Thursday, 18 September 2014
A sukkah is a structure consisting of a roof made of organic material which has been disconnected from the ground (the s'chach). A sukkah must have 3 walls. It should be at least three feet tall, and be positioned so that all or part of its roof is open to the sky (only the part which is under the sky is kosher.)
The holiday lasts seven days (eight in the diaspora). The first day (and second in the diaspora) is a sabbath-like yom tov (holiday) when work is forbidden, followed by the intermediate Chol Hamoed and Shemini Atzeret. The Hebrew word sukkōt is the plural of sukkah, "booth or tabernacle", which is a walled structure covered with schach (plant material such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm leaves).
The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav (closed frond of the date palm tree, bound with boughs and branches of the willow and myrtle trees) and etrog (yellow citron) (Four species).
According to the prophet Zechariah, in the messianic era Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there.(Zech 14:16-19) Rashi in Parashat Pinchas (Numbers, 29:18) writes that the 70 bulls offered whenever the Jewish people are able to offer animal sacrifices, the sum total sacrificed throughout the seven days of the Sukkot festival, correspond to and benefit the 70 national-linguistic groups encompassing all of humanity