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All about Sukkot, the Feast of Booths

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Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning "booths" or "huts," refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest. It also commemorates the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert after the giving of the Torah atop Mt. Sinai.

Sukkot, or Succot, literally Feast of Booths, is commonly translated to English as Feast of Tabernacles, sometimes also as Feast of the Ingathering. It is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October). During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple it was one of the Three Pilgrimage on which the Israelites were commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple.

Sukkot has a double significance. The one mentioned in the Book of Exodus is agricultural in nature – "Feast of Ingathering at the year's end" (Exodus 34:22) – and marks the end of the harvest time and thus of the agricultural year in the Land of Israel. The more elaborate religious significance from the Book of Leviticus is that of commemorating the Exodus and the dependence of the People of Israel on the will of God (Leviticus 23:42-43).

The holiday lasts seven days in Israel and eight in the diaspora. The first day (and second day in the diaspora) is a Shabbat-like holiday when work is forbidden. This is followed by intermediate days called Chol Hamoed, when certain work is permitted. The festival is closed with another Shabbat-like holiday called Shemini Atzeret (one day in Israel, two days in the diaspora, where the second day is called Simchat Torah). Shemini Atzeret coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside of Israel. 

(The above courtesy of Rabbi Mike Harvey and Wikipedia.)

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