Sukkot 2020 – Coming together while apart
May this season truly be z’man simchateinu, a time of our joy.
On Friday night, the weeklong holiday of Sukkot begins. Sukkot is the third of 3 pilgrimage/harvest holidays in the Jewish tradition (Passover and Shavuot are the other two). The symbolism of the hut built to celebrate this holiday has a few interpretations. First is to commemorate the temporary shelter used by the Israelites during their travels in Egypt (Chabad suggests, “some say this refers to the miraculous clouds of glory that shielded [them] from the desert sun, while others say it refers to the tents in which they dwelled for their 40-year trek through the Sinai desert”). Another interpretation is it celebrates the temporary huts farmers would build in their fields as they were harvesting grain so they wouldn’t have to spend all day trekking back and forth to the house.
Jews are commanded to “dwell” in the sukkah, to eat their meals, shake the lulav and etrog (four species–details here AND recipes for what to do with the etrog after the holiday), some even sleep outdoors! This year, as our neighbors are yet again evacuating their houses due to fires, these temporary homes are even more symbolic of the fragility of life and the blessings of shelter.
Director of Experiential Education