Meaning ‘booths’ or ‘huts’, Sukkos is a period in which we are required to sleep and eat in the Sukkah and make it our home for the duration of the holiday. It commemorates the miraculous protection Hashem provided after the Exodus from Egypt, and as one of the Shalosh Regalim, it celebrates the gathering of the yearly harvest.
Beginning just five days after Yom Kippur, it is encouraged to start building the Sukkah as soon as the fast has concluded. Consisting of a structure of at least three sides and a roof made of thatch or branches which allow us to see the stars, the sukkah is a central symbol of the Yom Tov. The sukkah resembles the flimsy huts in which the Jewish people had to dwell for 40 years in the desert after their exodus from Egypt.
For the duration of Sukkos, the sukkah is regarded as our home and we aim to spend as much time in it as possible. At the very minimum, we aim to eat most meals in it, particularly on the first two nights of the Yom Tov. Some men even elect to sleep in the Sukkah.
On the first and last two days of the Yom Tov work is forbidden, we light candles in the evening, and celebrate with meals, just as on Shabbat. During the intermediate days, one is allowed to continue with their usual activities with few restrictions on daily life. Nevertheless, we still try to avoid going to work if possible, writing and doing laundry, but it is not forbidden.
On Sukkos, we take an esrog and assemble a lulav, hadassim and aravos which are then shaken together in 6 directions; North, east, south, west, up and down on every day of the holiday. Each of the four species of the arbah minim relates to a particular body-part. The esrog refers to the heart, the lulav represents the backbone, Hadassim symbolises the eyes, and the aravos corresponds to the lips. These allow us to serve God through prayer, enlightenment and wisdom of the heart.
Hallel is recited in Shacharis on every day of Sukkos, and the arbah minim is waved during these prayers. The lulav and etrog are then paraded around the Bimah while the men daven Hosha’anos. On the 7th day of Sukkos, a day known as Hoshanah Rabbah, the arbah minim are held and the Bimah is circled seven times while a lengthier version of Hosha’anos are recited. It is also traditional to beat the aravos on the ground on this day.
Following seven days of Sukkos, the last 2 days of the holiday are Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. On Simchas Torah we celebrate the annual completion of the reading of the Torah and we immediately begin the cycle again. To commemorate this occasion the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and we dance, sing and rejoice and sweets are distributed to children.
From everyone at Kosher Kingdom we wish you a chag sameach!