What Is The Meaning Of Sukkot And How Is It Celebrated?

Sukkot means "booths." During the 40 years of wandering in the desert we lived in Sukkot. We are commanded (see Leviticus 23:33-44) on this holiday to make our Sukkah our main dwelling place – to eat, sleep, learn Torah and spend our time there. If one would suffer from being in a Sukkah i.e., from rain or snow, he is freed from the obligation to dwell there. Depending on climatic conditions, people try to at least eat in the Sukkah.

We are also commanded to wave the Arbah Minim, the Four Species, which have many deep and mystical meanings – that the Almighty controls the whole world, the winds, the forces and everything everywhere; that all Jews are bound together as one people, be they saints or sinners, knowledgeable or ignorant.

The Mitzvah of dwelling in the Sukkah teaches us trust in God. We tend to think that our possessions, our money, our homes, our intelligence will protect us. Here we are exposed to the elements in a temporary hut. Living in a Sukkah puts life into perspective. Our history has borne this out. No matter how well-established, wealthy and "secure" we have become in a host country, in the end it too has been a temporary dwelling. Our trust must be in God.

Sukkot is called "zman simchateinu," the time of our joy. Joy is distinct from happiness. Happiness is taking pleasure in what you have. Joy is the pleasure of anticipating a future good. If we trust in God and know that everything that the Almighty does for us is for our good, then we will know great joy in our lives!

Sukkot is one of the Shelosh Regalim, Three Festivals (the other two are Pesach and Shavuot), where the Torah commands everyone living in Israel to leave their homes to come to Jerusalem to celebrate at the Temple. For the last 2,000 years since the destruction of the Temple, we've been unable to fulfill this Mitzvah.

May you and your family have a joyous Sukkot!

Torah Portion of the Week: Ha'azinu

This Shabbat we read a Special Torah Reading for Sukkot (which is also read on the second day of Sukkot), Leviticus 22:26 -23:44 which begins with laws pertaining to the Temple offerings, Korbonot. It then gives an overview of the Jewish Mo'adim, appointed festivals: Shabbat, Pesach and the Omer offering of barley on the second day of Pesach, the counting of the days until Shavuot, the offerings on Shavuot, not to gather the gleanings of the harvest (they are left for the poor), Rosh Hashana and blowing the shofar, Yom Kippur, Succot and its offerings, and the commandment to wave the arba minim, the Four Species: the Lulav, Etrog, Hadasim and Aravot).

Dvar Torah: What Is The Meaning Of The Arbah Minim?

One of the special commandments for Sukkot is to take the arbah minim, the Four Species (Lulav, Etrog, Hadassim, and Aravot), and to wave them in the four directions of the compass as well as up and down. The meaning of the waving is that God is everywhere. However, why are these four species designated for the Mitzvah?

Our rabbis teach that these four species are symbolic of four types of Jews: the Etrog (citron) which has a fragrance and a taste represents those Jews who have both Torah wisdom and good deeds; the Lulav (date palm branch) which has a taste (from the dates), but no fragrance represents those Jews who have Torah wisdom, but no good deeds; the Hadassim (myrtle branches) have a fragrance, but no taste representing those Jews who have good deeds, but no Torah wisdom; and lastly, the Aravot (willow branches) have neither a taste nor a smell representing those Jews who are lacking in Torah wisdom and good deeds.

What do we do on Sukkot? We symbolically bind together and recognize every Jew as an integral and important part of the Jewish people. If even one is missing, the Mitzvah is incomplete. Our people are one; we must do all we can to bind together the Jewish people and work to strengthen the Jewish future!

Something Special For Sukkot!

I have been waiting for a couple of years to share the following obfuscated (I always loved that word!) sayings with you! Now that I have a little room, I can justify it as something to enhance your joy at one of your Sukkot meals! Say the obfuscated saying in its high-falutin English and ask others to "translate" it into its common idiom. For instance, "Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific;" it translates to the more common saying of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star." Enjoy!!

Neophyte's serendipity.
"Beginner's luck."

Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity.
"Beauty is only skin deep."

A revolving lithic conglomerate accumulates no congeries of a small, green byophitic plant.
"A rolling stone gathers no moss."

Eschew the implement of correction and vitiate the scion.
"Spare the rod, and spoil the child."

All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not truly auriferous.
"All that glitters is not gold."

Freedom from incrustations of grime is contiguous to rectitude.
"Cleanliness is next to godliness."

Individuals who make their abode in vitreous edifices would be advised to refrain from catapulting petrous projectiles.
"Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."

Exclusive dedication to necessitous chores without interludes of diversion renders John a habetudinous fellow.
"All work and no play makes John a dull boy."

It is fruitless to become lachrymose over precipitately departed lacteal fluid.
"It doesn't pay crying over spilt milk."

Where there are visible vapors having their prevenience in ignited carbonaceous material, there is conflagration.
"Where there is smoke there is fire."

And lastly, for those who wish to protest the inclusion of these obfuscated sayings, I reply,

"Missiles of ligneous or oterous consistency have the potential of fracturing my osseous structure, but appellations will eternally remain innocuous!" (Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me!)