Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I'll be taking a hiatus for a few days to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, which commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert. Sukkot is also a harvest festival and the direct ancestor of the American Thanksgiving...William Bradford and the Pilgrims were very familiar with the Bible ( Bradford, like many other educated people of his dat spoke and wrote Hebrew) and likewise wanted to give thanks for their deliverance from the wilderness.
In honor of the sojourn of children of Israel in the wilderness, people live in or spend time and at least eat some of their meals in temporary shelters. These contraptions are called sukkahs. The sukkah has at least three sides and a partially open roof covered with palm fronds, reeds, or whatever. people normally adorn the sukkahs with various decorations. Essentially, it's a party, coming as a counterpoint to Yom Kippur and the Days of Awe.
Another observance during Sukkot involves what are known as The Four Species or the lulav and etrog. The lulav consists of a palm branch, a myrtle branch, and a willow branch bound together. They all have symbolic meanings relating to the land of Israel.The etrog is a citrus fruit native to Israel (and now, California) and is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing and waives the species in all six directions (east, south, west, north, up and down).
Now, me, I'm off to build a sukkah....Chag Sameach!