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Learn about the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and its traditions with
Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg.
Tags:The Jewish Holiday of Sukkot,jewish high holidays,jewish holidays,jewish scriptures,jewish traditions,rabbi jonathan ginsburg,rjhgins,sukkot holiday,sukkot traditions
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Shalom, I am Rabi Jonathan Ginsburg of the Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation, Skokie. This video is about Succoth and the holidays at the end. It is a seven day holiday according to the Torah and the Diaspora we observe it eight days plus a ninth day for Simchas Torah. Else where another video explained why we have a double day in the Diaspora of the Yom Tov holidays, so what is Succoth? First of all it is described as a harvest festival, in ancient times when our ancestors were farmers, this was a major harvest time and they express a great joy when the harvest came in. they also probably built portable tents or houses in the fields. They would not have to return to there main house each night if it was a long distance.
Later on there was a historical later added to the holiday, that is according to the Torah that we build Booze to commemorate the Booze our ancestors lived in there journey in the 40 years in the dessert. So if you think about it, it is fascinating that the Torah has two holidays that are week long. They are equidistant in terms of time apart, each six months exactly apart. One is the middle of the first month of the year Pesach and the other is middle of the seventh month of the year Succoth. They both commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. So God obviously thought is was very important that we remember, that we were slaves and that we live in Succoth and fragile huts to remember how fragile life is in that we should not depress other people who today still unfortunately many live in fragile housing.
So what is the holiday? First of all the commandment is to build a Sucah and even if you have an apartment and you have that un appealed access to the sky. You can build a Sucah on to your balcony often times people put it in there backyard. Synagogues put it on there lawn. It is a way of spending time outdoors and nature. The Sucah is when I was growing up we all made of wood and had a lot of fun assembling and my father would build it with me. It was the only thing I ever built all year. Kind of a joke about Jews not having a hammer, but we had a ball and every kid in the neighbor who want to come and build the Sucah, we decorate it. But now a days you go online to sucah.com or some other Sucah on the web and you can order a Sucah or you can pick it up were we live right on Demister or somewhere in the area here. We have one that is metal poles that you kind of just screw together and it canvas side and a bamboo top.
One of the key things is the top is called Sekhakh a very hard word to pronounce Sekhakh and it has to made of material that ones was is living. It can currently attached to a tree for example and it cannot be something that will decompose during the holiday so was used our corn stocks, ever greens, bamboo things like that. It has to cover the top but it has to allow more shade than sun but it cannot be completely covered. Then you are suppose to spend as much time as you can in this booth, meals and some people sleep in them and there are some Fascistic for example that decorate there Sucah unbelievably lavishly beautiful. And, you are suppose to spend as much time as you can in the Sucah and there is a Mitzvah to Abrakhah to recite [Foreign language].
One of the interesting cabalistic mystic customs is to welcome in guests each night Ushpizin, I recommend that you see the movie Ushpizin it is very interesting. Ushpizin are guest that you welcome in and there historical guests, Abraham and Sarah the first night and Isaac and Rebecca the second night so on each night of Succoth. Another interesting costume is to imagine who you like to have in your Sucah. And they have a discussion about that.
The other major aspect of Succoth is of course the Lulav and Etrog, the Lulav is a date palm branch and of course Christian Jews palm branches around there eastern time, who knows maybe that there Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with Palm branches of any case. The Jewish custom based on the Torah which is thousands of years earlier was that we wave a palm branch and we attach to it willow and myrtle leaves. And you also have a citrus called the Etrog and you hold it together and you say a blessing [Foreign language] and then you shake it all in the directions, all 6 directions, up, down, north, south, east, west to show that God is every where. We do this every day but Shabbat of Succoth you much around the synagogue with it and it reflects the agriculture dimension. Was also to great Big Rashim about it, one says that each element of Lulav and Etrog represents a body part, the spine, the heart, the lips and the eyes and that you need to have your entire body in worshiping God. The other says that each represent the different kind of Jew since some have smell, some have taste and some have both, some have neither of this four species so like some Jews study Torah and some Jew do Mitzvoth and some do neither but you did that all the Jewish people unified.
So that is basically the holiday of Sucah, the special Torah readings and special prophetic readings and special prayers like Halal, the Psalms. That is really a wonderful family time following Yom Kippur. Our ancestors sacrificed what other interesting custom is that the Torah describes that different amongst of bulls until 2000 years ago before that. When you add up the number of bulls that were sacrificed it equals to 70 and the Rabbi said that is because there were 70 nations of the world in those days and we should offer a blessing for all the nations of the world. Put that in contrast to the Natzi’s or to the Iran, president today who want to destroy Israel and all the peoples in the world that hate each other, then Jews. The Torah says bless all the nations of the world. The last day of Succoth is called Shemini Atzeret the eighth day boundary and that is the day in which we have Yester prayers. We also begin the prayer for rain in Israel, hoping that it will be a very rainy season to help the Middle East. Then in Israel, the same day is Consimha Torah but in the Diaspora it is the next day in where we rejoice, we finish reading the Torah cycle. It takes a whole year to read all five books then we begin again. We dance with the Torah in celebration and it is really a festive time of celebrating the birthday after all, a few with the Torah. How would you like to be celebrated, it is like to be reading by to be dance with and that is what we do, so that is the conclusion of our Tishray cycle of festivals for the holiday of Succoth [Foreign language].