The month of October has been great as far as vacation time away from school. We only attend classes two or three days a week. With all this time off, it is hard to motivate oneself to study intensely. In the meantime, I have researched the observed Jewish holidays and enjoyed my break from the books.
Commonly referred to in prayer as the "Season of Our Rejoicing", Sukkot falls five days after the holiday Yom Kippur and is the last of three pilgrimage festivals in Jewish tradition. The word Sukkot means "booths," which is used today as a symbolical reference to the temporary shelters used while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years.
This holiday is often referenced as the "Feast of Tabernacles" as the holiday was dually associated with the festival of the harvest. Sukkot extends over a period of seven days and the use of a sukkah (singular form of sukkot) for eating and sleeping is encouraged. I was amazed to see the diversity in adherence to this commandment that brings to mind thoughts of the wandering children of Israel.
Sukkah come in all forms and can be seen in many predominantly Jewish communities. Local restaurants provide them for Jewish patrons, some companies offer portable options, and with space permitting, they may even be seen on the balconies of some dwelling units. Traditionally, they are small enough to cover the food table and those who dine under the sukkot.
General requirements for the sukkah are as follows:
- At least two and a half walls
- Covering - Something cut from the ground (tree branch, stalks, etc)
- The top is not to be tied together, but laid out loose
- Rain covers may be used when not fulfilling a mitzvah
"Arba Minim," as it is known in Jewish culture, is a ritual that employs four plants to "rejoice before the Lord." It is believed to have an agricultural significance as well as symbolic variation among Jews. The four plants are as follows:
- Etrog -a citrus fruit, commonly a lemon
- Lulav - a palm branch
- Aravot - two willow branches
- Hadassim - three myrtle branches
Some believe this holiday to be similar to the adopted Thanksgiving practiced in the United States. Now you can say you are in "the know." Chag Sameach.