Sukkot Laws: A Quick Survey

I’ll be sharing a cornucopia of plentiful Sukkot delights over the next 8 days or so. I do hope you keep the Feast in love with family and friends. If you are Jewish and have not discovered the joys of this most merry aspect of your heritage, I hope to be an encouragement. If you are a Christian and wish to join with Israel in some aspects of these holidays, I hope to be a source of education and information. Blessings and peace to you and yours this Sukkot holiday.

What follows is a quick summary of the days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, the laws of the Sukkah, and the laws of the Lulav and Etrog.

The Days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah
According to tradition, the Sukkah should be built the day after Yom Kippur, even if it is the eve of the Sabbath. This is based on a principle that when it is possible to fulfill a mitzvah, one should not delay (cf. Isaac Klein, A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, p. 160).

The four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot are festive. Tachanun is not recited in the morning prayers. Fasting is prohibited (Klein, p. 160). Yet on the afternoon leading up to Sukkot one should refrain from eating in order to have a healthy appetite at the feast.

The first day of Sukkot is a Yom Tov. Food may be prepared but in every other respect it is a Sabbath. The eighth day, the first day after Sukkot, known as Shemini Atzeret, is also a Yom Tov.

The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah. There are various traditions which extend the days of judgment from Yom Kippur until Hoshana Rabbah. In many communities a ritual of beating five willow wands on the ground is part of the worship of Hoshana Rabbah.

The day after Sukkot is Shemini Atzeret, which is a Yom Tov. Meals are still eaten in the Sukkah. The day after Shemini Atzeret is Simchat Torah, a celebration of the Torah. Synagogue services on Simchat Torah involve a parade with Torah scrolls and reading both the end and the beginning of the scroll.

Laws of the Sukkah
The Sukkah should be built on the day after Yom Kippur. Every man is traditionally obligated (in some traditions women also) to participate in the building and decorating. It is a mitzvah to beautify the Sukkah to increase the joy of the festival. The walls should be sturdy enough not to be blown over by wind and should be whole enough to keep wind from blowing out the candles on the table. It is advisable to build a removable or hinged roof to protect the Sukkah in the rain, which should be removed when it is not raining. The normal roof of the Sukkah should consist of cut branches through which the occupants can see the stars at night. The Sukkah should provide more shade than sunlight. One should dine and, weather permitting, sleep in the Sukkah.

Laws of the Lulav and Etrog
The lulav and accompanying branches should be fresh, not dry. The etrog should be chosen for beauty. Hold the lulav wand in the right hand with the palm spine facing you and the etrog in the left hand. The cut stalk side of the etrog should be facing down and the protruding end facing up. Recite the blessing on taking the palm branch with the etrog upside down and then right it. After the blessing, wave the lulav and etrog east, south, west, north, up, and down. It is a common custom to circle the Torah reading table each day with the lulav and etrog adding one circuit each day (dating back to Temple times when the worshipper circled the altar).

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Sukkot Laws: A Quick Survey

  1. Anonymous says:

    Derek,

    On my blog, you indicated earlier this evening that you’ve turned over a new leaf and are no longer censoring ideas merely because they conflict with your own. This comment will be a test case for your claim.

    I wish you, together with all gentiles, a healthy and successful upcoming week.

    For my people, the Jews, this is a very special time of the year. Speaking to the Jews specifically, G-d called it the “time of your happiness”, and He commanded the Jews “be happy in your holiday”. It must be pointed out that this was not a general statement to everyone. It was a private message from G-d to His chosen people. G-d was particular to summon the Jews out of Egypt to a remote desert locale to have an audience with Him. Rather than speak to all of mankind directly, G-d performed signs and wonders to miraculously extrude one nation out of the midst of another in a fashion without precedent or parallel in all of human history. So too was His communique to the Jews unique in human history: never before or since has prophecy occurred on a national basis. This was in part to make clear to everyone that G-d’s orders with respect to the Festival of Booths do not pertain to anyone who is not a part of the Jewish people.

    Therefore, if any Jew is so unfortunately lost as to be searching for information about their Jewish holidays from a Christian missionary like you, I would respectfully request that you direct him or her to consult with an actual rabbi, or at the very least a Jew religiously knowledgeable enough not to abrogate the first commandment by worshiping Jesus.

    I want to emphasize that, in spite of my expectation that you will take this comment as an enormous blow to your sense that you’re a Jew and a rabbi, I do not mean to attack you. I think you’re confused, but genuine. I know that your counter-Jewish literature has indoctrinated you with a “grafted in” construct, that has no basis in the Jewish Bible. And if you have real aspirations to become a Jew, I’m sure you realize that a path for conversion is available, regardless of your ethnic background–though I’m certainly not pushing it at you. Obviously, that path, as with the path of a righteous gentile, would require you to forsake your fealty to a trinitarian man/god. But the bottom line is, this is my holiday, and, at least as things stand now, it is not yours. So, have a nice regular week, and please stop misinforming my people about their religion and your identity. Thank you.

    • sheepra says:

      Doesn’t Zechariah 14:16-17 belie your concept of Sukkot as ‘your’ holiday and not that of the rest of the nations? If you could overcome the blindness propehesied in your own Scriptures to see the Messiah has come and is returning yet again, you would understand the validity of being ‘grafted in’. The Zechariah verses help to prove that Messiah was propehesied to graft all those who would recognise Him and embrace His Torah in, and this has happened, like so many other prophecies pointing to Master Yahusha.
      Ponder the prodigal son and his disappointment & jealosy in the return of his brother to discover an interesting analogy!
      Praying for the veils to be lifted!
      Blessed, healthy, prosperous & free be,
      B’Shem Yahusha,
      with love & shalom from Shalom Shick

      • Anonymous says:

        You wrote: “If you could overcome the blindness…”.

        But you weirdly juxtaposed that comment with your “grafted in” doozie, a formulation unknown in the Jewish Bible, leading us to wonder when you had your last vision check.

      • sheepra says:

        You failed to address the meat of my comment entirely.
        Do you not get that Zechariah is talking about how the nations will be expected to celebrate Sukkot when Yah’s Kingdom has at last been established in Jerusalem? Doesn’t that sound a bit like they may have been grafted in to the point of being expected to follow His Torah?
        You would understand the concept of being grafted in if you actually understood that the Jewish Bible is not only for the Jews, but for everyone who loves the Father YHVH. And, of course, there is more to the Scriptures since Yahusha came on the scene, but you have yet to accept this.
        The Jews have done a great job of preserving Torah, while believers in Yahusha have continued to preserve that Truth. You may want to wake up and notice that the Jews are beginning, in greater numbers daily, to join with what very well may be Ephraim as well as the Grafted In, to form the one stick referenced in Ezekiel. This prophecy is coming to pass before our eyes, indicative of end times predicted in Daniel and Revelation.
        Blessings with love,
        Shalom

      • Anonymous says:

        You asked “Doesn’t that sound a bit like…?”

        That formulation sounds more than a bit to me like a fishing expedition aimed at creatively foraging for a foothold for pre-ordained “new testament” conclusions rather than a straight reading of G-d’s holy text in the Jewish Bible. Given that, and my own commitment to the fidelity of the revelation at Sinai, I can’t engage with your “doesn’t that sound a bit like…”.

        I would point out to you, though, that the Jewish tradition from Sinai, which does not include any of your Christian “grafting in” theology, does include a path for conversion for those gentiles who really are interested in joining with the Jewish people in their eternal covenant with the G-d of Israel.

      • sheepra says:

        Here’s another tidbit that made me think of you, dear Anonymous:
        2 Chronicles 32-33
        32 Moreover concerning the foreigner, who is not of your people Yisra’el, when he shall come from a far country for your great name’s sake, and your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm; when they shall come and pray toward this house: 33 then hear from heaven, even from your dwelling-place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you for; that all the peoples of the eretz may know your name, and fear you, as does your people Yisra’el, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by your name.

        Solomon sure knew how to pray! And here we are: the foreigners knowing His Name and fearing Him by following His Torah. And since I feel pretty sure Shlomo had His Ear, I reckon He is going to even listen to us when we are calling upon Him. Imagine that! HalleluYah, my brother! See, we can both love Him!
        Blessings with love,
        Shalom

  2. Anonymous (scared-hiding-insecure):

    In the spirit of humor and fun, I’ll leave your comment up. It truly deserves to be deleted for the following reasons:

    (1) It is condescending. You assume a greater knowledge of Judaism than us “poor, confused” people. Do you realize how you sound?

    (2) It is deliberately insulting. You don’t agree with my status and in a hostile manner you wish to publicly comment on it.

    (3) You are too afraid to use your name. I’m Derek Leman and my cell is 770.378.4673. What are you afraid of?

    (4) It is xenophobic. So, your position is that all Christians are guilty of avodah zara? Most Jews would disagree with you. You’re a fundamentalist out of touch with reality.

    (5) You did not meet the standards I set out for you on your blog, which was to engage in conversation agreeably (respectfully).

    Is this tactic something you hope will work for you? Did you think it would convert me into a Jesus-denying Noahide? Did you even make an effort to be compelling? How is this different than a Christian missionary (which I am not) telling you, “God doesn’t listen to Jews; believe in Jesus or go to hell”?

    Derek “not afraid to say my name” Leman

    • Anonymous says:

      Derek,

      Your introductory comment, above, clarifies you’re an unrepentant censor, and a short stroll down memory lane will illustrate for us that the tool of your trade is universally the technique of advocates of intellectually indefensible philosophical programs: Stalin, Hitler, Mau. These are the propaganda artists infamously associated with your kneejerk penchant to silence debate.

      I’ll address your points one at a time.

      1. It is not condescending to recognize that my knowledge of Judaism surpasses yours; that much is obvious. I make no value judgement about you as a person in your abject misunderstanding of my religion, but I do admit that such is the case.

      2. As I expressly indicated in my comment above, it is specifically not my intention to insult you. Rather, the point of my publicizing the error in your Jewish bona fides claims is for the benefit of Jewish readers here, who must not be misled into believing that you are a qualified source for expert information about Judaism when in fact you are a gentile Christian missionary.

      3. I am “afraid” to use my name in online religion debates in the same sense that I am afraid to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only are my personal details utterly irrelevant to the subject of the profound differences between Judaism and Christianity, but going public could result in adverse consequences since the religion I am advocating is one accepted by only a tiny minority (your religious group, which is in the majority in the Western world, has a history of violent and other repression of my co-religionists). I find your insistence on knowing my name to be a juvenile and transparent attempt to change the topic. Furthermore, I find your own swaggering eagerness to publish your personal contact information together with your controversial beliefs on the Internet to be a sign of the state of your mental health.

      5. I am not xenophobic. I love all of G-d’s creations, including all gentiles, including you. And G-d of course loves you too. But no matter how much I love you, that doesn’t change the fact that G-d has a chosen people and that He gave certain holidays to them that He didn’t give to you, just as you have holidays that don’t figure into my calendar. I don’t disparage you as an “out of touch” “fundamentalist” over this, as you do me, but that goes to point number 5.

      5. You failed to live up to your own standards by being disagreeable toward me. If anything I’ve written has been disagreeable to you and it wasn’t merely a recitation of a fact that you’d been hiding to the detriment of Jews in your audience, then I am truly sorry.

      I want you to know that I’ve not come here to “convert” you, or to “compel” you into seeing things my way religiously. I merely want to ensure that your audience knows who you really are and from whence your ideology hails. Beyond that, I wish you well with whatever religious direction you personally choose to go in; I just don’t want you misinforming Jews. It’s that simple.

    • Derek,

      Great reply, my friend.

      -Judah

  3. Anonymous:

    Do you feel better now? Did you do your mitzvah? And what good does it do? Shall you go to the blogs of all the religions you disagree with and assert your superiority?

    Who has a deep-seated need to assert their superiority but someone who is at least a tad insecure?

    Derek Leman

  4. danbenzvi says:

    Derek,

    Don’t let this flake bother you. He tried this on my blog and i did not let his stupid comments go through.

    • Anonymous says:

      Derek,

      You stated your policy is that a comment “truly deserves to be deleted for the following reasons:
      (1) It is condescending.
      (2) It is deliberately insulting.”

      You also put your name behind a policy of censoring comments that “did not meet the standards” you set out “to engage in conversation agreeably (respectfully).”

      Now that “danbenzvi” has called me a “flake” and my comment “stupid”, we are watching you to see if you’re true to your word.

  5. Baron Jet Jaguar says:

    Derek,

    As always I am glad to see you take the high-ground on these wannabe bloggers who troll on your blog to prop up their flaccid discourse. Of course it is always sad that someone like Anonymous see that he has all the unrealistic hopes of a schmendrick for his blog.

    Great post on Sukkot.

    The Baron

  6. Hey, Anonymous:

    It’s only fair, if I let your comment stand to let Dan’s stand as well.

    I’m glad I know a lot of well-adjusted, personable, secure, and spiritual Orthodox Jews. I’d hate to judge the Orthodox community by your example.

  7. Judah and Baron Jet Jaguar:

    Thanks.

  8. sheepra says:

    Dear Brother Anonymous,
    It is sad that you refuse to address a point when it is salient by merely grandstanding on your Jewishness!
    Here is a little blurb that made me think of you from JewFaq.org with an interesting statement about the rabbinical perspective on whose holiday Sukkot is:
    Rabbinic literature explains the holiday this way: our Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day. Another related explanation: Sukkot is a holiday intended for ALL of mankind, but when Sukkot is over, the Creator invites the Jewish people to stay for an extra day, for a more intimate celebration.
    Blessings with love,
    Shalom Shick

    • Anonymous says:

      Shalom Shick,

      You seem to be well read in the Jewish literature, even intermingling Hebrew words and names like “eretz” and “Shlomo” randomly into the English scriptures you quote, presumably to establish your linguistic sophistication in those documents, which I for one do not doubt.

      And yet in your postings you seem to have completely missed the detailed traditional rabbinic understanding of how gentiles will observe the Festival of Booths in the messianic era….

      • sheepra says:

        I concern myself primarily with the Words of the Father. Yahusha taught us that man’s laws are not to be put above the Father’s, which makes sense because Rabbis are not gods, and certainly are not above YHVH. Further, Rabbi Yahusha and the Renewed Covenant both predate most rabbinic writings.
        Blessings with love,
        Shalom

  9. This comes some …. 4 years later…. I am a gentile of the worst kind, yet a believer in the promises of YHWH. I am also, or would like to believe myself to be Christian though I differ from mainstream Christianity in the view and interpretation of the holy scripture.

    Firstly I would like to thank all the participants who have made and left their comments for through your arguments and comments I have learnt a great deal and you surely have contributed to the furtherance of my enlightenment.

    You see Anonymous is right. The time not yet come for us gentiles to celebrate Tabernacles (Sukkot). The reason for this is simply found in the text and context of Zacharia 14 which was quoted by Sheepra. When we are to interpret the word of YHWH (Tora or other) we should interpret it in its context. Yes Jesus/ Yahusha has come and has also ascended into heaven from where he shall return. Yet Zacharia refers to the a time yet to come – Yehusha/ Jesus sitting as supreme ruler in the temple for all times/ eternity. That is after the all the nations shall be gathered against Israel and the Jews be taken into captivity again. This event will then trigger the zeal of YHWH who will then again fight for his beloved people. The mount of Olives shall be parted in four directions and a great valley shall in its place (this has not yet happened).

    Then shall Yahusha/ Jesus return and only then shall it be required of all nations / families of the earth to send their representatives to worship before him and they be required to keep Sukkot/ Tabernacles.

    Jesus/ Yahusha warns us as to how we are to interpret the scripture in Mathew 7:
    {7:13} Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate,
    and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many
    there be which go in thereat: {7:14} Because strait [is] the
    gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and
    few there be that find it. (King James Version)

    Meaning: We should follow the narrow ambit of interpretation and not the wider/ broader ambit of interpretation of the word of YHWH – Old / New Testament (Torah) – (what it says is what it means should be our policy).

    I have come across your posts as I am myself struggling with this matter as it my desire to correctly worship Jesus/Yahusha in the proper and fitting way. It pains me that I am disallowed from participation on grounds of my gentile disposition, but I have accepted it and have the hope that one day upon the return of the Messiah I will be allowed.

    To Sheepra I would like to say the following:
    When we talk about the covenant that Jesus/ Yahusha establishes, we should be careful as to which covenant we invoke. We should be invoking the “New Covenant” in terms of Jeremiah 31:31-34 31 (“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”)as it is usually done for this covenant has not yet been concluded. However, the covenant that we should be invoking is the covenant i.t.o. Isaiah 42:6-7 (Isaiah 42:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

    6 “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
    And will hold Your hand;
    I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
    As a light to the Gentiles,
    7 To open blind eyes,
    To bring out prisoners from the prison,
    Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.

    If we do invoke the covenant i.t.o. Jer.31:31 we exclude all Gentiles and our faith is without cause or ground for this covenant explicitly exclude the gentiles and only include the houses of Israel and Judah. The covenant in terms of Isaiah 26: 6-7 is inclusively of the gentiles as well as the people (Israel).

    Furthermore, many a person within the United States of America do not know their true identity, many believe themselves as to be gentiles whereas they are in fact the sons and daughters of Israel- the houses other than the houses of Judah. Please make sure of your individual identity as this may surprise you.

    Greetings/ Shalom

  10. The reply should state …. Should we invoke the “New Covenant” in terms of Jeremiah 31:31-34 31

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