Sukkot

 

Sukkot is observed five days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot literally means “booths” and refers to the temporary shelters we are commanded to live in during this holiday, as our ancestors did while wandering in the desert for forty years. The holiday is observed for a week, ending with Simchat Torah.

 

Building a Sukkah: A Sukkah must have at least two and a half walls covered with material that will not blow away. The walls do not have to be solid; canvas covered or tied down is acceptable. The roof must be made of material that grew from the ground and was cut off, such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, or sticks. The material must be left loose so that you can see the stars. There are no specific laws about the size the Sukkah needs to be; it simply needs to be large enough to fit your family and neighbors for the meals you will share.

 

While it is neither feasible nor desirable for most families to live in their Sukkahs for the length of the holiday, many enjoy having at least one meal a day in the Sukkah.

 

Another observance during Sukkot involves what are known as the Four Species or the lulav and etrog. We are commanded to take these four plants and use them to "rejoice before the Lord." The four species in question are an etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon native to Israel), a palm branch (in Hebrew, lulav), two willow branches, and three myrtle branches. The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav, because the palm branch is by far the largest part. The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing and waves the species in all six directions (East, South, West, North, up, and down), symbolizing the fact that God is everywhere.

 

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