Succot The Jewish Holiday Essay Research Paper

Succot: The Jewish Holiday Essay, Research Paper

Succot: The Jewish Holiday

After the Exodus from slavery in Egypt, the wandering Jews lived in tents

or booths, called Succots. They were pitched wherever they happened to stop for

the night. Today it is called the Succot the festival of booths remembering both

the ancient agricultural booths and those of the Exodus. The harvest festival of

thanksgiving, Succot, begins five days after Yom Kippur, and lasts for eight

days. The first two days are the most holy, during which most Jews do not work.

The families construct the booths and decorate it with branches, and leaves,

fruits, and other designs. The roof is covered lightly, so the stars and the sky

can still be seen. Most Jewish families eat all their meals in the Succot, while

some even sleep in them.

During the Succot festival, thanks are given for all growing plants by using

four plants which are symbolic of all the rest. These four plants also represent

the Jewish people. The Etrog, or the citrus fruit, stands for the people who are

educated in the Torah and who do good deeds. The Lulav, or branch of the date

palm, stands for the Jewish people who have knowledge but no good deeds. The

Hadas,or myrtle, symbolizes the people who do good deeds, but are not educated.

The Aravah, or willow, stands for the people who have no good deeds and no

education. These plants are carried around the synagogue in a procession while

prayers are recited for blessings on the land and fruit of Israel. In biblical

times, the willow, the palm, and the Etrog were used in decorating the Succot.

At the end of the Autum harvest, on the fifteenth day of Tishri

(September-October) Succot is celebrated. It is believed that the festival

originated with the ancient Canaanite celebration after the grape harvest at the

end of the annual dry season. During this time rites were performed to incourage

the rains. Boughs of fruit trees and evergreens were made into little booths

which the early Jewish farmers lived during the festival.

The last day of Succot is called Simhat Torah. It means the “rejoicing of

the Torah.” On this day, the reading of the Torah is completed, and is then

immidiately begun again. This symbolizes the fact that the study of the Torah

has no beginning and no end. Children are given the honor of being called to

read the Torah along side their elders. Generally only adults are called up to

the Torah. In a series of seven processions around the synagogue,called Hakafot,

the rabbi leads the congregation carrying the Torah. The procession goes seven

times around in honor of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.