Sukkot is one of the most joyful festivals on the Jewish calendar. “Sukkot,” a Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “huts,” refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest. The holiday has also come to commemorate the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert after the giving of the Torah atop Mt. Sinai. Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, and is marked by several distinct traditions. One, which takes the commandment to dwell in booths literally, is to erect a sukkah, a small, temporary booth or hut. Sukkot (in this case, the plural of sukkah) are commonly used during the seven-day festival for eating, entertaining and even for sleeping.
It is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (“Shloshet HaRegalim”) along with Passover and Shavuot.
Our sukkot have open walls and open doors, and this encourages us to welcome as many people as we can. We invite family, friends, neighbors, and community to rejoice, eat, and share what we have with each other. Another name for Sukkot is Chag Ha-asif, (Festival of the Ingathering), representing the importance in Jewish life of giving thanks for the bounty of the earth.
On each day of Sukkot, there is a waving ceremony of the four species:
- Etrog: The fruit of a citron tree.
- Lulav: The leaf of a date palm tree.
- Hadas: Boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree.
- Aravah: Branches (with leaves) from the willow tree.
These four species are characterised traditionally by their taste and smell.
The Etrog has both good taste and smell, symbolising those who study Torah and do good deeds.
The Lulav has taste but no smell, symbolising those who study Torah but do not do good deeds.
The Hadas has good small but no taste, symbolising those who do good deeds but do not study Torah.
Finally, the Aravah, has neither taste nor smell, symbolising those who do not study Torah nor do good deeds.