Sukkot: The Feast of Booths

By Rabbi Jack Zimmerman,
Staff Evangelist at Jewish Voice

This year, the Jewish holiday known as Sukkot begins at sundown, Wednesday, September 22.

As in every year, it’s a time of rejoicing. Why? Because it was at this time in ancient Israel when the harvest season was over that God had provided more than enough food for the people to survive. Now it was time to go up to Jerusalem and give thanks to Him in worship at the Temple!

In fact, many Jews today celebrate this holiday by building their own booth, or sukkah, a four-sided, temporary structure; with palm branches for the open roof, through which the night sky is visible, and sometimes canvas for the walls For the seven days of this holiday, many observant families eat their meals there, and others go so far as to sleep in it, too.

Leviticus 23 tells us how the holiday was observed in biblical times. The Lord tells Moses in verses 33-36*, “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to ADONAI. On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work.'”

You may know Sukkot as the “Feast of Tabernacles.” Some Bible translations may even use it, however, Sukkah actually means “booth,” not tabernacle. The Hebrew word for tabernacle is mishkan, which is not found in this portion of text.

*Bible reference from CJB.

To read more of Jack’s article on Sukkot, check out our September/October Jewish Voice Today (flip to page 10).

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