Sukkot 2019 will begin in the evening of Sunday, October 13th and ends in the evening of Sunday, October 20th.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20
We are in the midst of celebrating the 7-day holiday of Sukkot, the Jewish “Harvest Festival”. After all the fasting and atoning and spiritual soul-searching we are supposed to do during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot which comes just three days after Yom Kippur, is a time of great joy and exuberance. We build temporary houses, sukkahs, (which translates to ‘booth’ or ‘hut’) to commemorate the shelters the Jews lived in during the 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus. They also symbolize the “Clouds of Glory” that protected them during their journey. Another aspect of these ‘dwellings’ is they recall the temporary shacks that farmers built in the fields and lived in during the harvest. We are commanded to “dwell” in the sukkah for the duration of the holiday. The sukkah takes many forms; it can have four walls, three walls, or two and a half walls. The walls can be made of wood, cloth, plastic, grass mats, almost anything. The roof, however needs to be covered with branches, palm fronds, bamboo mats, corn stalks, pine boughs; there is a lot of leeway here too. But the roof cannot be nailed down, there must be spaces enough to see the sky and it must be of plant origin; no visqueen or plywood allowed. The whole point is that the sukkah is fragile, impermanent, and transitory. The idea is that even though we are removed from the comfort and protection of our concrete walls and shingled roofs, we are still under god’s protection wherever we are.
The holiday is fraught with symbols and symbolism beyond the sukkah itself. Here is the lulav, made from a palm shoot, a bunch of brook-willow leaves and a bunch of myrtle leaves bound together.
EVENING SERVICE FOR SUKKOT – Nightly celebration in an individual family or communal Sukkah
Leader: Who is like unto You, Yahweh, among the mighty ones, glorious in holiness, awesome in praises, doing wonders, blessed are You, Yahweh. May Your Great Name be blessed forever and for all eternity. Blessed are You, Yahweh, king of the Universe who has commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.
Reader: May it be Your Will, O Yahweh, God of our fathers, to cause Your divine Ruach to dwell in our midst. Spread over us Your shelter of Shalom, and encircle us with Your majestic glory. We thank You for Your presence with us as Y’shua said, “where two or more are gathered in My Name, there I am in the midst of them.” Keep us mindful and watching for the hour of Your return, when we shall tabernacle with you forever in Your Holy City, the New Jerusalem.
Leader: Blessed, glorified, exalted and to be praised, uplifted, honored, adored and extolled be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He above all blessings and hymns, praises and consolations which we utter, Amen. May there be peace in the world, and say Amen
Hear, O Israel, Yahweh our God is One. Bless His Glorious Name forever, whose kingdom is forever and ever.
Day 1: Leviticus 23:33-38; Numbers 29:12-16
Day 2: Leviticus 23:38-44; Exodus 23:14-17
Day 3: Deuteronomy 16:13-17; 31:10-13
Day 4: 1 Chronicles 15: 1-3, 25-28; 16: 1-6
Day 5: Nehemiah 8:13-18; Psalm 100: 1-5
Day 6: Psalm 132: 7-18
Day 7: Isaiah 2: 2-4; 4: 2-6; Psalm 135: 1-4, 19-21