What is the Succoth Festival

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The Festival of Succoth (Sukkot) is also known as the ‘Festival of Booths’, ‘Feast of Tabernacles’, ‘Festival of the Harvest’ or as it is commonly referred to, the Jewish Thanksgiving. This Jewish festival celebrates the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the Sinai Desert, their faithfulness to Yahweh and the deliverance of their lives into the Promised Land. It is the third of three yearly “Pilgrims Festivals”(Shalosh Regalim) in the Hebrew Calendar. The Festival of Succoth is celebrated for 7 days by the Jews living within the boundaries of the present-day country of Israel, although many Jews living around the world celebrate only 2 official days of the full festival.

The Feast of Succoth takes place in the Fall

The Feast of Succoth takes place in the fall around harvest time for olives, grapes, and other fruits, on the 15th day of the Hebrew month, Tishri.

Succoth, succah (sukkot) means: the word Succoth/Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, meaning ‘booth’ or ‘hut’.

Jewish people build succah to eat, entertain, relax and sleep in for the festival, as a reminder of the past there came from and in celebration of their deliverance from the Exodus by Yahweh. The succah is like the humble temporary tents the Israelites lived in for 40 years in the Sinai Desert. Leviticus 23:33,34,41,42 –
“The Lord said to Moses,’ Say to the Israelites: On the 15th day of the 7th month the Lord’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for 7 days……Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for 7 days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the 7th month. Live in booths (Succoth) for 7 days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths, so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt, I am the Lord your God.'” NIV

Pilgrims Festival

It was considered a ‘Pilgrims Festival’ because in the time of the Temple in Jerusalem the Jews historically would gather and go to the Temple to celebrate the feast.

The observance and significance of this Festival can be understood from readings in the Mishnah, Tosefta and the Jerusalem Talmud.

There is a prophecy in the Book of Zechariah concerning the Succoth (Sukkot) in the messianic age to come:
Zech: 14: 16-17

“Then the survivors from all nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.” NIV

Jews Build Succah

Today many Jews build succah in their backyards or patios and decorate them with fruits and vegetables. They share meals with friends and family in the succah; many sleep there as well, while daily sharing special prayer and thanksgiving ceremonies, during the days the Festival of Succoth is celebrated. There are 3 laws pertaining to building the succah:

1. You may not build one under a tree
2. The majority of the roof must be covered and with kosher material
3. The walls of the succah should not move in the wind

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