Sukkot (Feast of Booths) & Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly)

Sukkot, Feast of Booths, Chag Ha-Sukkot, Tabernacles, Sukkah, Booth, 4 species, Lev 23:40, Rabbinical tradition, waved, festival, Torah, celebrate, seven days, 15th, 21st, Seventh Hebrew month, holiday, Feast of Tabernacles, work is forbidden, first day, Pilgrimage Festivals, Jewish male, Jerusalem, laws, Talmud, Levitcus 23:40, fruit of a splendorous tree, splendorous fruit tree, date branches, branch of a thick tree, willows of the creek, Tanakh, Biblical, Nehemiah, Yehovah, Moses, Children of Israel, Seventh month, olive branches, oil tree branches, myrtle branches, House of God, Water Gate, Ephraim Gate, Karaites, Rabbis, Etrog, citron, olive tree, olive oil, Israelite, Arvei Nahal, Wadis, Israel, Babylon, Shemini Atzeret, 8th day, Rabbinic, simhat Torah, Celebration of the Torah, Rabbanites, God's lawOn Chag Ha-Sukkot, Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) we are commanded to build a Sukkah (Booth) using as building materials the "4 species" listed in Lev 23:40. Rabbinical tradition teaches that a bundle of these building materials must be ritually waved in the air during the festival.

The Torah commands us to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Chag Ha-Sukkot) for seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of the Seventh Hebrew month. This holiday is also known as the "Feast of Tabernacles". Work is forbidden on the first day of the seven days. Sukkot is one of three "Pilgrimage Festivals", which means every Jewish male is required to come to Jerusalem during this seven day period. Most laws in the Torah apply to both males and females, however, the pilgrimage law refers specifically to males. Both males and females are required to dwell in a Sukkah (Booth) for all seven days of the Festival, whether at home or in Jerusalem.

The Torah requires that we build a Sukkah on Chag Ha-Sukkot, but does not say how many walls it must have or describe it beyond saying what materials it must be made out of. This means that a Sukkah does not have to comply to any of the fictitious Rabbinical specifications laid out in the Talmud.

In Levitcus 23:40 the Torah commands that we "take" on the first day of Sukkot "fruit of a splendorous tree [or, a splendorous fruit tree], date branches, the branch of a thick tree and willows of the creek". To the modern reader, it is not immediately clear what to do with these branches and reeds. The Rabbis claim that one is supposed to make these plants into a bundle which is waved during the prayer service. However, this is not said anywhere in the Tanakh. On the contrary, in the Biblical book of Nehemiah chapter 8 we are told of a national gathering in which the Torah is read to the people and they rediscover what is commanded in it. We are told in verses 14-16:

"And they found written in the Torah that Yehovah commanded through Moses that the Children of Israel dwell in Booths (Sukkot) in the Seventh month. And concerning that which they heard [in the public reading] they passed a voice through all their cities and Jerusalem saying 'Go out to the mountain and bring olive branches and oil tree branches and myrtle branches and date branches and branches of thick trees to make booths, as it is written.' And the people went out and they brought and they made for themselves booths, each man on his roof and in their courtyards and in the courtyard of the House of God and in the broad areas of the Water Gate and the broad areas of Ephraim Gate."

Clearly, according to the book of Nehemiah, the "four species" are to be used as materials for building a Sukkah. Note that according to Neh 8:15 using the "four species" to build a Sukkah is what is required because "it is written". In other words, when they read Lev 23:40 they understood it to be commanding the taking of the "four species" for the purpose of building Succot. The Karaites have always accepted the interpretation of Nehemiah 8:14-16 over the dubious interpretation of the Rabbis. Notice also that the Etrog (citron) is not mentioned anywhere. Instead, the "splendorous fruit tree" of Lev 23 is represented in Nehemiah 8 by "olive branches and oil tree branches". "Splendorous fruit tree" is a very appropriate description of the olive tree considering the place of olive oil and the olive tree in ancient Israelite society.

After comparing the two passages in Lev 23 and Neh 8 it becomes clear that there are 4 categories of vegetation which can be used to build a Sukkah:

  1. Any leafy tree that can give shade (compare Ezekiel 20:28).
  2. A date palm and presumably any palm tree.
  3. Any fruit tree (compare Leviticus 23 and Nehemiah 8).
  4. Arvei Nahal - usually translated as "willows of the creek". Based on Nehemiah 8 which replaces "Willows of the Creek" with "myrtle branches" it would seem that this refers to various types of trees that grow along the banks of the Wadis (see Isaiah 44:4) of Israel and Babylon (see Psalms 137:2).

The word Sukkah comes from the root S.Kh.Kh. meaning "to cover", and the main part of the Sukkah is the roof or covering which must be made from one or all of the above materials. The walls can be made of any material available.

Sukkot, Feast of Booths, Chag Ha-Sukkot, Tabernacles, Sukkah, Booth, 4 species, Lev 23:40, Rabbinical tradition, waved, festival, Torah, celebrate, seven days, 15th, 21st, Seventh Hebrew month, holiday, Feast of Tabernacles, work is forbidden, first day, Pilgrimage Festivals, Jewish male, Jerusalem, laws, Talmud, Levitcus 23:40, fruit of a splendorous tree, splendorous fruit tree, date branches, branch of a thick tree, willows of the creek, Tanakh, Biblical, Nehemiah, Yehovah, Moses, Children of Israel, Seventh month, olive branches, oil tree branches, myrtle branches, House of God, Water Gate, Ephraim Gate, Karaites, Rabbis, Etrog, citron, olive tree, olive oil, Israelite, Arvei Nahal, Wadis, Israel, Babylon, Shemini Atzeret, 8th day, Rabbinic, simhat Torah, Celebration of the Torah, Rabbanites, God's law

Shemini Atzeret

The "8th day" of this seven day Festival is a day of rest called in the Torah "Shemini Atzeret". This holiday is widely known today by the Rabbinic misnomer "Simhat Torah" ("Celebration of the Torah"). The Rabbanites made up this name that refers to their annual reading of the Torah in weekly portions, which ends on Shemini Atzeret. Neither the annual reading of the Torah nor the name Simhat Torah appear in the Bible and these are later Rabbinic corruptions of God's law. Shemini Atzeret is not part of Sukkot and the laws of Sukkot do not extend to this day (i.e. Pilgrimage, dwelling in a booth). As a day of rest all work is forbidden on Shemini Atzeret.

 

Related Posts:
My U-Haul Sukkot
Ushpizin - My Favorite Movie

45 thoughts on “Sukkot (Feast of Booths) & Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly)

  1. Thank you for clearing this up. My husband and I have been trying to observe YHVH feasts and we are still learning. We live in NH and living in a Sukkot outside our home is not possible because of the cold temperatures. We set up a temporary dwelling in our living room and we eat and sleep under it with our 7th child, a son of 16 years old. It is one of the sweetest memorable weeks of the year. We did not understand about the four branches and we will try to put some through the top of our temporary dwelling. Our choice in following YHVH feasts and not the pagan holidays has caused division with the older children who came to love the traditions of the pagan holidays. When people come to our house and see our Sukkot sitting in the middle of our living room it opens up to great opportunities to share YHVH instructions that have been lost to the Christian world. Thank you for teaching as I grab on to the fringe of your garment to learn of His ways.

  2. Hi Nehemia.
    I don’t know if you really have time to reply, but in the event someone else might read and know the answer…
    It seems there is a difference between Feast of Unleavened Bread (not a shabbaton the first and seventh day) vs. Sukkot which are Shabbatons.
    Both however say in my Bible: No customary work as opposed to what is says about a Sabbath stating: No work.
    My question is about food preparation/cooking. It seems this is permissible with Unleavened Bread, but I do not know if it is for the first and last day of Sukkot, and it sounds like the 8th day is different.
    Any thoughts?

    • Diane,

      I do not know your definition of ‘shabbaton?’

      What I do know (Please correct me if I am wrong!) is that ‘shabbaton’ is a Greek word in the plural format. That is, ‘shabbaton’ in the Greek text means ‘sabbaths,’ or ‘shabbats.’ Also, it seems to me that numerous people have somehow attempted to read into this plural form of the one word ‘Shabbat’ an entirely different type of Shabbat (with different rules for observance) than that which is the Seventh Day Shabbat of our Creator. I see no basis for reading, into the plural form of the word, such a different meaning, but perhaps someone with more insight may be able to further enlighten me in that regard??? (Which is not to say that the Torah is not providing somewhat different instructions for the various Sabbaths defined in Leviticus 23.)

      For instance, if you carefully study your New Testament Bible, you will find eight texts [mis]translated “the first day of the week.” The corresponding words in the Greek Textus Receptus text are “mia ton shabbaton,” etc., which Greek words literally mean “the foremost of the Shabbats.” Nothing else! Not “the first [in sequence of time,]” and certainly not “the first day of the week!”

      Consider the fact that in every Feast of Unleavened Bread there are three distinct and separate Shabbats:
      1. The First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread;
      2. The Seventh Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread; and
      3. The regular weekly Seventh Day Shabbat (which Shabbat may fall on any one of the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, including also #1 and #2 above.)

      If you carefully study the greater context of said eight texts you will find that in seven of the eight texts the reference is to #2 above, that is, to the Seventh Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. No one of the eight texts has anything to the contrary!

      Thus, the translation “the first day of the week” is an obvious mistranslation of the Greek text. Said [mis]translation is apparently based upon the superimposition of the time concepts of Greek and other western languages, upon true Hebrew concepts of time. Indeed, if you carefully study your Greek Bible, you will find that the New Testament Bible is consistently using entirely different words when referencing the First Day of the week. However, the texts using those Greek words have have likewise not been correctly translated. Obviously because the translators’ have been blind to the true meaning behind those Greek words. That is, the colored glasses of the translators have somehow prevented them from seeing the obvious.

      Study the Scriptures! Study the Scriptures! The obvious answers are all there!

      Shalom

      • Re the above said different way of reckoning towards the 50th day of Omer, Pentecost:

        Lev 23:11, 12 defines the 1st day of Omer in terms of “on the morrow after the sabbath” (KJV.)

        The term ‘the morrow’ may be perfectly understood by means of the first instance of the corresponding Hebrew words as found in the Torah. That is, the context of Gen 19:34 defines ‘the morrow’ in terms of the morning following upon the night when one of Lot’s daughters slept with her father. That is, the morning following upon, and within, the day beginning at sunset the night before.

        Thus also ‘the morrow after the sabbath’ must likewise pertain to the Shabbat morning following immediately upon the sunset beginning said Shabbat. Not the second morning following the beginning of the Shabbat! That is, not Sunday morning, but the morning of the Seventh Day Shabbat [Saturday morning!]

        Indeed, in the Greek text, I find New Testament evidence of such reckoning and observance being in common usage among Jews in New Testament times. More specifically, per Acts 21:18-27, I find that the day there referenced is none other than the Seventh Day, which day was also the Fiftieth Day of Omer, the Day of Pentecost.

        Unfortunately, I find good reason for seeing that that Scriptural way of reckoning has been forgotten since that time. Very likely, in my mind at least, in consequence of the confusion following upon the decrees of Caesar Constantine and his followers in the 4th century CE.

        Shalom!

    • Diane,

      Re your words “it sounds like the 8th day is different:”

      Please note that per Lev 23:34 the Feast of Tabernacles is defined as lasting seven (7) days. No more! Not eight days! Accordingly, and obviously, the Eighth Day Feast is not part or parcel of the Feast of Tabernacles.

      So you are entirely correct!: “The 8th day is different!”

      Have you thought about Which day of the week is the Eighth Day of the week? The answer is obvious, is it not?! There is no Eight Day of the seven day week defined once and for all in Genesis Chapters One and Two. Accordingly, the eighth day of the week can pertain only to the day following the Seventh Day of the week of our Creator. That is, per the example provided for us in the seven day long Feast of Tabernacles followed by the Eight Day Feast.

      Nevertheless, in the reckoning of the fifty days of the Omer towards the Day of Pentecost, the Fiftieth Day Feast, the Scriptures are using a different way of reckoning…

    • So ‘the Eighth Day’ must obviously be pointing to something new, something following upon the Feast of Tabernacles, something new following upon the ‘cutoff’ of the Scripture year…

      Per Lev 23:36, not much else is provided as a definition of what exactly is the significance of the Eighth Day Feast!

      That is, besides the words themselves, ‘the eighth day!’ The Hebrew words of the Torah are “yom haShemini,” meaning ‘the eighth day.’ No more! No less!

      So what exactly is the significance of The Eighth Day Feast?!!

      Consider it! Selah!

    • Re the above said different way of reckoning towards the 50th day of Omer, Pentecost:

      Lev 23:11, 12 defines the 1st day of Omer in terms of “on the morrow after the sabbath” (KJV.)

      The term ‘the morrow’ may be perfectly understood by means of the first instance of the corresponding Hebrew words as found in the Torah. That is, the context of Gen 19:34 defines ‘the morrow’ in terms of the morning following upon the night when one of Lot’s daughters slept with her father. That is, the morning following upon, and within, the day beginning at sunset the night before.

      Thus also ‘the morrow after the sabbath’ must likewise pertain to the Shabbat morning following immediately upon the sunset beginning said Shabbat. Not the second morning following the beginning of the Shabbat! That is, not Sunday morning, but the morning of the Seventh Day Shabbat [Saturday morning!]

      Indeed, in the Greek text, I find New Testament evidence of such reckoning and observance being in common usage among Jews in New Testament times. More specifically, per Acts 21:18-27, I find that the day there referenced is none other than the Seventh Day, which day was also the Fiftieth Day of Omer, the Day of Pentecost.

      Unfortunately, I find good reason for seeing that that Scriptural way of reckoning has been forgotten since that time. Very likely, in my mind at least, in consequence of the confusion following upon the decrees of Caesar Constantine and his followers in the 4th century CE.

      Shalom!

      PS. Sorry about my initial misplacement of this entry of mine as duplicated under another entry of mine above. I would be happy if the moderator deletes said misplaced entry, and, if so, also this PS (but not the main body of this entry.) Thank you!

    • Lastly, re your question about when to prepare the food for Sabbath:

      I don’t know about you, but to me at least, the obvious answer is found in this:

      1. God has provided for us ‘a day of Preparation.’ That is, before any and all Sabbaths…

      2. By preparing on the day prior to Sabbath, as much as possible, all the foods to be eaten on Sabbath, any Sabbath, each and every one, not excluding the cooks, will be able to partake in, and to be blessed by, all the events of ‘the holy convocation’ of such a Shabbat.

      3. God is not a God of prohibitions. God is a God of Liberty, a Savior who delivers from all species of bondage. Ex 20:2!

      4. It is up to each one among us to accept God’s offers, or not. Gen 2:16, 17. Once we choose, the consequences will follow. From those consequences we are not saved. Yet, by ‘Remember[ing]…’ and by listening to the still small voice of our Savior/Father/God we will be saved from repeating over and over the same mistakes.

      To me that is true ‘salvation!’ In more sense than one!

      Selah! Consider it!

      Shalom

  3. I pray you can help me with this Sukkah and native born issue. When I read the instructions about Sukkot, this is what I understand it to be:
    (Lev 23:39)  ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh new moon, when you gather in the fruit of the land, celebrate the festival of ???? for seven days. On the first day is a rest, and on the eighth day a rest.
    (Lev 23:40)  ‘And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of good trees, branches of palm trees, twigs of leafy trees, and willows of the stream, and shall rejoice before ???? your Elohim for seven days.
    (Lev 23:41)  ‘And you shall celebrate it as a festival to ???? for seven days in the year – a law forever in your generations. Celebrate it in the seventh new moon.
    (Lev 23:42)  ‘Dwell in booths for seven days; all who are native born in Yisra’el dwell in booths,
    (Lev 23:43)  so that your generations know that I made the children of Yisra’el dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Mitsrayim. I am ???? your Elohim.’ ”
    (Lev 23:44)  Thus did Mosheh speak of the appointed times of ???? to the children of Yisra’el.

    You must be native born. I see people who live here in the USA for example and they go and build a Sukkah over in another state and have a merry old time.
    Just because the Israelites came out of Egypt (none were native born, only descendants), they did in fact live in Sukkahs in the wilderness and then again when they got into the actual land of Yisrael. They had to start it somewhere. I can’t use that as a claim for myself to build a sukkot in my own state. I read IN YISRAEL we are to build it and if one is natural born. I see people who are not native born building and living in Sukkahs and they are neither natural born or Torah observant, its just a “cool” thing these Jews do.
    My last comment is that the various religious groups all have the answers, but from my current understanding, I have yet to see it. Isn’t Deut 4:2 being violated because people are adding to the WORD? I guess the “natural Born living in the land” is what is jumping out at me.
    I’d appreciate a scriptural response. I need to see where changes have occurred, if any.
    Something caught my eye, as for us being like native born of Yisrael, yes, but in all references in scripture, they were dwelling amongst them. Context is key. I am LIKE a native Yisraelite, but I am not dwelling amongst them at this time. I live in the USA, but as an Yisraelite, because the Father chose me and I chose to love and follow ALL His Torah. The word “GENTILE” is a bad word… That’s for another blog. That is so misunderstood.

    Shalom,

    • Major correction!
      When I copied/pasted from the TS2009, the Hebraic letters did not take and left these awful question marks. YHVH, but in the modern Hebraic lettering.

      • Lisa, your question re Who is, and Who is not, ‘a native Israelite,’ reminds me of the question of who is, and who is not, ‘a first born.’ That is, the very important issue illustrated in the Torah by and through the lives and beings of Esau and Jacob, or as corrected, Jacob and Esau, in that order.

        My Torah reference (as you requested) is Genesis 25:23, 28, 31-32, 34:

        “YHWH said… “the elder shall serve the younger” ” (v. 23.) – Indicating YHWH’s design, intention, and/or prediction.

        Verse 28 points out each parent’s personal preference. That is, each one’s proactive choice of preference, and the basis thereof.

        Verses 31-32 are likewise pointing out the different value systems of Jacob and Esau.

        Verse 34 is a record of the confirmatory act. That is, a receipt of a trade made between two parties. Each party acting upon a voluntary choice based upon their respective value system at the time.

        What is a more solid fact of life than who is the one first delivered? And yet, here YHWH is showing us that the rights pertaining to that fact is subject to each our proactive and voluntary choice. And what exactly is ‘the title’ of said ‘rights of the first born,’ if not the very words ‘first born?’ Accordingly, by choice of claim and preference, Jacob BECAME THE OWNER of the title ‘first born.’

        To me, Shem (one in the kingly lineage of ‘first born’ Sons of YHWH) was forced, by the facts of life following the Flood, to seriously consider this very issue of Who is, and Who is not, having the rights of claim to being a Son, or a Daughter, within YHWH’s family. That is, by means of each one’s proactive choice of value system in life. As in: What do I choose to prioritize in my life? What words will truly characterize my beingness? Am I a thoughtful person, or am I a person satisfied with superficialities? Am I careful enough to consider the essential and built in meaning within each word, or am I satisfied with using a name, any name, as a label upon myself regardless of the true and factual characteristics of the life style that I am choosing for myself?

        Thus also (re your question,) Who is, or not, a ‘native Israelite?’ Who is, or not, ‘standing out’ (= ‘radiating’ = ‘native,’) in his or her life and action, as ‘One prevailing in YHWH’ (= ‘Israelite?’)

        Or is it merely a matter of the geographical area upon which I happened to be delivered by my mother? Or the area upon which I am presently placing my feet?

        Who or what constitutes a ‘country?” Is a ‘country’ primarily a certain geographical area, or is it primarily the people occupying such an area? If you pursue this last question, you may find, as I have, that the US Supreme Court is giving preference to the latter definition. That is, ‘a country’ = ‘a people.’ That is, the geographical area is named in consequence of the people occupying it. Not the other way around! Nevertheless, in common usage, it is the other way around: The people, whomever they be, that are delivered within a certain area of geography are named by said geography.

        The question (yours), as I perceive it, is therefore: “Am I ‘a native Israelite,’ or am I not?’ What is the factual basis for my claim?

        From the point of view taught in the Torah (as the record of the ultimate Supreme Court of YHWH:)

        Will my chosen basis of claim hold up when challenged by that of another?

        Selah!

        • PS. If the meaning of the word ‘first’ (in the term ‘first born’) may seem a bit confusing at first, it is probably because the word ‘first’ is usually first and foremost applied in terms of time and sequence.

          What is not so widely recognized is that the corresponding Hebrew word (behind the Torah word ‘first’ within the Torah term ‘first born’) is more correctly translated ‘foremost.’

          Thus also in Exodus 4:22:
          “Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.”

          How many Sons (and Daughters) are there within YHWH’s family? May I perceive a meaningful answer to that last question of mine in the last verse of Obadiah? That is, one of the two verses within the Tanach where I find the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’ used in the plural form? (The other is Neh 9:27.)

          In other words:
          What characteristics gives me (or you) a true, factual, and sustainable right of claiming the title ‘native born Israeli’ or even ‘native born among the People of YHWH?’

          Could it be that the image of Elohim as defined in Genesis 1:27 – male and female (and their Covenant under none but their Creator) – provides for us our foremost basis for a true and valid recognition of the nature of our Creator?

          Could it be that the key towards identifying a further characteristic of a family member of YHWH Elohim is found in One’s own experiential understanding and appreciation of Genesis 2:1-3? That is, by means of a proactive and voluntary choice of accepting the blessings inherent in ‘Remember[ing…]’ the true and timely Sabbath Days as defined in Gen 1:1-2:3; Ex 20:8-11; 31:13-16; Lev 23; Lev 25-26; Deu 5:5-15?

          Consider it! Selah!

      • After all of the above shared considerations of mine, I have a couple of questions for consideration and feedback by whomever might have a clue:

        1. ‘The Wall’ – as in ‘the Wailing Wall’ – is that wall truly a portion of Solomon’s Temple, or else, as suggested by some, is that wall in reality the foundation of the Roman fortification in Jerusalem during the first centuries of Roman occupation of Judah?

        Consider the following references:

        1. ‘The common hall (Matt 27:27,)’

        2. ‘the hall, called Praetorium (Mark 15:16,)’

        3. ‘the hall of judgment (John 18:28-29)’ where Pilate resided [i.e. the office of the Roman governor of Judah] at the very time when (obviously at another location) Herod’s reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem was being perfected (cf. John 2:20.)

        4. Re “the buildings of the Temple… “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” ” (Matt 24:1-2) – Do those words pertain to the building of which the Wailing Wall is a remnant, or else to another building entirely?

        I once was impressed that the rock upon which the Temple of Solomon was built, is, or was at least until that very recent time, bare rock.

        Having not pursued these question much further, I truly do not know the answers to these questions of mine re the Wailing Wall.

        What are the facts? Will someone show me uncontroversial proof?

        PS. And where exactly was ‘the palace of the high priest’ located? (Cf. Matt 26:3, 58, 69; Mark 14:54, 66; John 18:15.)

  4. “On the first day take…” Does this mean that the structure is NOT to be built during the time between Yom Kippur and Sukkot? I just noticed this and had always thought I was “too late” if I didn’t have the Sukkah finished before the erev. Happily it looks like building the Sukkah is not considered work by the Creator! What about the gathering of the materials?

  5. Leviticus/Vayikra says, on the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work, plus on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation, bring an offering, and do not do any kind of ordinary work. The eight day isn’t given any name, but this article confuses the eight day (today’s Simcha Torah (8th day)) and Shemini Atzeret (9th day) which Israel celebrates on the 8th day today… the eight day is Torah, the 9th day is not… is this correct? Shalom.

  6. I would like you, Nehimia, to explain the Temple water ceremony on the 8th day from what you know of its tradition. I believe it brings to mind Ezekiel 47.

  7. Thank you Nehemia for your research. I am in Israel now for Succot. We had the opportunity to build a sukka according to your research on the four species, which I already knew from your previous studies. Thank you so much for your excellent work!

    I hope you have a “Happy Succot!”

    Chag Sameah!,
    Hanna (Greece)
    Tel Aviv, Israel

  8. I live in the urban jungle. So we don’t have access to trees. I just set up my tent and sleep under the stars (and street light haha) for the week.

  9. Thank you, thank you thank you for bringing truth tested against traditions of man. Tradition binds whereas truth liberates!

  10. I’ve read many comments about using whatever is available in the area where the person lives.

    1) I wonder if Moses listed the 4 types as a broad category 2) I’ve heard some claim this command is only applicable if a person is literally in the land of Israel because of the 4 branches listed.

    So in a time long before internet ordering were possible, if a person in exile read the scripture and wanted to do “their best” wouldn’t anything available be acceptable?
    And according to the comments above, I gather that many realize that is the only thing that can be done if a person doesn’t literally live in the land of Israel.

  11. Nehemiah, is the shamesh of the word ‘sukka’ related also to the word ‘kippur’ ? Also what is ” oil tree” branches? Thanx for all you do! LB

    • I think you mean shoresh (root). The word comes from samech-kaf-kaf Sachach to cover over. Nothing to do with Kippur from kaf-peh-resh. Oil tree is a type of olive tree from which olive oil is made.

  12. You say that the command is that every “jewish” male is to go to Jerusalem during Sukkot! But it does NOT say every, ‘ ‘jewish’ it says every male…meaning every Hebrew/Israelite male…the command is NOT ‘Only’ for the tribe of Y’hudah…it is for ALL of Yisrael! Yisrael = All 12tribes AND the mixed multitude. … Every one that shuv /return to Yhwh’s Torah/instruction are Israel. No matter where you come from no matter what ethnic group creed or color.
    If you t’shuva you are no longer a goy/gentile, you are now as a native born hebrew/Israelite! Ken yehi ratzon! LB

    • Actually, by Jewish I mean all the descendants of Israel and those who joined them over the generations in the sense of Esther 8:17 “And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” There were members of all 12 tribes in the Kingdom of Judah along with the mixed multitude and Gentiles who joined themselves to Yehovah and all of these are referred to as “Jews” in Esther 8:17 and in common usage.

    • I agree! Lets celebrate on Jerusalem all the feasts if possible. One day we wiil live in the land and will be able ti do so more easiily! Meantime lets celebrate!

  13. Thank you for clarifying Shemini Atzeret; this is much needed for folks to be able to distinguish between rabbinical trappings vs. reality of the Torah.

  14. So tell me again what the Hebrew word atzeret means.Does it have several different meanings?Is it just a rest day? Do you have to meet as an assembly?

    • Greetings Victoria,

      Your post is from a few years back. Have you learned about the meaning of “atzeret” / atsara yet?
      If not, according to the word through Moses, it means an “assembly”, or, “solemn assembly” if it’s on a special day established by our Creator. In Lev 23:36, our Creator says this about the Eighth (Shimini) Day: 1) It is a special day [pure (kodesh) rehersal (mikra)] 2) It is a solemn assembly (atsara) 3) He does not establish this day as a Sabbath as He does for the [Day (Yom) of Atonement (Kippur)] in Lev 23:28, but only says no one shall do any work.

      Yarah shalam

  15. This poses a bit of a problem in our area, as the leaves are already fallen from the bushy plants that we had hoped to use. The commandments for Sukkot were written for the much more balmy Mediterranean area, not here! What should we use?

  16. Nehemia, Chag Sukkot Samaech! Your instructions and insights sure do give those of us just recently come out of Babylon or Egypt an excellent foundation. This and Torah Pearls! We use your newsletters and teaching links for our study and discussion during Sabbath. WE LOVE your “high tech” mode of transportation for the Iron Dome Tour! Your humor is such a blessing, it sure gives us a giggle! Bless you and Shalom

  17. This raises an interesting question. The Torah does not say what to do with the four species. Ezra/Nehemiah clearly interpreted the commandment to require that we “build” the sukkah with these items.

    So, is the interpretation of Ezra/Nehemiah binding? Are there limits to what we can learn from the Nakh with respect to interpretation of the Torah?

  18. We went and bought a little palm plant. We keep the dried branches tucked away for the next year. It is the only tree we wouldn’t have access to otherwise so we save it. We don’t have palm trees here in our deep snow area, so that was our solution.

  19. My fist sukkot I went out to the wooded area near my home, I took a camera, some water and snacks, a cutting tool and had a lovely walk in the garden with the Father. I have many beatiful photos. I cuts some boughs, and also drug home some fallen tree branches, they had begun to turn fall colors,, I had some cat tails and some long grasses. I hung the tree branches from inside my condo; and made a bouquet out of the cut items; tied a big blue bow around the end. When my husband and children arrived, we made stars, planets, moon and sun out of card board, colored paper and covered stars with aluminim foil and we ate on the floor in the front room dinning room under the branches and stary ceiling. It was great. We read the blessings and we all sensed His presence with us unto the day. In Israel; is the very best time to go is for Sukkot, is such a splendid sense of joy in the air, great outdoor music from every street, the whole city is splendid.

    • I’m guessing that the point was / is to use a variety of natural trees that were / are readily available in the surrounding area.
      Do your own investigating & reading. Ask Yehowah for guidance for yourself.
      For me & mine, we haven’t always had access to palm branches either. One year, we picked up a tiny palm tree at the grocery store, to represent that bit of the instruction, and it died of frost in our Sukkah. We get as close as we can with what we have, and guard the Instruction to the best of our ability.
      “But Yehowah said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but Yehowah looks at the heart.” –I Samuel 16:7

      I’m guessing that, if you don’t have palms or myrtles or olives or citrons in your neighborhood, the Almighty would be less offended by a pine hut than by giving up.

Please leave a comment.