Ceremonies /
Sukkot
Reading Passages and Poems for Sukkot

Exodus 12, 13

37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Sukkot, about six hundred thousand males by foot, besides children.  38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.

20 And they journeyed from Sukkot and they camped at Eitam at the edge of the desert.

  • What is the Importance of the Fact that the Children of Israel Camped in Sukkot after Leaving Egypt?

This shall become clear to us if we remember that nomadic people are comprised of many shepherds of flocks and herds, which is not common among civil nations. And these settled nations have advantages over wandering people.  But nomads, being closer to nature are, in many aspects, more innocent and modest.

The unity and peace that prevails among them are not quite faulty, their virtue does not undergo much corruption, as opposed to what occurs among civil people; and they have other worthy values as well.

On the other hand, the life of the civil nations, are more culture oriented compared to the nomads, as far as internal order, science and utilization of natural resources and in overall advancement.

Therefore, it is advantageous for a nomadic nation that turns into a civil one, to preserve its good values, ordinarily attributed to a wandering nation ---

Thereupon our Torah commanded us: "You shall sit in Sukkot for Seven Days. All native born of Israel, shall sit in Sukkot, so that your descendants may know, that I had the Children of Israel dwell in Sukkot when I took them out of Egypt".

So that it remembers the former period and carefully preserves what it possessed.

So that they remember that when they were wanderers and carried themselves about close to  of nature they had admirable virtues connected with such a life and that they ought to conserve them also when they become a nation of civilians.

And as a ramification of this consideration, the Torah emphasized and declared: "The civil ones of Israel shall sit in Sukkot".

Anyone who is currently a civilian, and is no longer a lost wanderer, must arouse the memories of his early wandering days.

And the Torah chose to designate the time the holiday ti the harvesting season, when we collect the produce in the threshing floors and wineries, so that while witnessing the ample goodness, we shall not become arrogant as a result of this and shall not neglect our pureness in light of all this abundance.

M.L. Lilienblum

In Tishrei / Naomi Shemer

In Tishrei the Palm produced a pretty fruit that's brown

In Cheshvan upon my roof some drops were falling down

In Kislev a daffodil

In Tevet some hail

And in Shevat the sun came out for a single day

In Adar the scent from orchards gave us pleasant joy

In Nissan all scythes are busy harvesting galore

In Iyar the blossoms grew

And ripened in Sivan

By Tamuz and Av the harvest was really done

Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet flew like a bird above

Like Shvat, Adar, Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, Tamuz and Av

And when Elul brought with it the scent of Fall to match

We had just begun to sing our joyful song from scratch

 

  • It is a common custom in Israel to go and greet a rabbi or an important guest on Shabbats or on Holidays.

 

Thus the Kabbalists took heed and instituted the custom of the Ushpizin, inviting seven guests to the Sukkah, on the seven days, a guest a day, a guest of the day. The homeowner stands at the door of his sukkah, from within, and invites the following seven honored Ushpizin: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. Each day one of these guest is appointed to head the group, in order.

Seven guests for what?

Because "the Holy One, Blessed be He, loves sevens." And they also correspond the seven days of the mitzvah of sitting in the Sukkah.

"The Seven shepherds are they"

"The Seven who are faithful in the eyes of the Holy One Blessed Be He"

"The Seven who had made a covenant with God"

"The Seven that were not controlled by the evil Inclination"

"The Seven pillars of the World"

(Yom Tov Levinsky)

 

"It is Greater to Host Guests than to Greet the Divine Presence"

(Shabbat, 127)

The Rambam (In Hilchot Yom Tov, 6, halacha 17) writes: "Whoever locks the doors of his yard on the holiday and eats and drinks including only himself, his sons and his wife, and does not provide food and drinks to the poor and bitter people, this is not considered joy of a Mitzvah but rather the joy of his stomach.

 

What is the Purpose of Four Species?

Arava - it has no smell and has no taste and is likened to those of the children of Israel, who do not have influence nor do they leave their mark on this world in some accomplishment.

Lulav - It has no smell nor tastes and is likened to those of the children of Israel who, without study, give, influence, and perform positive deeds.

Hadas - it has no taste yet has a pleasant scent and is likened to those of the children of Israel that have potential powers that are not expressed in action and consequently, do not leave a mark on our world.

Etrog - It has both a palatable taste and pleasant scent and is likened to the scholars who study and perform acts of giving.

The three branches of the Haddas – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

The two branches of the Arava – Moses and Aharon

The single Lulav frond – Joseph

The single Etrog – David

Totaling with seven Ushpizin.

Shlomit is building a Sukkah

Shlomit is building a Sukkah

Full of light and greenery

That's why today she's so busy.

But it's not simply a Sukkah

Full of light and greenery -

Shlomit is building a Sukkah of peace

She will not forget to lay out

The lulav and the myrtle leaves

A branch of green willow,

A pomegranate within its leaves,

And all the fruits of autumn,

With its fragrance of orange groves.

 

And when Shlomit says

Look! It's already finished!

Suddenly something wondrous will happen:

All the neighbors will come,

It will be a swarm -

And there will be room for everyone!

 

Then, through the roof of branches,

With a bright glow as though it were a diamond

She will spot a star, saying:

-Shalom, wondrous Sukkah,

How fine and how pleasing it is -

That Shlomit build a Sukkah of peace.

 

He Causes the Wind to Blow and the Rain to Fall

The Hebrew calendar is divided into periods for prayers for dew (Pesach to Sukkot) and periods for rain prayers (from Sukkot to Pesach). The prayers for dew are recited since dew is always a symbol of blessing, so that all of the holidays are celebrated while the blessing of dew prevails. For our father Isaac, may peace be upon him, blessed Jacob, our forefather Jacob, may peace be upon him, and said to him: "May G-d grant you from the dew of Heaven and from the richness of the earth, and a multitude of grain and tithes" (Genesis 27);

The rains are not a blessing during the festival, and therefore they are not mentioned until the holiday is over. As we have learned in the Tractate of Ta'anit: The rains during the holiday - to what are they compared? To a slave who came to pour a drink for his rabbi and the Rabbi spilled the jug onto his face. This means that the Holy One, Blessed be He, commanded us to sit in the Sukkah for seven days, and if He does not allow us to dwell in it due to the rains, it seems like He rejected His commandments. Therefore, the prayers for rainfall and the blowing of the wind begins the day after Shemini Atzeret.

The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: "You are locked out before me on Passover, when there is no rain and winds, and I lock you out before the Sukkot holiday, and I cause the winds to blow, raise clouds and bring down rain and create dew, and effectuate the appearance of rich fruit and growing grass, and you are locked out and do not have rainfall before Pesach, when you reap and find the land full of fruits.

(Israel ben Joseph Alnaqua)

Israel, throughout the seven days of the holiday present themselves to the Holy One Blessed Be He and beseech him with Lulav, Etrog, Hadas and Arava, as if to say: Master of the World, although the rainfalls are not a symbol of blessing on the holiday, in order that we observe the mitzvah of Sukkah, nonetheless it is the season for rain, have mercy on these four species, that grow on the water and dry up if they are not irrigated, and grant us rainfalls with grace, immediately following the holiday.

(From: "Menorat Hamaor")

That You are G-d our Lord, He who Makes the Wind Blow and the Rain Fall

For a Blessing and not as a Curse

For Life and not for Death

For Satiation and not for Emaciation

The Gardeners are Sad Today-Lea Goldberg

The gardeners are sad today.

But the farmers

Are thankful for the rain.

And both of us are lost

Hiding our eyes from

One another.

Let us be Wise: Do not ask

What grew, what withered

And what was uprooted from the heart.

This storm

Shall soon subside,

This question

Shall soon be forgotten

Behold above the tower

A rainbow already appears.

The gardeners are sad today.

But the farmers

Are thankful for the rain.

Libation of the Water and the Joy of the Water Drawing

A special character of the festival of Sukkot in our tradition, lies in its function as the harbinger of the rainy season and as a symbol that embodies the element of water that is considered by the ancients to be one of the foundations from which the world was created and all that is in it. Since the libation of water for ritual purposes at the beginning of the harvest season was customary and understood by all of the nations residing in the Mediterranean region, where the rains begin to fall in the month of Cheshvan as testified by the Talmud. The custom of water libation in general, is mentioned in Samuel 1 (6, 7) "And all the Israelites gathered together, and they drew water and poured it before the Lord"

And this is evidence of water libation that was customary before the First Temple was built. And not only was the custom mentioned here, but also the term "drawn", based on which, the water libation on Sukkot in the Mishna was named Simchat Beit-Hashoeva (Hashoeva – meaning drawing).

(Prof. Nahum Slouschz)

The Sukkot Holiday is perhaps the most significant of all the Jewish holidays: the harvest, the prayer for rain, sitting in the sukkah, ascending to the Temple, Simchat Torah ... We will now try to emphasize the equality and brotherhood between the people, symbolized by the holiday.

For, in the face of the natural forces of rain, wind and growth, all humans are equal. The big and the small, the woman and the man, the wise and the simpleton, the rich and the poor - all are nurtured by bread, and everyone anticipates the arrival of the rain.

 

"So Said Rabbi Shimon son of Yochai:

Three things resemble each other as follows:

Land, man and rain.

Rabbi Levi said: And all three of them are comprised of three Hebrew letters, to teach you that if there is no land there is no rain and if there is no rain there is no land, and if both of them are missing – there is no man."

(Bereishit Raba)

 

And in a small and temporary Sukkah, the gaps between rich and poor disappear, and the value of assets is nullified. Is Rabbi Isaac son of Moses Arama, of the 15th century explains:

"The Holiday of Sukkot, in which the people abandon all monetary matters and - everything called properties, and go out to a small sukkah, where there is nothing but a daily meal, and most of them contain a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp - which is a wonderful awakening, signifying that a person ought to minimize his attempts to increase these assets, since he may suffice with that which is absolutely necessary for the rest of his existence in this corridor, which is a temporary residence."

The basic feeling of equality among all human beings also extends beyond the borders of nations, and the holiday of Sukkot creates an atmosphere of reconciliation and brotherhood between Israel and the nations of the world. This is how Rabbi Elazar explains the sacrifice of the seventy bulls on Sukkot:

 

"Rabbi Eliezer said: Whom do the seventy bulls of Sukkot symbolize – they symbolize the seventy nations."

(Bavli, Sukkah)

And Rashi explains:

"They symbolize the seventy nations to atone for them so that there be rainfall in the entire world – since the judgement of water occurs on the Holiday of Sukkot".

 

And in the prophecy of the end of days by the Prophet Zechariah we find:

"Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will ascebd year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot."

In the symbols of the holiday we, therefore, find that equality is symbolized by the paucity and temporality of the sukkah, and the peace between human beings based on common dependence on elements of nature. This was the case in the past.

The following are words of a modern prophet, whose vision of redemption entailed the equality between men materializing in conditions of abundance and not those of poverty, and that peace between nations stems from shared security, and not from fear:

 

"After the subjugation that oppresses individuals into the division of labor disappears, and after the contrast between spiritual and physical work disappears, being that labor shall  not merely serve as a means of sustenance, but will become in itself the first and foremost necessity of life; as the productive forces grow with the all-sided development of individuals and after all the communal springs of wealth will have been filled with abundance -

Only then can it be possible to completely deviate from the narrow horizons of the bourgeois law, and only then would society be able to emulate it; By every person according to his ability, to each person according to his needs."

(Karl Marks)

 

A Good Word /Yaacov Gilad

Even in the greatest wave of heat

I knew the rain would surely be a treat

Through my window blind I saw a bird

Even through the storm, the winds, the cold

 

It may be difficult most of the time

But a good word sounds just like a hymn

 

Only a good word or two is fine

No more so please give it some time

Even on a main street filled with noise

A man was playing music with some poise

I met some people who were mighty glad

Even as they passed some narrow paths

 

I have an opening for hope and prayer

Even when my love is far away

I had dreamt of many better days

Though troubled nights have kept me quite awake

 

Only a good word or two –

No more do I need.

Only a good word, for now

Is enough for me. 

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