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The Feast Of Booths: The Holiday Of Jewish Huts
Sukkot commemorates the security that God provided for our ancestors at their most vulnerable time. God led them through the vast wilderness, and they slept in huts under the protection of His cloud. But how can we connect to Sukkot today, when for many of us our lives seem so secure?
The Meaning of Sukkot: Why On Earth Would We Celebrate Sleeping In Huts?
Sukkot is the festival of 'huts' or temporary dwellings, where we eat special meals for seven days and often sleep in makeshift huts outside. On a deeper level, Sukkot celebrates the security God provided for our ancestors in the least secure of places.
When the Israelite people left Egypt to begin their journey to the Promised Land, they were a new entity. They had been slaves for generations, and suddenly they were independent, with no experience fending for themselves. They must have been terrified, as they wandered, completely vulnerable, into the wilderness.
Yet, through God’s protection, the Israelites were insulated from the harshness of the trek. They received all the sustenance they needed, their clothes never wore, and they slept in protected huts, also called sukkot, without fear of threats like snakes or scorpions. While they traveled through the terrain, God led them with a great cloud, ensuring they would never be lost.
The Talmud records two opinions about what we commemorate on Sukkot – does Sukkot commemorate the huts we slept in, or does it commemorate the heavenly cloud that led us through the wilderness? Either way, the message is the same: God defended the defenseless, and nurtured the development of his fledgling people during their greatest time of need. Sukkot shows God’s love for us, when we were at our most vulnerable.
Today, Jews commemorate Sukkot by moving into huts of their own. We also shake the four species – the lulav, etrog, hadas, and aravot – and praise God for the many miracles he performs for us.
But it seems strange that Sukkot is celebrated so many months after Pesach, when the Israelites first entered the wilderness. And what makes Sukkot meaningful today, when for many of us our lives seem so secure? The videos and guides above tackle some of these big questions.