Based on ancient Jewish sages
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- Sukkot is a national Jewish liberation holiday, commemorating the transition of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt to liberty and sovereignty in the Land of Israel, which inspired the US Abolitionist movement. In addition, it memorializes the 40-year-wandering in the desert on the way to the Land of Israel, expressing gratitude for the harvest and for the ingathering of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
Sukkot is the 3rd Jewish pilgrimage holiday (following Passover and Shavou’ot/Pentecost), which highlights faith, reality-based-optimism, liberty from Egyptian bondage, can-do mentality and the defiance of odds.
- Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, (October 10-17, 2022) commemorates the Biblical Exodus. It derives its name from the first stop out of Egypt – the town of Sukkot – as documented in Exodus 13:20-22 and Numbers 33:3-5. Sukkot was also the name of Jacob’s first stop west of the Jordan River, upon returning to the Land of Israel from his 20-year-work for Laban in Aram (Genesis 33:17).
The construction of the Holy Tabernacle, during the Exodus, was launched on the first day of Sukkot (full moon).
Sukkot underscores the gradual transition from the spiritual state-of-mind during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to the mundane of the rest of the year, and from religious tenets of Judaism to the formation of the national, historic and geographical Jewish identity.
- The 7 days of Sukkot – which is celebrated in the 7th Jewish month, Tishrei – are dedicated to 7 supreme guests-in-spirit and notable care-takers (Ushpizin in Aramaic and Hebrew): principle-driven, national Jewish leaders, who were compassionate and brave shepherds, who initiated ground-breaking and game-changing initiatives: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. They were endowed with faith, reality-based-optimism, humility, principle-driven leadership, compassion, magnanimity, tenacity in the face of daunting odds and peace-through-strength.
- Sukkot features the following four species (Leviticus 23:39-41): 1 citron (representing King David, the author of Psalms), 1 palm branch (representing Joseph), 3 myrtle branches (representing the three Patriarchs) and 2 willow branches (representing Moses and Aharon, the role models of humility), which are bonded together, representing the unity-through-diversity of the Jewish people.
These species represent the agricultural regions of the Land of Israel: the southern Negev and Arava (palm), the slopes of the northern Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Mt. Carmel (myrtle), the streams of the central mountains of Judea and Samaria (willow) and the western coastal plain (citron).
They also represent four leadership prerequisites: solid backbone (palm branch), humility (willow), compassionate heart (citron) and penetrating eyes (myrtle).
The palm branch, an ancient symbol of victory, was featured in coins from the Maccabees’ era (from the 2nd century BC through the 1st century AD) and the Bar Kokhba rebellion (132-135 AD). According to the First Book of Maccabees, chapter 13, Simon the Maccabee celebrated the retaking of David’s Citadel in Jerusalem with drums, harps and palm branches.
- Traditionally, Sukkot is dedicated to the study of the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon, which highlights humility, morality, patience, learning from past mistakes, commemoration and historical perspective, family, friendship, long-term thinking, proper timing, realism and knowledge.
The late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest serving US Senator, often quoted Biblical verses, in general, and Ecclesiastes, in particular. For example, on November 7, 2008, upon retirement from the chairmanship of the most powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, he stated: “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).”
- Sukkot emphasizes humility as demonstrated by the seven-day-relocation from one’s permanent dwelling to the temporary, humble, wooden booth (Sukkah in Hebrew), which sheltered the people of Israel during the Exodus.
- Sukkot expresses the yearning for reality-driven universal peace, highlighting the Sukkah of Peace (Sukkat Shalom).