Sukkot Web Series

Sukkot

Web Series

NJOP’s Sukkot web series features Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, Founder and Director of NJOP, as he speaks about Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret. You can find links to each video below.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Yom Tov - The First Festival Days

Yom Tov

The First Festival Days

Sukkot is a 7 day holiday. The first day (first two days outside of Israel) are Yamim Tovim – days which are kept like Sabbath (cooking and carrying, however, are permitted, provided it is also not Shabbat).

The Four Species (the lulav set) is composed of a lulav (palm frond), avot (myrtle branches), aravot (willow branches) and an etrog (citron).

The Sukkah is the temporary dwelling composed of three solid walls and a temporary roof made of branches or loose boards.

Yom Tov Candlelighting
If possible (if it is not a fire or child hazard), candles should be lit in the sukkah.

Shabbat and all Jewish holidays always begin at sunset of the evening before. On the Sabbath and Yom Tov [festival] candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset to welcome the holiday. On the second night of Yom Tov, candles are lit no earlier than one hour after sunset.When Sukkot begins on Friday night, the Shabbat candle-lighting procedure is as follows :Two candles (minimum) are lit, then both hands are waved towards the face, symbolically drawing in the light of the candles and the sanctity of the Sabbath/Yom Tov. The eyes are covered and the blessing is recited. On the second night, Saturday night, the blessing is said first, without the Shabbat addition, and only then are the candles lit (from a pre-existing flame). On Friday night, insert the bracketed words:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel [Shabbat v’]Yom Tov.
“Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of [the Sabbath and] Yom Tov (festival).”
An additional blessing is said on both nights of Rosh Hashana to acknowledge the good fortune of being able to experience the holiday:
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu, v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh.
“Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.”

The Festive Meal in the Sukkah:
Evening services are held in the synagogue.

While one must eat in the sukkah throughout the holiday, on the first night there is a specific obligation to do so. If it is raining, it is customary to wait to start the meal until the rain has stopped, waiting even until midnight. If the rain does not stop, many make the kiddush and ha’motzei (blessings over the wine and bread) in the sukkah and then return to the house to conclude the meal.

Ushpizin (Guests) – In the sukkah, the family prepares for the evening meal. Before kiddush, however, it is customary to take a moment to welcome the spiritual guests that join every Jew in the sukkah.
According to the kaballah, the Jewish mystical tradition, the Divine Presence (shechina) accompanies every Jew into the sukkah. The shechina is accompanied by the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aharon, and David.

Each evening the host of the sukkah welcomes the seven ushpizin (guests) by saying:

I invite to my meal the exalted guests: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aharon, and David. May it please you, Abraham, my exalted guest, that all the other exalted guests dwell here with me and with you – Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aharon, and David.
On each night a different guest is welcomed, in a specific order. Thus on the second night, one says: May it please you, Isaac, my exalted…and on the third night: May it please you, Jacob, my exalted…etc.

Kiddush (the blessing over wine), found in the regular siddur or holiday machzor (prayer book), is recited, followed immediately by the blessing for residing in the sukkah — leishev ba’sukkah and she’he’che’yanu — the blessing of G-d who has kept us alive for this occasion.

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu leishev ba’sukkah.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

Because the first day of Yom Tov is also Shabbat, Havdallah, the ceremony separating holy days from each other and weekdays, is recited as part of Kiddush before the second night meal.

On the second night of Yom Tov (outside of Israel), the order of the two blessings is reversed — one first says she’he’che’yanu and then leishev ba’sukkah.

Ha’Motzei – After a ritual washing of the hands, the blessing is made over two whole challot.

a) Because it is still the New Year season, it is customary to have two sweet, round (raisin) challahs.
b) It is also customary to continue dipping the challah in honey in addition to the customary sprinkling with salt.
A festive meal is eaten, followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “May there rise and come…”, for the holiday.

Sleeping in the sukkah is part of the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah. Many, however, choose to sleep inside due to the cold or the unsafe location.

The Morning Synagogue Service

a) The Torah Reading is Leviticus 22:26 – 23:44

        • The haftorah (prophetic message) on the first day is from the Book of Zechariah 14:1-21
        • The haftorah on the second day is from Kings I, 8:2-21

b) Hallel and Hoshanot

Hallel is a collection of Psalms that are recited on the festivals and Rosh Chodesh (the new month).

        • During the holiday of Sukkot, the lulav set is held and shaken during the Hallel service.
        • On Shabbat, Hallel is recited without the lulav set.

The Hoshana Service is the special service of Sukkot.

        • During the Hoshana Service, congregants circle the bimah with the lulav set.
        • On Shabbat, the Hoshana Service are recited without the lulav set, reminiscent of the circuits made in the ancient Temple by those observing Sukkot in Jerusalem.

The Festive Lunch is eaten in the Sukkah

a) The Festival Day Kiddush (blessing over wine), found in the holiday machzor (prayer book), is recited, followed by the blessing leishev ba’sukkah.

b) Ha’Motzei – After a ritual washing of the hands, the blessing is made over two whole challot, the pieces of which are sprinkled with salt and dipped in honey.
c) A festive meal is eaten, followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “He will go up and he will come…”, for the Sukkot holidays.

      • Mincha, the afternoon service is recited (including the weekly Torah reading since it is also Shabbat).
      • Havdallah – At the conclusion of the second day of Yom Tov, Havdallah, separating holy days from week days, is recited. This Havdallah consists of only the blessing over grape juice (HaGafen) and the Havdallah blessing (HaMavdil), which can be found in the prayer book.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Sukkot Jewish Treats

Jewish Treats about

Sukkot

Browse our archive of Sukkot related Jewish Treats.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah

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Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah

The Gathering of the 8th

Shemini Atzeret, literally the Gathering of the Eighth, appears, on the surface, to be the eighth day (and ninth day outside of Israel) of Sukkot. It is, however, a separate and independent holiday that immediately follows Sukkot.

Simchat Torah is actually the second day of the Sh’mini Atzeret festival and is a Yom Tov.

In Israel, Shemini Atzeret is celebrated concurrently with Simchat Torah. Outside of Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated on the following day. This Crash Course in Jewish Holidays presents them as two separate days.

SHEMINI ATZERET

Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah is a Yom Tov and is observed like Sukkot, hence carrying and cooking are permitted. On Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, the obligation to dwell or eat in the sukkah no longer pertains. In the Diaspora, some eat in the sukkah (without a blessing) on Shemini Atzeret, while others do not. In Israel, there is no custom to eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeret.

Candlelighting

Shabbat and all Jewish holidays always begin at sunset of the evening before. On the Sabbath and Yom Tov [festival] candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset to welcome the holiday. On the second night of Yom Tov, candles are lit no earlier than one hour after sunset.
Shabbat and all Jewish holidays always begin at sunset of the evening before. On the Sabbath and Yom Tov [festival] candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset to welcome the holiday. On the second night of Yom Tov, candles are lit no earlier than one hour after sunset.

When Shemini Atzeret, begins on Friday night, the Shabbat candle-lighting procedure is as follows:

        • Two candles (minimum) are lit, then both hands are waved towards the face, symbolically drawing in the light of the candles and the sanctity of theSabbath/Yom Tov. The eyes are covered and the blessing is recited. On the second night, Saturday night, the blessing is said first, without the Shabbat addition, and only then are the candles lit (from a pre-existing flame).

On Friday night, insert the bracketed words:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel [Shabbat v’]Yom Tov.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of [the Sabbath and] Yom Tov (festival).

An additional blessing is said on both nights of Shemini Atzeret, to acknowledge the good fortune of being able to experience the holiday:
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu, v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

Evening services are held in the synagogue.
A festive meal is eaten, preceded by the festival Kiddush, ritual washing of the hands and Ha’Motzei, which is made over two whole challot. The meal is followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “May there rise and come…”, in honor of the holiday.

The Morning Synagogue Service

1) On Sh’mini Atzeret the formal prayer for rain is added to the service (as Sh’mini Atzeret marks the start of the rainy season in Israel).
a) Although there are many allusions to rain on Sukkot, and G-d determines the allotment of rain for the next year on Hoshana Rabah, the prayer for rain is delayed until after the Sukkot holiday. Rain on Sukkot is considered a sign of disfavor since it prevents the fulfillment of the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah.
b) The cantor recites the prayer for rain during the repetition of the Mussaf (additional) service.
2) In the Silent Amidah, ma’shiv ha’ruach u’morid ha’geshem, He makes the wind blow and He makes the rain descend, is inserted. Mashiv… is added to each service until Passover.

A festive meal is eaten, proceeded by the daytime festival Kiddush, ritual washing of the hands and HaMotzei, which is made over two whole challot. The meal is followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “May there rise and come…”, in honor of the holiday.
Mincha, the afternoon service is recited (including the weekly Torah reading, since it is also Shabbat).

SIMCHAT TORAH

Simchat Torah is actually the second day of the Sh’mini Atzeret festival and is a Yom Tov.

1) The festival meals (with festival kiddush, ha’motzei and Grace After Meals) are eaten.
2) Because the first day of Yom Tov is also Shabbat, Havdallah, the ceremony separating holy days from each other and weekdays, is recited after Kiddush at the second night meal.

Simchat Torah celebrates the conclusion of the yearly cycle of the reading of the Torah.

1) Moshe ordained that the Torah should be read on every Shabbat and the Rabbis divided the Torah into 54 sections called parshiot (parasha). Generally, due to the cycle of the year, certain parshiot are doubled, ie: read together on a single Shabbat.
2) On the same day that the Torah is completed, it is begun again to show that Torah is always a new and desired gift for the Jews, and that our mitzvah to study Torah is never ending.

Simchat Torah Night

1) After the evening service, all the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark.
2) The bimah is circled seven times by those holding the Torah scrolls as the congregation dances around them. Each circle, called hakafa, begins with a responsive prayer.
3) In many communities, the beginning of the final parasha of the Torah is read on Simchat Torah night, the only time that it is read at night. *NOTE: The Simchat Torah festivities can last many hours. If you have been invited to friends or family for dinner, please confirm what time to meet.

Simchat Torah Day

1) During the morning service, all the Torahs are again taken from the ark and the hakafot, the joyous circling of the night before, is repeated.
2) The final parasha (weekly portion) of the Torah, V’Zot HaBracha (And this is the blessing…) is read.
It is customary that every man present in the synagogue receive an aliyah (be called to the Torah) on Simchat Torah. The final parasha is, therefore, read over and over until everyone has had an aliyah. In some congregations, several Torah readings take place simultaneously.
3) At the end of the Torah reading, there are three special aliyot for Simchat Torah:

Kol ha-Ne’arim, All the Children. This is the second to last aliyah of the parasha V’Zot Ha’Bracha. On Simchat Torah all the children are called together for a joint aliyah.
All of the children in the synagogue come to the bimah and stand beneath an outstretched tallit, prayer shawl. Since children under the age of 13 do not officially receive aliyot, one adult recites the blessings over the Torah with them.

After the concluding blessing over the Torah, the blessing over the children is recited:

Y’simicha E-lokim k’Ephraim u’ke’Menashe. Y’varechecha A-donai, v’yishm’recha. Ya’er A-donai panav eylecha viy’chu’neka. Yee’sa A-donai panav eylecha v’yasem l’cha shalom.
May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe. May G-d bless you and guard you. May G-d shine His countenance upon you, and be gracious unto you. May G-d turn his countenance to you and grant you peace.

The congregation then recites, HaMalach Ha’Goel, (The Redeeming Angel).

HaMalach Ha’goel oti meekol rah y’va’rech et han’arim, vey’karay bahem sh’mee, v’shem a’votai Avraham v’Yitzchak, v’yidgu la’rov b’kerev ha’aretz.

May the angel who redeemed me from all evil bless the youths, and call my name on them and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them grow into a multitude upon the land.

This is the part of the blessing the Jacob gave to Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Menashe.

Chatan Torah, The Bridegroom of the Torah
The Chatan Torah is the final aliyah of the Torah.
The Chatan Torah aliyah is considered a great honor. As a reciprocal gesture, it is customary for the Chatan Torah to sponsor of the Kiddush following the service or on a forthcoming Shabbat.

After the aliyah, the congregation recites:

Chazak, chazak, v’nit’chazaik Be strong, be strong and we will be strengthened c) Chatan Bereshit, The Bridegroom of the Beginning [of the Torah] i) The Chatan Bereshit is honored with restarting the Torah and begins with Genesis.

4) The services continue with the mussaf (additional) service. *NOTE: The Simchat Torah festivities can last many hours, depending on the synagogue. If you have been invited to friends or family for lunch, please confirm what time to meet.

Havdallah – At the conclusion of the second day of Yom Tov, Havdallah, separating holy days from week days, is recited. This Havdallah consists of only the blessing over grape juice (HaGafen) and the Havdallah blessing (HaMavdil), which can be found in the daily prayer book.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Hoshana Raba

Hoshana Raba

The last day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot

The last day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot is called Hoshana Raba, the Great Hoshana, because of the extensive Hoshana service.

a) All of the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and held by members of the congregation at the bimah.
b) While holding the lulav set, the bimah is circled 7 times while responsively reciting the special Hoshana prayers of the day.
c) After circling the bimah, the lulav set is put down and a special bundle of 5 aravot (willow branches) are held. Selichot, penitential prayers, are then recited and the Torah scrolls are returned to the ark.
d) The participants then take the bundle of aravot (willow branches) and beat them against the ground five times.

Hoshana Raba is actually the last day of the Sukkot holiday. (The remaining two days of Yom Tov are a separate festival). It is therefore customary to eat a festive meal in the sukkah in the afternoon to fulfill that mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah one last time.

a) It is traditional to begin the meal with a whole round challah which is sprinkled with salt and then dipped in honey.
b) On Hashana Rabbah, some have the custom to serve Kreplach (dumplings), which are symbolic of our wanting G-d to hide our sins.

While G-d judges the world on Rosh Hashana and concludes the verdict on Yom Kippur, on Hoshana Raba the verdict receives its final seal. One therefore has time to complete the teshuvah, repentance process, up until the closing hours of Hoshana Raba.

a) There is a custom to spend the night of Hoshana Raba studying Torah, fortifying oneself at the last moment of judgement.
b) The cantor wears a white kittel (robe) on Hoshana Raba, as he does on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
c) In Israel, people stay up all night studying Torah and then thousands go to the Western Wall for the Hoshana Raba Service.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Women's Obligation on Sukkot

Women's Obligation on Sukkot

Women are not responsible for the time-bound positive commandments, including among others: dwelling in the sukkah, the four species, shofar, tefillin, and many more.

Time Bound Positive Commandments

a) Women have, however, taken some of these commandments, such as shofar, upon themselves.

b) The Torah does not obligate people to perform mitzvot that they will not be able to fulfill on a consistent basis. Because of a woman’s role as child-bearer and initial nurturer, the Torah recognizes that a woman will often not be able to perform time-bound mitzvot at very specific times, and, therefore, exempted all women from these mitzvot. However, the halacha (Jewish law) allows women to fulfill these mitzvot on a voluntary basis.

c) When performing mitzvot for which one is not obligated, there is a disagreement whether the blessing over the mitzvah is recited.

According to Ashkenazic opinions, women may say the blessing when performing these mitzvot.
According to Sephardic opinion, women should not say the blessing when performing these mitzvot.

The Mitzvot of Sukkot and Women

a) Dwelling in the sukkah

Because dwelling in the sukkah is required only during the holiday of Sukkot, it is a positive time-bound mitzvah. Many women also try to eat in the sukkah whenever possible.

b) The Four Species

Because the mitzvah of lulav and etrog may only be performed during the day, thus making it a positive time-bound mitzvah, women are not obligated to perform the mitzvah of the four species. Many women, however, choose to perform this mitzvah.

c) Synagogue services

Women are not obligated to pray in a minyan (a quorum of 10 men) and are therefore not obligated to attend services at the synagogue, although attendance is strongly recommend for those who are in a position to do so.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Ushpizin

Ushpizin

According to the kaballah, the Jewish mystical tradition, the Divine Presence (Shechina) accompanies every Jew into the sukkah. The Shechina is accompanied by the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aharon, and David. Why are these seven personalities invited into the sukkah?

The Sukkah, the temporary dwelling, reminds Jews of the time of wandering in the wilderness. Each of the seven ushpizin lived through their own exile under the guidance of G-d.

1) Abraham – went forth from his homeland and his father’s house to go to Canaan, the unknown place that G-d would show him (Genesis).
2) Isaac – went to Gerar in the Kingdom of Philistia when there was famine (Genesis).
3) Jacob – left his home to protect himself from his brother and to find a wife (Genesis).
4) Joseph – was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt (Genesis)
5) Moses – led the nation out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness and to the borders of the Promised Land (Exodus).
6) Aharon -led the nation in the wilderness in his role as High Priest (Exodus).
7) David – was driven into the wilderness to avoid the wrath of Saul (I Samuel).

Each of the seven ushpizin also personify character traits which strengthen the Divine Presence in this world:

1) Abraham – loving-kindness
2) Isaac – inner strength
3) Jacob – truth
4) Joseph – righteousness
5) Moses – Divine eternity
6) Aharon – Divine grandeur
7) David – Divine sovereignty

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


The Four Species

The Four Species

“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a hadar (beautiful) tree, the branch of the palm trees, a bough from the “avot” tree, and willows of the stream, and you shall rejoice before your G-d for seven days.”
– Leviticus 32:40

The Four Species are an essential mitzvah of Sukkot.

The Four Species

The Etrog

      • The fruit that the Torah calls hadar “The fruit of a beautiful tree.”
      • The English name for an etrog is citron, which is a yellow (or green when not ripe) citrus fruit.
      • It is necessary that the fruit be completely clean of spots. It should not be smooth like a lemon, and it should be broad at the bottom and narrowing towards the top.
      • Please note that the etrog is very delicate and should be handled with care. If dropped, the etrog can be damaged and rendered unfit for use!

The Lulav

      • The Lulav is the name of both one of the species and general term used to describe the three remaining species (lulav, hadassim, and aravot) when tied together.
      • The lulav is a palm frond.
      •  The lulav is placed between the hadassim (myrtle) and the aravot (willows).
      • A nice lulav is green, with no signs of dryness. It should be straight, without any bends or twists near the top. The tip and top leaves of the lulav must be whole, and not split.

The Aravot

      • The aravot are willow branches.
      • Two willow branches are attached to the lulav set.
      • The aravot are bound to the left side of the lulav, but slightly lower than the hadassim.
      • The aravot should have reddish stems with green, moist leaves. The leaves should be long, narrow and smooth-edged.
      • There should be no nips or tears.

The Hadassim

      • The hadassim are boughs of a myrtle tree.
      • Three myrtle branches are attached to the lulav set.
      •  The hadassim are bound on the right side of the lulav.
      • Hadassim should have moist, green leaves grouped in level rows of three. There should be no large, uncovered section of stem.

The stem and leaves should be whole, without any nips at the top and the leaves should go to the top of the branch. There should not be more berries than leaves and there should be no large twigs.

It is important that the four species are in the right condition.
If one has any questions, one should bring the lulav set to a rabbi.

Meanings Behind the Four Species

There are several interpretations to the significance of the four species.

The Four Species represent four types of Jews:

1) Etrog – represents Jews who possess both Torah learning and good deeds, for it has both a pleasant taste and a pleasant scent.
2) Lulav – represents Jews who possess Torah learning but lack good deeds, for it has a pleasant taste but no scent.
3) Hadassim – represent Jews who possess good deeds but lack Torah learning, for it has a pleasant scent but lacks taste.
4) Aravot – represent Jews who lack both Torah learning and good deeds, for it has no taste and no scent.

The Four Species also symbolizes how one may utilize one’s entire body to serve Torah:

1) Etrog – is like the heart, and so atones for the heart’s evil thoughts.
2) Lulav – is like the spine, the single central stem, so too Jews believe in one G-d.
3) Hadassim – are shaped like eyes, and thus atone for the improper sights which the eyes see.
4) Aravot – are shaped like the mouth, and so atone for the expressions of the lips (improper speech).

 

Doing the Mitzvah of “Taking the Four Species”

The mitzvah of “taking” the Four Species is performed on each of the first seven days of Sukkot, with the exception of Shabbat, and must be performed during the daytime.

How to “take” the Four Species:

1) The lulav set is held in one’s right hand.
2) The etrog is held in one’s left hand. It should be held up-side down (the narrower end or the end with the pitom facing downward) until after the first blessing is recited.
3) The four species are then brought together and the following blessing is recited:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu al n’tilat lulav.
“Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to take the four species.”

On the first day of Sukkot, one also recites the She’he’che’yanu, the blessing for having reached this new season:
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh.
“Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.”

4) After reciting the first blessing, the etrog is turned upward.
5) Holding all four species together and facing east (or toward the Holy Ark in the synagogue), they are then waved/shaken three times in the six directions: forward (away from oneself), right, backwards (towards oneself), left, up, and down.
a) An alternate opinion is that one waves them right, left, front, up, down, and back.
b) We wave the lulav set because they represent G-d’s creation of the world, as it says in the Talmud, in Sukkah 37b: It is as if one is taking the species and bringing them to G-d who owns the four directions. One raises them and lowers them to G-d who owns the heavens and the earth.

One must own the lulav set.

1) The lulav set must belong to the person using them.

2) Where there is only one lulav set available, people give the set to each other as a gift, thus allowing all present to fully participate in the mitzvah.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


The Sukkah

The Sukkah

The Sukkah Leviticus 23:42-43 – You shall dwell in sukkot seven days, every citizen in Israel shall dwell in sukkot, so that your descendants shall know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.
For the first seven days of Sukkot, Jews are obligated to dwell in their sukkot. But what is a sukkah?

The Physical Structure

A Sukkah is a temporary structure. While some of its walls may be permanent, the roof may not.) A Sukkah must have at least 2 + stable walls, although it is best if there are 4 walls.

While the walls may be made of cloth or canvas, they must be taut and bound tight enough that the walls will not sway in the wind.
The roof of the sukkah must be temporary. The roof of the sukkah is made from sechach. Sechach is defined as parts of a plant that are now detached from the ground, such as branches or bamboo stalks.

i) The roof materials cannot have been previously used as a utensil, such as boards from a dismantled crate.
ii) The material cannot be edible and should not be malodorous.
The walls of the sukkah must be in place before the sechach is placed on top. The sechach must sufficiently cover the sukkah so that there is more shade than light, but should not block out the sky completely. The sukkah should not be built under a tree, roof or awning.

It is customary to decorate and beautify the sukkah, which is an excellent way of involving children in the holiday.

Dwelling in the Sukkah

During the week of Sukkot, the sukkah becomes one’s temporary dwelling and, therefore, weather permitting, everything that one would do in one’s house, such as eat, sleep or study, is done in the sukkah.

1) All meals must be eaten in the sukkah. Snacks, however, may be eaten outside the sukkah, but preferably not grains.
2) One who is ill is not obligated to sleep or eat in the sukkah.
3) One is not obligated to suffer through bad weather or to put oneself in danger to be in the sukkah.
4) When one eats a meal in the sukkah, one should make the following blessing:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu leishev ba’sukkah.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

Symbolism of the Sukkah

A) The sukkah represents the temporary dwellings of the Jew wandering in the wilderness.
B) The sukkah represents the Ananei HaKavod, the Clouds of Glory, in which G-d enveloped and protected the wandering nation after the Exodus from Egypt.
C) By moving out of our permanent domiciles, especially at the beginning of the rainy/cold season, Jews demonstrate their faith in G-d as provider and sustainer of all life.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Chol HaMoed

Chol HaMoed

Sukkot is a 7 day holiday. The first day (first two days outside of Israel) are Yamim Tovim – days which are kept like Sabbath (cooking and carrying, however, are permitted). The remaining days in between are known as Chol Hamoed – weekday of the festival.

The Interim Days

During Chol Hamoed, it is customary to continue the holiday spirit and avoid unnecessary work. Many people try to refrain from mundane chores such as laundry. Some people do not go to work and avoid shopping except for that which is essential for the holiday. The requirements to dwell in the sukkah and the mitzvah of the four species continue throughout Chol Hamoed. In synagogue, the Torah is read and Hallel (festive Psalms) and Mussaf (the additional service) are recited. In the synagogue, the Hoshana Service is performed after the Mussaf service on each day of Sukkot (including the first Yom Tov days).

This service commemorates part of the Temple Sukkot celebrations. Each morning of the holiday, after the water libation (described below), the priests would bring out a bundle of aravot (willow branches). The tall branches were placed upright against the altar. The shofar was then blown and special prayers, called hoshanot, were recited.
Today, after the daily mussaf service during sukkot, the Hoshana Service is commemorated. i) The ark is opened and one Torah scroll is brought to the bimah, where it is held until the end of the Hoshana. (This is not done on Shabbat.) ii) Holding the lulav set, the congregants circle the bimah once and responsively recite special prayers. (This is not done on Shabbat.)

 

Simchat Beit Hashoevah

Sukkot is considered the holiday on which G-d determines the water allotment for the year to come (where there will be rain and where there will be drought, etc.). During the time of the Temple, the week of Sukkot was highlighted by the water libation ceremony, in which water was poured over the altar after the morning sacrifice. The ceremony actually lasted all night and was known as the Simchat Beit Hashoevah, the Celebration of the House of the Drawing of Water.

a) After the Yom Tov, the Temple was set up for the Simchat Beit Hashoevah. Three balconies were created in the women’s section and the men would stand in a courtyard below, allowing more people to attend. Golden lamps were placed in the courtyard that gave off enough light to illuminate the entire city itself.
b) In the courtyard, men would dance and the Levites would play instruments and sing praises to G-d.
c) The kohanim, the priests, would then go to the spring of Gichon and draw the water to be used.

It is customary today, during the week of Sukkot, to attend or host a Simchat Beit Hashoevah celebration, generally held in the sukkah. While one does not mimic the actual water-libation ceremony, the joy of the holiday is the focus of these celebrations.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.