Our next holiday is upon us. The High Holidays are over, we hope we are all inscribed in the book of life and that we will merit a good, sweet year.
Sukkos: a major Jewish festival held in the autumn (beginning on the 15th day of Tishri) to commemorate the sheltering of the Israelites in the wilderness. It is marked by the erection of small booths covered in natural materials. (Google)
From tonight, for a week, we partake all our meals in the sukkah, which is best described as a hut. The reason for that is written above. Another reason is that as a temporary dwelling the sukkah also represents the fact that all existence is fragile, and therefore Sukkot is a time to appreciate the shelter of our homes and our bodies. (toriavey.com)
The sukkah is decorated by the kids, here is a picture of ours!
Our sukkah is built in. Most people erect it only for the holiday and then take it down after. The sukkah is the reason why most Jewish families are only looking to buy apartments with balconies or houses with a garden.
This holiday is a joyous one. The first 2 days are proper holidays, where no electricity is allowed and is like a regular Sabbath. Then comes Chol Ha-moed which is called the intermediate days. Some things aren’t allowed, like writing but for the rest, it’s like a regular day. The days are used to go on family outings.
Another commandment that is unique to Sukkot is the taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog(citron), a lulav (palm frond), at least three hadassim (myrtle branches) and two aravot (willow branches). The Midrash tells us that the Four Kinds represent the various types and personalities that comprise the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity we emphasize on Sukkot. (Chabad.org)
Then comes the next 2 holidays of Shemini atzeres and simchat torah. Simchat Torah is the holiday for the children which they eagerly await for all year. Simcha means joy and the meaning of the holiday is our great joy at finishing and restarting the annual Torah reading cycle. The highlight of the day is called the hakafos in which the men and children dance around in circles 7 times with the Torah scrolls. It’s a beautiful and emotional sight to watch. The first few years of my marriage were hard as I had to see my husband dance empty handed. Oh, how my tears flowed when after 7 years, my husband was dancing with our precious long-awaited miracle in his hands!
As we want our kids to feel that Torah learning is sweet, the day is characterized by the distribution of sweets and the kids eat more junk food on that day than all year!
This holiday is a beautiful one, full of joy and adults and kids alike wait for it all year round!