Sukkot

Sukkot begins on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Tishri, five days after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition, going from one of the most solemn days in our year (Yom Kippur) to one of the most joyous (Sukkot). 

Like Passover and Shavuot, Sukkot has both historical and agricultural significance. The holiday commemorates the forty-years of wandering after the exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites lived in temporary shelters.  It is also a harvest festival, sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif, the Festival of the Ingathering.  Sukkot is one of three pilgrimage holidays in which the Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Temple.

 

Sukkot Blessings

Blessing over the Arba Minim (Four Species)

The Arba Minim, Four Species, are an etrog (citron) and a bouquet of 3 branches: lulav (palm branch), aravah (willow) and hadas (myrtle).  The bouquet itself is also known as “the lulav”.

One of the central traditions of Sukkot is to take the arba minim and wave them each day of the week-long holiday (except Shabbat). Stand facing east (towards Jerusalem). Take the etrog in your left hand with the stem (green tip) up and the pitam (brown tip) down. Take the lulav (the palm, myrtle and willow branches bound together) in your right hand. Bring your hands together and recite the blessing below.

After you recite the blessing, turn the etrog so the stem is down and the pitam is up. Be careful not to damage the pitam. With the lulav and etrog together, gently the arba minim shake forward (East) three times, then pull the lulav and etrog back in front of your chest. Repeat this to the right (South), then over your right shoulder (West), then to the left (North), then up, then down.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam
asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu al n'tilat lulav (Amen)

Blessed are you, Adonai, our God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to take up the lulav (Amen)

In the Sukkah

When eating in the sukkah, the following blessing is said:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam
asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu
leisheiv basukah (Amen).

Blessed are you, Adonai our God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us
to sit in the sukkah (Amen) 

Shehecheyanu: 

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam shehecheyanu v'kiyimanu v'higi'anu laz'man hazeh. (Amein)

Blessed are you, Adonai our God, sovereign of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us
to reach this season (Amen)

Sukkot Rituals

Dwelling in the Sukkah:

On Sukkot it is a mitzvah to "dwell" in a sukkah.  Some people eat some or all of their meals in a sukkah and some even sleep there! Whether you build a sukkah in your own backyard or you visit one at a neighbor’s house or a nearby synagogue, you have the opportunity to connect to an age-old Jewish tradition.  

Constructing your Sukkah:

A kosher sukkah has at least two and a half walls covered with material that will not blow away in the wind. A sukkah may be any size, as long as you can comfortably spend time in it. The roof of the sukkah must be made of natural material such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, sticks, or two-by-fours. S’khakh (the covering) is placed sparsely enough that the stars can be seen but not so sparsely that there is more light than shade. The s’khakh goes on last.  Families take great pleasure in decorating their sukkah in unique and creative ways.  Enjoy!