The Importance of Sukkot – which Begins this Week

from the Lid

While not officially a holiday, the five day period after Yom Kippur leading up to Sukkot (which starts Wednesday evening) are the most dangerous days in the Jewish calendar (and it’s not because God starts zapping those who didn’t make it into the book or iPad of life on the Day of Atonement).

It’s the one time each year one can find some Jewish men using tools

Five days after Yom Kippur Jews begin the celebration of Sukkot. This festival is one of the three biggies (the other two are Passover and Shavuot). I know what some of you are thinking and the answer is no, Chanukah is a very minor holiday. The three “biggie” festivals as well as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the only holidays ordained by God in the Torah. All the other holidays such as Chanukah, Purim, and my birthday were either created by Rabbis, other great leaders or as in the case of my birthday by a blogger looking for attention (note one man-made holiday does reach the level of the “biggies” above–that is my wedding anniversary -that is because of a Hebrew phrase called “Shalom HaBayit” peace in the household).

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As it says in the Torah,

Speak to the children of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, is the Festival of Succoth, a seven day period to the Lord.

Oh yeah I forgot to tell you. Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year is the first day of Tishrei, the Seventh month in the Jewish calendar (when God created the universe). In Judaism there are four New Years every year. Along with Rosh HaShana are:

  • The 15th of Shevat also known as Tu B’Shevat–it is the new year for trees. In the Torah it says we are not to eat a tree’s fruit until it is three years or three Tu B’Shevat’s old
  • The first of Nisan (which is the first month).  Passover is 15 days later.  It is said seventy individuals went into Egypt to become slaves and we came out as one people. Nisan celebrates becoming one people and meriting our redemption from Egypt.The first of Nisan is also a reminder to start adding fiber to our diet because all that matzoh we are about eat two weeks during Passover is going to be like cement in our intestines.
  • The last new year, the first of  Elul, is the New Year for the tithing of cattle. The tithe for cattle had to be made from cattle born in the same fiscal year, between the first of Elul one year and the next.

Back to Sukkot– part of the holiday observance is to create a flimsy “structure” with a semi-see though roof–the roof must be built from something that grows in the ground.  The structure is called a Sukkah.  My friend Eddie built his Sukkah from scratch using raw materials, kind of like the one below.  He is what’s known in Hebrew as שוויצר which translates as “freaking show-off.” As for me,  I put together a pre-fabricated Sukkah like the one at the top of this post…

During Sukkot we eat, entertain, and some even sleep in this structure. Personally my favorite part of the holiday is inviting over friends and hanging out in the Sukkah, It seems less pressured than when they come into the house and hang out….


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