifying the nation’s prayer for rain. The night of Hoshana Rabbah is the culmination of judgment, the day when our future fate is decided upon and sealed for the coming year. The night has thus come to be called LEYL HA-CHOTAM--the night of the sealing of man’s fate. On Simchat Torah (the last day of the Succoth festival), the annual cycle of the Torah reading is completed, and immediately begun again, symbolizing the nation’s eternity. The reader who finished the last portion of the Torah is called Chatan Torah, bridegroom of the Torah, and the reader who begins Bereshit (the first portion of the Torah) is called Chatan Bereshit, bridegroom of Bereshit (Genesis). On this day, the Torah is lovingly surrounded with dancing, while children carry flags garnished with apples at the end of sticks.

 

XV. Yeshua begins His Ministry

 

Yeshua began His ministry on the anniversary of His brit, His circumcision (Read about when He was born at: BIRTH.):

 

Luqas (Luke) 3:21-22a When all the people were being baptized, Yeshua was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Now Yeshua himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.

 

His was the Yom HaKippurim immersion (baptism) of repentance. He was immersed on the day before the most solemn day of the year, in preparation for the feast of the Day of Atonement.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:36 For seven days present offerings made to HaShem by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to HaShem by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.

 

Luqas (Luke) 2:21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

 

Yeshua was circumcised on the Feast of Conclusion!

 

Yochanan (John) 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

4637 skenoo, skay-no’-o; from 4636; to tent or encamp, i.e. (fig.) to occupy (as a mansion) or (spec.) to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol of protection and communion):-dwell.

-------------------- Dictionary Trace ------------------

4636 skenos, skay’-nos; from 4633; a hut or temporary residence, i.e. (fig.) the human body (as the abode of the spirit):-tabernacle.

 

Isn’t it curious that our Mashiach was incarnate into a temporary body into a temporary dwelling (manger, cave, whatever).

 

Luqas (Luke) 2:4-7 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

5336 phatne, fat’-nay; from pateomai (to eat); a crib (for fodder):-manger, stall.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month HaShem’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.

 

5521 cukkah, sook-kaw’; fem. of 5520; a hut or lair:-booth, cottage, covert, pavilion, tabernacle, tent.

------------------- Dictionary Trace --------------------

5520 cok, soke; from 5526; a hut (as of entwined boughs); also a lair:- covert, den, pavilion, tabernacle.

 

XVI. Bi-modal aspects

 

In this section I would like to show that the spring festival of Passover shares many connections with the seven day festival in the fal called Succoth. The following chart shows some of the connections:

 

 

 



Tekufah of Nisan (Vernal Equinox) Nisan – The First Month Ripening of grain

1

 

New Year for counting months.

 

The pur is cast.

 

The Mishkan and Temple start operating.

10

 

Sacrifice (Passover lamb) is selected.

 

Israelites enter the promised land.

 

Abraham and household are circumcised

 

Physical freedom begins.

 

Judgment of the firstborn.

 

Shabbat HaGadol – the Great Sabbath. We examine a lamb for blemishes.

14-15

 

Festival Sabbath

 

HaShem’s people enter protective abode.

 

Passover Seder.

 

Messiah dies.

 

Israel must eat matza.

 

Lulav is burned with bedikat chametz

16

17

18

 

Read Shir HaShirim and Shemot 33:12 – 34:26 on the weekly Sabbath during Pesach

 

 

19

20

21

 

Festival Sabbath

 

We read the judgement of Egypt at the Yam Suf.

 

 

Iyar 18

 

Lag B’Omer

Sivan 6

 

Festival Sabbath

 

Shavuot  Atzeret

 

Torah was given

Large loaves waved.

 

Pilgrimage festival.

 

Read the book of Ruth

 

No distinctive practice for the people.

Passover

 

Feast of Matza – the bread of affliction.

 

Israelites begin living in Succoth while traveling.

 

Pilgrimage festival.

 

First harvest (barley). Barley is waved.

 

Israel may eat only unleavened bread.

Tekufah of Tishri (Autumn Equinox) Tishri – The Seventh Month Ripening of grapes and olives

1-2

 

Festival Sabbath

 

Yom Teruah.

 

New Year for counting years.

 

Judgment day.

 

Messiah, our Temple, comes!

10

 

Festival Sabbath

 

Yom HaKippurim

 

Sacrifice is (two goats) selected.

 

We return to the state we enjoyed in Eden.

 

Adam was circumcised when created.

 

Total Jubilee freedom begins.

 

Neilah – judgment complete.

 

On The Sabbath before Yom HaKippurim Shabbat Shuvah ("Sabbath of Repentance")

15

 

Festival Sabbath

 

HaShem’s people enter protective abode.

 

Messiah is born.

 

Israel must live in Succah

16

17

18

 

Read the book of Kohelet and Shemot 33:12 – 34:26 on the weekly Sabbath during Succoth.

19

20

21

 

Hoshana Rabbah – The final judgement.

 

 

 

22

 

Festival Sabbath

 

Shemini Atzeret

 

Simchat Torah

Reading of Torah is concluded and started again.

 

Torah scrolls are waved.

 

No distinctive practice.

Succoth

The feast of our JOY!

 

HaShem’s people live in Succoth for seven days at rest.

 

It is a mitzvah to feast in the Succah.

 

Pilgrimage festival.

 

Final harvest. Lulav and etrog are waved.

 

The world is judged for water

 

Israel must eat all of their meals in the Succah.

 

 



The Talmud provides some insights on the connection between Pesach and Succoth:

 

Succah 27a "... It is stated here (in the Parasha of succah) 'chamisha asar' (the fifteenth day of the month) and it is stated 'chamisha asar' in [the Parasha of] Pesach. Just as there [on Pesach], the first night is obligatory and the rest are non-obligatory, so too here [on Succoth], the first night is obligatory and the rest are non-obligatory."

 

The Ran[46] summarizes two prevalent views found among the Rishonim as to the exact obligation derived from Pesach:

 

to eat a minimum measure of bread in the succah on the first night; to do so even in the event of rain.

 

The Sages derive that one must eat in the Succah on the first night through a gezerah shavvah, a textual comparison between the first night of Pesach, which occurs on the fifteenth of Nissan and upon which one is obligated to eat matza, and the first night of Succoth, which is celebrated on the fifteenth of Tishrei.

 

What do we learn from this comparison to the first night of Pesach? We might suggest that just as one must fulfill the mitzva of matza – that is, eating matza, on the first night of the seven days of Pesach, one similarly must fulfill the mitzva of Succah, dwelling in a Succah, on the first night of the seven days of Succoth. Alternatively, the gemara may be deriving something much more specific: Just as one must fulfill a mitzva of “eating on the first night of Pesach, so too one must fulfill a mitzva of “eating” on the first night of Succoth. This second possibility is most intriguing. On the one hand, this obligation to eat may redefine the parameters of one’s obligation to dwell in the Succah on the first night, and, on the other hand, may even dictate that some of the laws that pertain to eating matza on the first night of Pesach must be observed on Succoth as well. The distinction between these readings of the gemara has a number of halakhic ramifications.

 

For example, the Ran (12b, s.v. matnitin) questions how much bread one must eat in the Succah on the first night of Succoth. He writes:

 

And regarding the first day of the festival of Succoth, we also learn that one is obligated to eat an amount that obligates eating in the Succah. For based on the law of Yom Tov, it would suffice to eat the quantity of an egg in a haphazard manner (arai) outside the Succah. And we learn also from the festival of Pesach that one is obligated to eat an amount that obligates eating in the Succah. It seems, therefore, that one is obligated to eat more than the amount of an egg.

 

Generally, as we shall learn, only one who eats an amount slightly more than a ke-beitza (the volume of an egg) must eat in the Succah. The Ran suggests that the gezerah  shavva teaches that one must fulfill the mitzva of Succahon the first evening. Therefore, one must eat an amount which obligates him to eat in the Succah -- more than a ke-beitza. The Ran then writes:

 

But there are those who say as follows: Since we learn from the festival of Pesach, we learn entirely from it. Just as in that case the size of an olive [is all that is necessary for fulfilling the mitzva], so too here the size of an olive [is all that is required]. And even though on the other days of the festival [of Succoth] the size of an olive is regarded as haphazard [eating], and it may be eaten outside a Succah, nevertheless on the first night, since Scripture established it as an obligation to eat in the Succah, it is regarded as a regular meal.

 

The Ran cites those who believe that one must only eat an amount equivalent to the size of a kezayit, an olive, in the Succah on the first night, similar to the amount of matza that one must eat on Pesach. He implies, however, that this gezerah  shavva may also redefine the parameters of dwelling in the Succah on the first night.

 

Indeed, the Tur[47] explains that just as one must only eat a kezayit of bread in the Succah on the first night, one may not eat a kezayit of bread outside of the Succah.

 

Once he eats in [the Succah] grain in the amount of an olive, he has fulfilled his obligation, even though the measure regarding [the prohibition] of eating outside a Succah is the amount of an egg. The first night is different, because the obligation is greater, so that even if he wishes to eat only the amount of an olive, he is forbidden to do so outside the Succah. Therefore, he fulfills there with also the obligation of Succah.

 

The Tur understands that not only is the mitzva the first night, fundamentally, a mitzva of “akhila” (eating), but that this itself defines eating a kezayit of bread as an akhilat keva, which must not be done outside of the Succah.

 

Interestingly, the Ritva,[48] after citing the view obligating one to eat a kezayit of bread in the Succah on the first night, records the following:

 

However, I heard in the name of one of the great scholars of the generation in France, who would obligate one to sleep in the Succah on the first night of Succoth, even in the rain… as on the first night, the Scripture established that it is obligatory, from the gezerah shavvah equated the fifteenth [of Nissan to the] fifteenth, from Chag Ha-Matzot.

 

Clearly, this stringency implies that the Torah mandated “dwelling” in one’s Succah on the first night, and that the exemption of “falling rain” does not apply.

 

In addition, the Yerushalmi[49] questions whether, just as one should refrain from eating on the day before Pesach in order to fulfill the mitzva of matza when one is hungry, one should similarly not eat on the day before Succoth so that one enter the festival while he is hungry. Tosafot[50] and the Rosh[51] cite this Yerushalmi, and the Or Zarua[52] writes that one should act accordingly. The Maharil adds that one should not eat from the sixth hour onwards on Erev Succoth, similar to Erev Pesach. The Leket Yosher relates that his teacher, the Terumat Ha-Deshen, would not even sleep in the Succah on Erev Succoth in order to ensure that he still desired sleeping in the Succah that evening!

 

R. Moshe Isserlis, in his commentary to the Tur, the Darkhei Moshe, cites the Maharil, and writes, “This seems to me to be a stringency without reason.” In his comments to the Shluchan Arukh,[53] however, he writes that one should not eat during the day before Succoth from noon onwards. Some Acharonim[54] rule that one need only refrain from eating bread from the tenth hour onwards. The Mishnah Berurah[55] writes that the Acharonim concur that one need only refrain from eating from the tenth hour onwards, as we learn regarding hilkhot Pesach.[56]  

 

* * *

 

Passover and Succoth parallel each other in several ways. For example, they are exactly six months apart, they always occur on the 15th of their respective months, and both commemorate the exodus from Egypt and its aftermath. In fact, they are the only two festivals to which the Torah refers to as "chag",[57] or festival.

 

* * *

 

While the Shulchan Aruch notes that 30 days before Pesach we inquire and expound about the festival, the building of the Succah is actually the last law recorded of the laws of Yom Kippur. Only after Yom Kippur is over do we begin building our Succah, four days before Succoth. Thus we understand that we begin building the succah immediately after Yom Kippur – on the tenth of Tishri, before we break the fast. Similarly, we select the Pesach lamb on the tenth day of Nisan, four days before Pesach.

 

* * *

 

With Pesach rooted in our past, the Torah commands us to “remember” Pesach; but regarding Succoth, our future generations must “know” the holiday. It is knowledge that gives us the power and ability to mold our future

 

* * *

 

Another, interesting concept for further exploration, given the bipolarity of the Torah, is the relationship between Shabbat HaGadol ("The Great Sabbath") in Nisan as immediately preceding Pesach, and Shabbat Shuvah ("Sabbath of Repentance") in Tishri as immediately preceding Yom HaKippurim. It looks to me that there are a number of commonalities as well as basic distinctions between these two particular Shabbats. However, it appears that the major themes presented on these two Shabbats are intertwined. Chiefly, this Shabbat appears in the midst of physical cleansing of our homes, whilst Shabbat Shuvah appears in the midst of spiritual cleansing in our lives. However, the topic of "cleansing" and "preparation" for the festival permeates both Shabbats.

 

Rosh Chodesh (the new moon – the first day of) Elul, begins a forty day period of Teshuva, repentance. On Purim, Adar 14/15, we begin a time a repentance. The word “Yom HaKippurim” can be separated as: Yom Ha Ki Purim, which means “a day like Purim”. Even as the Jews began fasting, and repenting just before Passover, so do we repent in preparation for Passover in a manner similar to the repentance before Tishri.

 

In the Talmud, Shemini Atzeret is called Atzeret shel Hag, the Atzeret of Succoth, as opposed to Shavuot which is called Atzeret without a qualifier (Menachoth 65a). In fact, the Midrash (Shir HaShirim 7:2) takes the effort to explain why Shemini Atzeret isn't 50 days after Succoth, why it differs from Shavuot:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) VII:4 Another explanation: HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THY FOOTSTEPS IN SANDALS (NE ‘ALIM): in two closings (ne'alim).[58] R. Hana b. Hanina said: It is as if two traders went into a town together, and one of them said to the other: ' If we both offer our wares together in the town, we will bring down the price. So do you offer yours one week, and I will offer mine the next.’ R. Hananiah the son of R. Ibi said: It is written here, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THY FOOTSTEPS not in the sandal, but IN SANDALS. There are two closings: the closing of Passover and the closing of Tabernacles. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel: ‘You close before Me at Tabernacles, and I close before you at Passover. You close your work before Me at Tabernacles,[59] and I open the heavens and cause winds to blow and bring up clouds and make rain fall and cause the sun to shine and make plants grow and ripen produce, and provide each one of you with a table set out with his needs, and each body according to its requirements. And I close [the heavens] before you at Passover,[60] and you go out and reap and thresh and winnow and do all that is required in the field and find it rich in blessing.’ R. Yahoshua (Joshua) b. Levi said: By rights, the Eighth Day of Assembly should have followed Tabernacles after an interval of fifty days, as Pentecost follows Passover. But since at the Eighth Day of Assembly summer passes into autumn, the time is not suitable for traveling. [God was like] a king who had several married daughters, some living near by, while others were a long way away. One day they all came to visit their father the king. Said the king: 'Those who are living near by are able to travel at any time. But those who live at a distance are not able to travel at any time. So while they are all here with me, let us make one feast for all of them and rejoice with them.’ So with regard to Pentecost, which comes when winter is passing into summer, God says, ‘The season is fit for traveling.’ But the Eighth day of Assembly comes when summer is passing into autumn, and the roads are dusty and hard for walking; hence it is not separated by an interval of fifty days. Said the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘These are not days for traveling; so while they are here, let us make of all of them one festival and rejoice.’ Therefore Moses admonishes Israel, saying to them, On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly (Num. XXIX, 35). Thus we may say, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THY FOOTSTEPS IN NE’ ALIM.

 

Passover and Succoth both have a second chance to be celebrated.

 

Iyar 15 is known as Pesach Sheni, the second Passover. This celebration is for those who were unclean, or on a trip, during Passover.

 

Succoth’s “second chance” is called Chanukah. The Israelites were too busy fighting the Syrians to stop for Succoth. They missed the celebration so much, that they celebrated it when they were through fighting: Kislev 25 – Tevet 2.

 

XVII. Pagan Feasts

 

Lets explore the origins of Christmas and Easter. We will start with Christmas:

 

The Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all celebrated a pagan festival at the time of the winter solstice (the “Brumalia” of the Romans, and “Saturnalia” of the Greeks on December 25th), with their traditional trees, commemorating Nimrod’s “resurrection”. Yule logs, orbs and bulbs symbolizing eggs, and sexual reproduction, and especially the mistletoe, which was an important feature of Druidism.

 

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica; Mashiachmas was first established as a feast in the fourth century. In the fifth century the western church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol. Among the German and Celtic tribes the winter solstice was considered an important point of the year, and they held their chief festival of Yule to commemorate the return of the burning wheel. The holly, the mistletoe, the yule log and the wassail bowl are relics of a pre- Christian era.

 

The Christmas tree, now so common among us, was equally common in Pagan Rome and Pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was a palm tree; in Rome it was the fir tree; the palm tree denoting the Pagan Messiah, as Baal-Tamar, the fir referring to him as Ball-Berith. The mother of Adonis, the Sun-God and great mediatorial divinity, was mystically said to have been changed into a tree, and when in that state to have brought forth her divine son.[61] If the mother was a tree, the son must have been recognized as the “Man of the Branch”. And this entirely accounts for the putting of the Yule Log into the fire on Christmas eve, and the appearance of the Christmas tree the next morning.[62]

 

The Christmas tree can also be found in scripture:

 

Yirimiyah (Jeremiah) 10:3-5 For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”

 

The 25th of December, the day that was observed at Rome as the day when the victorious god, Baal-Berith, reappeared on earth, was held at the Natalis invictisolis, “The birthday of the unconquered Sun.” Now the Yule Log is the dead stock of Nimrod, deified as the sun-god, but cut down by his enemies; the Christmas tree is Nimrod redivivus - the slain god come to life again.3

 

The mistletoe bough, in Druidic superstition, was derived from Babylon, and was a representation of Messiah, “The man the branch”. The mistletoe was regarded as a divine branch - a branch that came down from heaven, and grew upon a tree that sprang out of the earth. Thus by the engrafting of the celestial branch into the earthly tree, heaven and earth, that sin had severed, were joined together, and thus the mistletoe bough became the token of Divine reconciliation to man, the kiss being the well known token of pardon and reconciliation.3

 

Now, lets examine the origins of Easter:

 

The Encyclopedia Brittanica indicates that the date for Easter was changed by Constantine the Great in 325 A.D.. He summoned the famous council of Nicaea. It was decided that Easter must be celebrated everywhere on the same day and this day must be Sunday. It must be the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox, March 21, with one reservation. If the full moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after. The reason for this exception reveals the depth of the division between the Church and the Synagogue. For whenever the full moon fell on Sunday, Easter would be celebrated on the same day as the Passover. Hence, the postponement for a week, to avoid the coincidence.

 

Ashtoreth was the “queen of heaven” in:

 

Yirimiyah (Jeremiah) 7:16-20 “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger. But am I the one they are provoking? declares HaShem. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame? “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign HaShem says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched.

 

Yirimiyah (Jeremiah) 44:15-30 Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present--a large assembly--and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Yirimiyah (Jeremiah), “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of HaShem! We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” The women added, “When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes like her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, who were answering him, “Did not HaShem remember and think about the incense burned in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem by you and your fathers, your kings and your officials and the people of the land? When HaShem could no longer endure your wicked actions and the detestable things you did, your land became an object of cursing and a desolate waste without inhabitants, as it is today. Because you have burned incense and have sinned against HaShem and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you, as you now see.” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, “Hear the word of HaShem, all you people of Judah in Egypt. This is what HaShem Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have shown by your actions what you promised when you said, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’ “Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! But hear the word of HaShem, all Jews living in Egypt: ‘I swear by my great name,’ says HaShem, ‘that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, “As surely as the Sovereign HaShem lives.” For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand--mine or theirs. “‘This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place,’ declares HaShem, ‘so that you will know that my threats of harm against you will surely stand.’ This is what HaShem says: ‘I am going to hand Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt over to his enemies who seek his life, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who was seeking his life.’”

 

The cakes they made contained a symbol of the sun, formed by an X, like the solar wheel worshipped by Constantine. Among the Teutons of medieval times, these cakes were called “bous” or “boun” for “bull”. The word “boun” is the origin of our English word for “bun” and is seen today in “hot-cross buns”. These “bun” are baked and eaten in the day of Ishtar (pronounced Easter today, as then), in honor of the queen of heaven whose symbols were fecundity and sexuality like rabbits, eggs, and the lily.

 

* * *

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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[1] The seventh Biblical month roughly corresponds to the September October timeframe in the Gregorian calendar.

[2] Also known as Yom Kippur.

[3] Ashkenaz = Succos

[4] The etrog is a citrus fruit which resembles a large lemon.

[5] The lulav is a three part ‘sword’ made up of a palm frond that is still closed, three myrtle branches, and two willow branches. These three are bound together with woven palm leaf holder.

[6] Biblical festivals always begin at sundown and end twenty five hours later.

[7] “Eretz Israel” means The Land of Israel.

[8] See also II Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 7:9, 1 Melachim (Kings) 8:66, and Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:35.

[9] Outside of Israel the first two days and the eighth and ninth days are celebrated as sabbaths where we refrain from working.

[10] Mitzvot, the plural of mitzva, are the commanded actions given in the Torah by HaShem. These are the ‘good deeds’ that one performs in order to draw near to HaShem.

[11] Today, when are Temple is gone, we circle the bima, an elevated platform where the Torah is read, in the synagogue.

[12] Strive for Truth, Rabbi Eliyahu E. Dessler, Michtav Me’Eliyahu, selected writings of Rabbi E.E. Dessler rendered into English and annotated by Aryeh Carmell.

[13] Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:13.

[14] Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:42.

[15] See parashat Shoftim, end.

[16] Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:14.

[17] Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:40.

[18] Mo’ed Katan 8b.

[19] Sukka 51a.

[20] Bereshit Rabba 70:8.

[21] Yerushalmi Sukka 5:1.

[22] Ibid. 2

[23] Avodat HaShem means our ‘service or worship of HaShem’.

[24] `The Complete ARTSCROLL MACHZOR - SUCCOS’, page 320.

[25] Such a high structure requires firm foundations and walls and these give it the characteristics of a permanent abode.

[26]Shaking the Lulav is not an inseparable part of the mitzva; it is a custom, a hidur (a beautification) and takanah (a decree). If someone takes the Four Species but does not shake them, he has still performed the mitzva.

[27] Succah 5:1

[28] Yeshayahu 12:3

[29] see Succah 4:9

[30] Taanit 2b

[31] Gemara 44a

[32] Succah 4:9

[33] Succah 5:4

[34] Rosh Hashanah 1:2

[35] Succah 5:2

[36] Succah 5:3

[37] Succah 5:3

[38] Excerpted from Shulchan Aruch

[39] Magen Avraham 530 ans Chayei Adam 106:1

[40] Perkei Avot 3:11

[41] Peri Megadim 533:6

[42] Maseches Moed Katan 14b.

[43] Magein Avraham

[44] Ramah

[45] Rema 545:5

[46] Alfas 12b

[47] 639

[48] 27a

[49] Succah 2:7

[50] 27a, s.v. teshvu

[51] 3:15

[52] 301

[53] Rema

[54] Magen Avraham 12; Gra; see also Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav 20

[55] 539:27

[56] 471

[57] Pesach: Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:6 – Succoth Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:34

[58] As explained infra.

[59] Or, you complete your pi1grimages then, Tabernacles being the third and last pilgrimage festival of the year (M.K.).

[60] Rain ceases then (Radal).

[61] Ovid, Metam., lib.x v. 500-513, quoted by Alexander Hislop in “The two Babylons”

[62] “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop.