gratefully acknowledge Beth
Adonai for allowing us to use this material
After Yom Kippur, preparations
begin for Sukkot.
Sukkot falls 5 days after Yom Kippur and is closely associated more with Passover and Shavuot.
is the last of the seven G-d ordained feasts.
Sukkot occurs on the last seven days of the seventh month and
scripture commands us to observe it seven times.
Seven is the number of perfection or completion as seen in Genesis
2:2 when Adonai’s work was completed in seven days. The number
seven plays special significance in this, the final fall feast.
is first mentioned in scripture as the first stopping
place of the Israelites on their journey out of Egypt in the Exodus.
went on to Sukkot, where he built himself a house and put up
shelters for his cattle. This
is why the place is called Sukkot [shelters].”
word "sukkot" actually means "woven".
These shelters (booths) were woven together from branches
and leaves to protect the animals from the sun, so sukkot later
came to mean the hut or booth with the "woven" roof.
Since we are commanded to build a hut or booth on this
holiday as a reminder of G-d's sheltering care for us, this feast
is called "Sukkot".
are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Israel is
to live in sukkah, so that generation after generation of you will
know that I made the people of Israel live in sukkot when I
brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God.”
physically reenact the building of these flimsy shelters to remind
us of the time spent in the wilderness when we were totally
dependent on God for everything.
According to the law of nature, the nation should have
perished due to their lack of food, water, no road map, no mall to
buy new clothes and shoes when they wore out in forty years.
The Lord met each need in abundance, so we celebrate this
holiday to remember His faithfulness and our dependence on Him.
The sukkah was purposely made flimsy and constructed
outside. It should be
made so that the stars can be seen through the roof and rain can
fall in. This is to
show our dependence on G-d
as our protector and provider, and not some wood or brick
building. When we are
outside, we are closer to nature and it is easier to physically
see how G-d is so obviously in charge of things.
It also makes us aware of how fragile human life is. We get
another lesson in trusting G-d as our protector and provider.
Most Jews today just visit a sukkah, or at best, eat a meal
in one. Remember that
G-d has commanded us to actually dwell
in a sukkah for seven days! Try
it - it can be like camping out in your own backyard!
the sukkah is to be primitive and flimsy, it may also be a thing
of beauty. We are
commanded to do three things for the sukkah - live in it, gather
lulav and etrog, and enjoy the feast!
Part of the enjoyment is to engage the whole family in
building and decorating the sukkah.
Children can participate so that they too may know of
God’s provision. If
they are too young to actually put the sukkah together they can
make decorations suchas paper chains or drawings to put up once it
is constructed. If
there is no space to make one outside, the family can make a
miniature sukkah out of twigs and leaves on a tabletop.
is celebrated at this time of year because it is associated with
the ancient Israeli cycle of agriculture.
Fall was the time of the final harvest when the abundance
of the fields was gathered in thankfulness.
A reference to this is mentioned in Isaiah
1:8 where there were temporary huts, or "sukkot",
for the harvesters in the vineyard.
They were occupied by the watchmen in the fields who
protected the ripe harvest before it could be gathered.
Days of the Feast
Tishrei 15: 1st day, Sabbath rest
Tishrei 16: 2nd day, enjoy the festival
Tishrei 17: 3rd day, Chol HaMoed (1st intermediate day)
Tishrei 18: 4th day, Chol HaMoed (2nd intermediate day)
Tishrei 19: 5th day, Chol HaMoed (3rd intermediate day)
Tishrei 20: 6th day, Chol HaMoed (4th intermediate day)
Tishrei 21: 7th day, Hoshanah Rabbah ("the great
Tishrei 22: 8th day, Shimini Atzaret ("solemn
assembly", a Sabbath rest)
Tishrei 23: 9th day, Simchat Torah ("rejoicing in the
in the Sukkah
a sukkah can also has spiritual meaning for believers:
The world and its material things are a spiritual desert or
even a wilderness. We
would wither without Messiah’s intervention on our behalf.
Without His presence, power, and provision, we would be
left naked, destitute, and in darkness.
in your presence we are temporary residents, just passing through,
as all our ancestors were
our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.”
verse should cause us to reflect on how much we rely on flimsy
things, the temporary trappings of the world that have no eternal
value. Spending time
out in the sukkah and remembering what God did for the nation of
Israel as He led them to a better place reinforces our faith that
God will keep His promise to us.
This promise is that He will guide us to our permanent home
promised in heaven.
know that when the tent which houses us here on earth is torn
down, we have a permanent
building from God, a building not made by human hands, to house us
only temporary, the sukkah experience is to be enjoyable.
Rabbis have said that you are not to eat your meal in the
sukkah if it is raining. This
would take away some of the joy of this feast, one we are actually
commanded to enjoy:
days you are to keep the festival for Adonai your God in the place
Adonai your God will
choose, because Adonai your God will bless you in all your crops
and in all your work, so you
are to be
full of joy!”
rabbis have given another name to this feast which is “Zeman
Simchateinu” or “season of our joy.” The rejoicing should
not just be for God’s provision of our daily bread, but also for
our spiritual food. This
is why Sukkot is so closely tied with the High Holidays.
theme from Rosh Hashanah is repentance and a turning to God.
Then we are to examine our relationship with Him in the ten
Days of Awe. This
leads us to experience His redemption on Yom Kippur, realizing
that we have our atonement through Yeshua.
It naturally follows that we can now rejoice in God’s
forgiveness during Sukkot.
Names, Same Feast
we can see how we get the different names associated with Sukkot:
"Chag HaSukkot": Festival of Booths (Leviticus
"Chag Ha’Asif": Festval of Ingathering (Exodus
"Zeman Simchateinu": Season of Our Rejiocing (Deuteronomy
"Chag": The Feast (Leviticus
"Hoshanah Rabbah": The Great Hoshanah (the
seventh day of the feast)
"Shimini Atzeret": Solemn Assembly (the eighth
day of the feast)
"Simchat Torah": Rejoicing in the Law (the ninth
day of the feast, or the second day of Shimini Atzeret, often
considered a separate holiday)
Sukkot is also known as the “Feast of the Lord” or simply
“The Feast.” In
Hebrew, the word feast is “hag” and its root means to “to
dance” or “to be joyous” before the Lord.
This feast was the biggest ceremony in Bible times.
The name “The Feast
of the Ingathering.” has dual meanings.
As the final agricultural harvest the crops were gathered
in. It is also an
“ingathering” because Sukkot is one of the three feasts where
all men are required to appear before God in Jerusalem.
times a year all your men must appear before the LORD 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 the LORD empty-handed:"
last part of the verse mentions that the people are not to come
empty handed before the Lord.
Indeed, they were not empty handed for Sukkot!
No other feast required so many sacrifices as spelled out
in detail in Numbers
29:12-39. It is
also interesting to note how many times the number seven
is used - seven days, seventy bullocks, fourteen rams,
ninety-eight lambs; they are all divisible by seven. Altogether,
there were 182 animals mentioned (which is 26 x 7).
Added to this was the 336 tenths ephahsof flour for the
meal offering (which is 48 x 7). It
is like the number seven, symbolizing completion, is imprinted on
this, the seventh feast in the seventh month.
Does this idea of "completion" symbolize
something else for us?
the idea of “ingathering” signifies the presentation of crops
before the Lord and the gathering of Israelites to Jerusalem,
believer’s can also see it to mean the “ingathering”
of Yeshua’s children. Yeshua
says to those who believe in Him:
my Father’s house there are many places to live.
If there weren’t, I would have told you;
because I am going there to prepare a place for you.
Since I am going and preparing a place for
you, I will
return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be
spirit of thankfulness was especially true at the time of Sukkot
in ancient Israel. Their
economy was mostly agricultural, so the people
relied heavily on the cycle of crops for their sustenance.
These crops were dependent on rain that was very scarce in
the arid Middle East. As
is true today, farmers must have great faith, depending on G-d for
the moisture necessary to avoid famine.
the time of Yeshua, the high point of the Succot celebration was
the "drawing of water"
ceremony when the people called upon the Lord to provide heavenly
waters for their next harvest season.
This was a very grand event that was full of much pomp and
drama. It reached its
peak on the last day of Succot called "Hoshannah Rabbah".
Accompanied by throngs of chanting worshippers and
flutists, the Levitical preists went to the pool of Siloam near
the temple mount. There
he filled a golden pitcher with water and returned to the temple.
The crowd entered through the Water Gate that was named for
this ceremony. The
choir and the worshippers began chanting the words of Psalm
118 called the "Hallel", or praise pslam.
(as in "Beth Hallel",
house of praise)
LORD, save us; O
LORD, grant us success.
is he who comes in the name of the LORD. (in Hebrew:
"boruch ha ba b'shem Adonoi")
the house of the LORD we bless you.
expressed the messianic hope of the people at that time, oppressed
by their Roman overseers. It
was very appropriate that Yeshua appeared on the scene, with the
multitudes chanting "Please deliver us, Son of David!"
as they laid the palm branches associated with Sukkot in His path:
A very large
crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches
from the trees and spread
them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
"Hosanna in the highest!"
ceremony also held a deep spiritual significance.
Water is a symbol of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit.
The people were aware of this as they gathered to pray for
the fall rains. The
prophet Joel spoke of the Lord pouring down the latter rains:
glad, O people of Zion, rejoice
in the LORD your God,
has given you the autumn
rains in righteousness.
sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as
In Joel the connection is made between these rains and the Spirit:
will pour out my Spirit on all people.
sons and daughters will prophesy, your
old men will dream dreams,
young men will see visions.
Talmud, refering to this water ceremony at Sukkot asks: "Why
is the name of it called the drawing out of water?
It is because of the pouring out of the Ruach HaKodesh
according to what is said...(referring to Isaiah:)
you will joyfully draw from the springs of salvation.”
is the name given to our Messiah,
for "salvation" in Hebrew is Yeshua!
Illumination of the Temple
the water ceremony, there was the ceremony of the “illumination
of the temple.” This
is where four enormous golden candelabras were lit. This was a
terrific spectacle that has been noted in Rabbinical commentaries.
The Mishna says that pious worshippers would rejoice and
dance well into the night holding torches and singing songs of
praise. It is said
that the light from these candelabras on the Temple Mount could be
seen for miles!
is no coincidence that on this last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabba,
with the themes of light and water on the minds of the multitudes,
that Yeshua came to the Temple to proclaim a message that offered
better water and light that would totally satisfy the needs of the
on the last day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and
cried out, “If anyone is thirsty,
let him keep coming to me and drinking!
Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture
says, rivers of living
water will flow from his inmost being!" Yehsua
struck a chord with the people who knew the scripture He was
I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry
ground; I will our my Spirit on your descendants, my blessing on
your offspring.” As
bright as the lights were during this joyous occasion, Yeshua
proclaimed an even brighter light for all:
spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world; whoever
follows me will never walk
in darkness but will have the light
which gives life.”
offered life and redemption to all the pilgrims at Sukkot.
He was announcing the coming of the messianic age.
describes the return of the Lord when He will stand on the
Mount of Olives. God
will personally deliver his people:
that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of
he describes the unique light also present in those days and the
Living Waters flowing out of Jerusalem:
It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime--a
day known to the LORD. 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
are not just natural waters, but spiritual waters of salvation.
The multitude could continue to rejoice because of what
followed in Zechariah:
everyone remaining from all the nations that came to attack
Yerushalayim will go up every
year to worship the King, the Lord, and to keep the festival of
a great messianic prophecy! Yeshua
came to the masses on the last day of Sukkot and proclaimed that
there was a way for them to be cleansed of their sin so that they
no longer needed to atone for them year after year as they had
just done on Yom Kippur. He
was pointing to a time that Ezekiel had prophesied about:
sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse
you from all your impurities
and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I
will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of
flesh. And I will put
my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful
to keep my laws."
feast is the most joyous of Israel’s feast.
It came at a time when the crops had been reaped and the
people’s heats had been naturally gladdened by the bounty.
As they presented themselves in Jerusalem, they recalled
when they were gathered there six months earlier, when they had
dedicated their entire feast to the Lord during
First Fruits. At
that time they remembered the Exodus from Egypt and the Passover
with its fulfillment of the true Passover sacrifice, the perfect
Lamb of God - Yeshua. Then
they would recall that seven weeks after that they gathered again
for the grain harvest, or Shavuot.
This was remembered as the time when the Law was given on
Mount Sinai. It also
points to the time when the Holy Spirit fulfilled this feast by
writing the Law on their hearts at Pentecost.
Now, gathering for Sukkot, the people remembered G-d’s
provision in the wilderness when they had dwelled in booths.
The fulfillment of this feast will be the harvest of the
nations when they will all be gathered to worship the Lord when He
returns to reign in Jerusalem:
heard a loud voice from the throne say, “See! G-d’s
Sh’Khinah (G-d's presence) is with mankind, and he will live
with them. They will
be his peoples and he himself, G-d-with-them, will be their G-d.”
is a very good reason for rejoicing at Sukkot - especially for
Hashanah’s theme is to turn the nation of Israel to repentance
with the sound of the shofar.
Prophetically this will signal Messiah’s return. Yom
Kippur’s theme is the redemption and forgiveness through the
atonement of Yeshua. One
day all of Israel will recognize Him as Lord.
On Sukkot, we rejoice in the Lord’s gathering of His
people to tabernacle
with Him. Then they
"sealed in the book of life.”
points to a future Sukkot:
this, I looked; and there before me was a huge crowd, too large
for anyone to count, from every nation, tribe and language.
They were standing in front of the throne and in front of
the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palm
branches in their hands; and they shouted, ‘Salvation
belongs to our G-d, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”
as common as the sukkah are the "four species", or
"lulav" and "etrog" ritual items derived from
an interpretation of materials mentioned in Torah:
the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick
branches and river-willows, and celebrate in the presence of
Adonai your G-d for seven days.”
believe that this verse describes the actual materials to be used
in making a sukkah, but rabbis have come to agree that these
materials are to be bound together and waved in rejoicing during
the festival. This is
where we get the "lulav" and the "etrog".
is Aramaic for “that which shines.”
Over time, it has come to mean a citrus fruit.
Rabbis say that this fruit is implied by the phrase
“foliage on goodly trees”
where “goodly” meant both, the taste of the wood of the
tree, and the trees fruit. Only
the citron fulfills these requirements.
Another way to understand the etrog is by using the
numerical values of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
The number values in the phrase “fruit of goodly trees”
matches the number values in “etrogim” (plural for etrog).
originally meant sprout, but has come to mean willow, myrtle, and
palm branches. Myrtle
was chosen because of the phrase “boughs of leafy trees.”
There are various explanations for the four species
that have been chosen.
Each of the four species refers to a specific place on a
persons body where he/she can serve G-d.
The etrog represents the heart,
a place of understanding and wisdom.
The palm represents the backbone and one’s uprightness.
The myrtle represents the eyes that give us enlightenment.
The willow represents the lips and our prayers to G-d.
the lulav and the etrog are used in the synagogue each day during
Sukkot. The etrog is
placed in one’s left hand and the lulav (myrtle, willow, and
palm branches bound together) are in the right hand and are to be
waved in the direction of the four compass points during certain
times of the Sukkot service.
traditions include inviting symbolic guests, or "ushpizim"
to visit the sukkah. These
are Bible patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses, etc.
The idea is to recall those who went before us who were
wanderers, those who depended on G-d's shelter and provision.
We can turn this tradition into a time to teach our living
guests about these Bible characters.
This is a time to show hospitality by inviting others to
share a meal under the sukkah.
This would be especially appropriate to offer to anyone who
does not have a sukkah of their own.
is also traditional to recite the Hoshanah Psalm while circling
around the synagogue. Some
have turned this into a joyous celebration by including dancers,
musicians and others waving the lulav and etrog in a loud
The Megillah, or short scroll associated with this feast is the Book
of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). Its
soul searching, somewhat dark, contemplative nature, more
associated with Yom Kippur, is said to balance the joyous note of
Sukkot. It is traditionally
read on the last day of the feast.
tradition of Moroccan Jews is to pour water on each other, perhaps
a reminder of the pouring-out-of-water ceremony during Temple
times. What a great
idea for our warm fall
course the biggest tradition is the building of the sukkah.
Traditionally, the first branches of the sukkah are lashed
together just after the Yom Kippur break-fast.
Each family can build one, or it may be a communal project,
involving the whole synagogue.
In addition, a small sukkah can be put together completely
best choice in materials are natural branches or other organic items such as bamboo. Some
people use branches from Magnolia trees that have a fragrance to
encourage people to stay in the sukkah.
If possible, the items should be secured with rope or twine
verses nails, again to emphasize the structure's temporary nature.
However, make sure your sukkah doesn't come crashing down
on a table-full of guests! A
string of outdoor lanterns, a rug, hay bales, or potted plants
will make the sukkah inviting.
types of natural items can be suspended from the "skhakh",
or roof of the sukkah. Apples
and pears are easily tied by the stem, and will keep for the
length of the feast. Some use the seven fruits of harvest
mentioned in Deuteronomy
8:8, such as wheat, barely, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives,
and honeycomb. This is another symbol of G-d's rich blessing of
provision for us.