Parashat of the week – The holiday of Sukkot: Leviticus 22 and 23

Week of 9/29/23

We are almost at the end of Deuteronomy, but our Torah reading cycleis interrupted by the great festival of Sukkot, the harvest holiday. In Exodus it is called the ‘feast of ingathering,’ and in Rabbinic literature it is referred to as  “the Feast.” Technically the holiday has two parts: the first seven days are “sukkot’ proper, and the eighth day is ‘atzeret.’ So later the atzeret holiday became known as “Simchat Torah.” 

In Leviticus, Chapter 23, we find the famous calendar of holy days for our biblical faith. The Torah teaches that on the 15th day of Tishri, is the feast of tabernacles that lasts seven days. We take the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palms, boughs of myrtles, and willows of the brook, and “you shall rejoice before the Lord for seven days.”

That is the description of the lulav and etrog, and the Torah adds, you shall dwell in the booth for seven days. Why do we need a sukkah? Because the Torah reminds us that when God brought us forth from Egypt, we dwelt in booths in the wilderness. We are building our sukkah this Friday morning, and all are invited to  join us for the construction of the sukkah. We will sing and dance Friday night during our Shabbat services.

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