This feast is also known as the “Feast of Tabernacles.” This is the most enjoyable and festive of all Israel's feasts. It is mentioned in Scripture more than any of the other feasts. This feast is recorded in Leviticus 23:33–44. It has a twofold purpose. It was to bring in the latter harvest, the Jewish "Thanksgiving", and the command to dwell in booths. It is also known as "Zman Simkhatenu" (“the time of our rejoicing”).
One word that can summarize this feast is habitation. Traditional Jewish observance of Sukkot centers on the building of a sukkah (booth or hut) and the blessing of the Lulav (palm branch) with the Etrog (a citrus fruit from Israel). It is believed that the birth of Yeshua took place on Sukkot and evidence pointed out by theologians.
Tabernacles/Sukkot points to the future day when the Messiah sets up his messianic kingdom and Tabernacles or dwells among men, John in his vision of Revelation gives us the reality of Sukkot as recorded in Revelation 21:1 –3.
From Fasting to Feasting: Celebrating Wholeness on Sukkot
By: Kiril Kuyumdzhiev
On Yom Kippur we leave this world and experience union with G-d through transcending nature and abstaining from physical pleasures – (in other words: afflicting our souls).
However, on Sukkot we experience union with G-d in nature and through physical pleasures. This is the journey of holiness. The perfect harmony of wholeness is achieved when we reach a level of where no conflict occurs between the physical and the spiritual, the natural and the supernatural, the eternal and the temporary. This harmony is clearly expressed trough the commandment of dwelling in Sukkah for 7 days.
In the book of Leviticus 23 is written:
33 Adonai said to Moshe, 34 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkotfor seven days to Adonai. 35 On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. 36 For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai ; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work.
37 “‘These are the designated times of Adonai that you are to proclaim as holy convocations and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai — a burnt offering, a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, each on its own day — 38 besides the Shabbats of Adonai, your gifts, all your vows and all your voluntary offerings that you give to Adonai.
39 “‘But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to observe the festival of Adonai seven days; the first day is to be a complete rest and the eighth day is to be a complete rest. 40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate in the presence of Adonai your God for seven days. 41 You are to observe it as a feast to Adonai seven days in the year; it is a permanent regulation, generation after generation; keep it in the seventh month. 42 You are to live in sukkotfor seven days; every citizen of Isra’el is to live in a sukkah, 43 so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Isra’el live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God.’”
The meaning of the feast of Sukkot cannot be expressed in a theological study written on a piece of paper, but rather than in practice on the “field”(in a Sukkah).
The Sukkah teaches us that we are always and completely one with G-d even when we are tending to our mundane needs of eating and sleeping.
Our choice is to realize this truth and celebrate it.
We often mistakenly think that we know what is best for us, rather than trusting in G-D. This lesson is to sync within our minds especially after the High Holiday season, just before we return to the challenges of our everyday lives.
Therefore, on Sukkot, as we step into the new year, we protect ourselves from returning to our wrongdoings of the past year by embracing the message of the sukkah (dwelling) -in G-d we trust and before Him we are humbled.
To me Humbleness is the perfect partner of righteousness and without it our walk in the Faith will be meaningless and in vain.
Sukkot teaches us that we can find security even in the temporal and transient when we focus our attention on serving G-d here and now.
The Joyful spirit of Sukkot sets us off on the right foot into the new year by teaching us how to protect ourselves from sadness and evil: trust in G-d, humble ourselves before Him and only concern ourselves with fulfilling His commandments - here and now.
My encouragement to all my brothers and sisters is:
Start with a part time “Sukkoting” (if never done it before), experience the taste of it, prepare and engage in it as a full time “Sukkoter” in the presence of the King…for times to come…but just start, here and now…A great feast has been set before your thirsty soul – all you have to do is to show up.
Just Do It! Here and Now!
Hoshanah Rabbah / Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah
By: Lorella Gilbert/ Tom Flores
Is the seventh day of Sukkot which features seven circles around the bima, with the Four Species in hand. The “The Great Save Us” as it is known has a procession that culminates with the beating of the willow branch. Hoshana Rabba is known as the day of the final sealing of judgment which began on Rosh Hashanah. The high priest would lead a procession to the pool of Siloam fill the golden pitcher with water and return to courtyard of the temple. He would pour out the water and people would wave the lulav and sing Psalm 118 23-26.
This is the day that John, Yeshua’s disciple spoke about: John 7: 37-39
37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now He said this about the Ruach, whom those who trusted in Him were going to receive; for the Ruach was not yet given, since Yeshua was not yet glorified.
Shemeni Atzeret- Eighth day of assembly. This is a time to cease the busy activity of the holiday season and simply savor the special relationship with the Almighty before heading out into the long winter season.
Then, the earliest rabbinic reference to Shemini Atzeret calls it yom tov aharon shel ha-hag, the last day of the festival. The Talmud (Taanit 20b-31a), however, declares, "The eighth day is a festival in its own right." At the same time, the Talmud (Taanit 28b) attempts to distinguish it from Sukkot, as there are 70 temple sacrificesgiven throughout Sukkot, compared to only one given on Shemini Atzeret. The inherent problem is that no one really knows exactly what atzeret means. Possibly it comes from the word atzar, meaning "stop," thus implies that we are to refrain from work. On the other hand, atzeret may also be defined by its textual context, which implies thatit is some sort of deliberate extension of the prior seven days. It is an assembly as mentioned in the following verse.
On the eighth day you shall hold a solemn gathering (שְּׁמִינִ֔י עֲצֶ֖רֶת)you shall not work at your occupations.
Traditionally, this is a 2 day event in the diaspora making it congruent with Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) celebrations in which the scroll is ceremoniously paraded 7 times and rolled back to begin a new Torah cycle for the year. It is during this time that prayers for rain are lifted for a blessing for Israel and the upcoming harvest of the spring. Scriptures tells us that the world (Zechariah 14:8) is also judged by the amount of rainfall given the following year, so we seek HIS blessings. This is a time of reflection as it symbolizes a time that is past the Messianic kingdom to come (עוֹלָם הַבָּא) versus the eternal state (נצח) or “forever” of Revelation 21-22 when everything will be made new!
Simchat Torah-We celebrate the completion and new beginning of the annual Torah reading cycle. In the synagogue all Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark. Scrolls are then rolled back to the beginning and a small portion is read in anticipation of the new Torah cycle readings.