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Tuesday 29 of November 2022

5 Kislev, 5783

Sukkot, Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, is celebrated during 7 days in Israel (from 15th to 22th of Tishrei), and 8 days in the Diaspora (to 23rd of Tishrei), 5 days after Yom Kippur. It is a festival of biblical origin that commemorates the hardships of the Jewish people during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from Egypt, as well as their material scarcity symbolized with the precept of dwelling in a provisional booth or sukkah.


In the Jewish calendar, there are three festivals with a common peculiarity, and these are: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. These festivals are known as shalosh regalim (the three Pilgrimage Festivals), because in the times of the Temple the Israelites living in the Kingdom of Judah would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. These three festivals, originally related to historical events, have also a close connection to the different harvest seasons. 
The lulav and the etrog have a central role in this cheerful feast, as well as the myrtle and the willow. Lulav is a Hebrew word that means “frond of the palm tree”, and alludes to a unique ceremonial object related to Sukkot festival. Etrog means lemon, and alludes to a fruit similar to the lemon used with the lulav on the Sukkoth ritual. The Rabbis established a correspondence between society and these four plants: there are wise and useful people; others can have a lot of knowledge but they lack human understanding; others may be kind but they don’t have intellectual skills, and finally, there are people who are only human beings. All together constitute a great family, everybody essential but nobody indispensable.
Sukkot is precisely the counterbalance of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is inside; Sukkoth is outside. On Yom Kippur we fast, while on Sukkot we celebrate. On Yom Kippur we pray; on Sukkot we build our strength and energy. On Yom Kippur we have a book on our hands; on Sukkot we hold the lulav and the etrog, that is, we hold the nature itself. On Yom Kippur we are serious and introspective; on Sukkot we are called to be joyful.


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