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Study and Theory/

Customs of Sukkot at the time of our Sages

They said of Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel that when he rejoiced at the rejoicing at the place of the Water-Drawing, he used to take eight lighted torches [and throw them in the air] and catch one and throw one and they did not touch one another.

Bavli, Sukkah, Chapter 5, 53a


At that time too they would try to guess whether it would be a rainy year however then the worries were different.

Didn’t Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Avdimi say: At the conclusion of the final day of the festival of Sukkot, everyone looks to the smoke of the arrangement of wood; if the wind blew from the south and the smoke tends toward the north, the poor were glad and the homeowners were sad. This is because it was a sign that the year’s rains would be plentiful, producing an abundant crop on the one hand, but on the other hand, the fruit would rot due to the humidity, rendering it impossible to store the abundant harvest. This forced the landowners to sell quickly at a lower price. And if a northern wind caused the smoke to tend toward the south, the poor were sad and the homeowners were glad, because it was an indication that the year’s rains would be sparse. The yield would be low, and it would be easy to store the fruit and sell it at a higher price.

If a western wind caused the smoke to tend to the east, that was an indication that there would be sufficient rainfall to ensure a substantial crop, and at the same time, it would be possible to store the fruit, and everyone was glad. If an eastern wind caused the smoke to tend to the west that was an indication that there would be a drought because eastern winds do not bring rain, and everyone was sad

Bavli Yoma, 21b


Talmud Bavli, Sukkah Tractate


Page 28b, MISHNA:

All seven days of Sukkot, a person renders his Sukkah his permanent residence and his house his temporary residence. If rain falls, from when is it permitted to vacate the Sukkah? It is permitted from the point that it is raining so hard that the congealed dish will spoil. The Sages told a parable: To what is this matter comparable? It is comparable to a servant who comes to pour wine for his master, and he pours a jug [kiton] of water in his face.


Page 28b GEMARA:

The Sages taught: All seven days of Sukkot, a person renders his Sukkah his permanent residence and his house his temporary residence. How so? If he has beautiful vessels, he takes them up to the Sukkah. If he has beautiful bedding, he takes it up to the Sukkah. He eats and drinks and relaxes in the Sukkah. 


Page 42b MISHNA:

The lulav is taken for seven days. How so? If the first day of the Festival occurs on Shabbat, since the commandment to take the lulav on the first day is a commandment by Torah law, it overrides Shabbat and one takes the lulav that day. As a result, the lulav is then taken for seven days. And if the first day occurs on one of the rest of the days of the week and one of the other days of the Festival coincides with Shabbat, the lulav is taken only six days. Since the commandment to take the lulav is a commandment by rabbinic law throughout the rest of Sukkot, it does not override Shabbat.


Page 55 it says in the Torah:

For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work. (Leviticus 23:36). A parable of a king who invited his sons to a banquet for several days, as when it came the time for them to leave he said to them: “My sons, please, stay with me for another day, it is hard for me to leave you”.

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