What Is Sukkot?

Season of Rejoicing

After Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur comes Sukkot! In preparation for this week-long holiday we build a sukkah (small hut) in our backyard, fulfilling the Biblical commandment “You shall live in booths seven days… in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt – I, your God.” (Lev. 23:42-43)

Living in a flimsy temporary structure reminds us of our time wandering in the desert, when for forty years we depended on God for everything and never knew where the next day would take us. One of the lessons of the holiday is that we still depend on God for everything. We may be temporarily occupying our home, but in a larger sense we occupy God’s world, and only He is permanent and eternal. Sukkot also teaches empathy for those not fortunate enough to have a home. During the holiday we spend as much time in the sukkah as possible. At the minimum, we must eat all our meals there. Some people have the custom of sleeping in the sukkah.

Spiritually speaking, the sukkah represents the new selves we prayed for during the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We’ve acknowledged our faults, resolved to do better, and now we’re nurturing these nascent selves into the rest of our lives, one day at a time, with God’s help. Sukkot is known as the “season of our rejoicing.” May your holiday be filled with blessings and joy!

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