Rare Bear: SUKKOT

Today, Oct 2nd is the start of Sukkot, a week long holiday of Jewish Origin. It’s one of three special festivals the Jewish people were encouraged to attend in the Temple of Solomon.

It is in fact the Jewish Thanksgiving, marking the start of Harvest; giving of thanks for the fruit, and also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, or booths.

The Tabernacles or booths are built outdoors and are similar to the conditions under which the Israelites lived during the forty years of desert wandering.

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It’s a very colorful festival with squash, pumpkins, myrtle, palm and willow branches, citron, and baking displayed outside.  Sometimes it is on the lawn or porch but more often the decorations are housed in a booth. Much like the Canadian and American Thanksgiving, but perhaps a bit more colorful in my opinion.

The Biblical account says “…about six-hundred-thousand men,  on foot, besides children.   A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds, a great deal of livestock.”  (NKJ)

The journey began in Egypt (Ramses) and for a short time, ended at Succoth.  There, according to the Scriptural Record, they made cakes of Unleavened Bread. They did not have time to leaven the dough before they left Egypt.  

After the encampment at Succoth which lasted at least seven days, they moved on to Etham, at the edge of the Wilderness, which was to be their challenge for the next forty years.

Finally, they got to the promised land, and after forty years, they celebrated the Feast of Passover in the land of Canaan with unleavened bread and parched grain.  At that time, after the seven days, the Scriptural Record says “… the manna ceased to fall, and they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.”

The history of Sukkot began with the trek in the desert and continues through the centuries of Agricultural progress.  First, the booths were made for shelter and then for the men and women who worked in the fields to harvest the crops.  They needed and still need shelter. So the observance of Sukkot is two-fold; the historic march of 40 years, and the giving of thanks to God for harvest.

A sukkah is a form of a hut and the plural is sukkot. The Jewish neighborhoods are full of booths for the occasion.  The celebrations include the twirling of branches of the trees, and feasting and rejoicing. 

To my readers, I share some of the facts above from both Wikipedia and mostly from my knowledge.  Rev. Barry Kentner

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