Ritual Wisdom

Ritual Wisdom 10-11-19

Sunday night begins the festive holiday of Sukkot. This holiday is celebrated eight days in Israel and nine days in the Diaspora. In Israel the eighth day of Sukkot is called Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. In the Diaspora, the eighth day of the holiday is Shmini Atzeret and the ninth day is Simchat Torah.

During the first seven days of Sukkot, we eat our meals in the Sukkah. Many also sleep in the Sukkah. Some even eat in the Sukkah on the eighth day.

During Sukkot (excluding Shabbat) we also perform the mitzvah of reciting the blessing over the Lulav and Etrog.

This mitzvah consists of the following four kinds; Etrog (citron); Lulav (palm branch); Hadasim (myrtle branches) and Aravot (willow branches). The Lulav, the three Hadasim and the two Aravot are bound together and held in the right hand. The Etrog is held in the left hand. We recite the blessing over them, put the Etrog together with the other ones & shake them. This mitzvah symbolizes unity amongst the Jewish people.

Although Sukkot is one of three festive holidays, only the holiday of Sukkot is called “Z’man Simchateinu” – “Season of our rejoicing.” The festivity during Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah is much more than the other holidays.

Q. Why, is Sukkot considered, “Season of our rejoicing,” more than the other holidays?

A. Since the Torah mentions and commands us three times to be joyful and rejoice during Sukkot, therefore the holiday is called, “Season of our rejoicing.”

The next “festive” holiday after Sukkot will be in six months, on Passover. From Sukkot to Passover is the longest spread between holidays. Thus, we must absorb as much joy and spiritual uplifting as possible during Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah so it will last throughout the winter, until Passover.

A Rabbi once used the following example: Years ago, people boiled tea leaves down to their concentrated essence. The essence was so strong that adding just a few drops into hot water was enough to make a good cup of tea.

The same is true of the holidays of this month. We must take in so much Simcha-joy during Sukkot and Simchat Torah to last us in our day-to-day activities during the rest of the year; for the mitzvah of “Simcha” applies all year long, as it is stated, “Serve Hashem with joy”.

Please join us for Sukkot services Monday morning, October 14th at 10AM and Kiddush in the Sukkah



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