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What does the holiday of Sukkot commemorate?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Holidays » Sukkot » Season of Rejoicing | Subscribe | What is RSS?


“But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month [the month of Tishrei], when you gather in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the festival of the L-rd for a seven day period... and you shall rejoice before the L-rd your G-d for a seven day period... For a seven day period you shall live in booths. Every resident among the Israelites shall live in booths, in order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:39-43).

According to some, the Sukkah commemorates the actual booths which the Jews erected in the Sinai Desert to protect themselves against the elements. We remember that we spent forty years in a desert without the most rudimentary human necessity – permanent housing - and yet G-d provided for all our needs and we lacked nothing. The more commonly accepted Midrashic approach, however, is that [the Torah uses the word “booths” euphemistically, and] the sukkah actually commemorates the miraculous Clouds of Glory which encircled and sheltered the Jews during their sojourn in the desert.


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
The temporary structure in which we are required to dwell for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkah must have at least three walls and its roof consists of unsecured branches, twigs or wooden slats.
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.