Chag Sameach! Tomorrow is Erev Sukkot.

Image of Jewish Art 8.5''x11'' Sukkah Print

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at sundown will be 15 Tishri, or Erev Sukkot;  if you wish to observe the holiday, you have until sundown tomorrow to erect a sukkah.

You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Lev. 23:42-43).

Sounds easy enough, right? Not so fast, there are some pretty exact specifications regarding the suitability (kosherness) of a sukkah, such as:

-as a symbol of impermanence the sukkot should be built each year anew (you may use the same kit or parts, but not a structure that is left up year-round). In order to eat and dwell in the sukkah, it must be at least ten handbreaths but less than 20 cubits.

-the location should allow for no obstructions between the sky and the roof of the sukkot (the sechach). Find a spot free from branches, power lines, or overhangs.

-the walls can be made of any material strong enough to not move in normal wind. The walls of an existing structure can be used as part of the support. According to the Rabbis,  walls must not exceed 30 feet in height (least three are required, four is preferable). Wall gaps permissible if  less than 9.6 inches wide ( same gap allowed between t walls and  floor).

-the roof (sechach) cannot be added until  walls are complete and must be made from raw, unfinished or treated vegetable matter such as leaves, stalks, or branches. This material must be removed from its source (no longer growing), attachedwithout the use of leather, string or metal, and cannot be used as food. The roof must allow  more shade than sunlight, not have gaps over 11.5 inches wide, and allow for rain penetration. On a clear night you must be able to view the stars through the sechach.

-Decorating the sukkah is considered to be Hidur Mitzvah (beautifying a mitzvah) and is highly encouraged in the Talmud.

Once your sukkah is built, you’ll need a lulav and etrog. The combination are held together and with prayers are shaken in the four directions, plus above and below.

 “On the first day, you must take for yourself a fruit of the citron tree, an unopened palm frond (lulav), myrtle branches, and willows that grow near the brook. You shall rejoice before G-d for seven days.” ( Lev. 23:40)

Luvav and Etrog are known as the 4 species (3 tree branches +1 citrus fruit). The greenery is date palm, willow (aravah), and myrtle (hadass), the three trees  most able to adapt to drought in their bio-region (Israel has three). Directions on shaking the luvav:

Kollel: http://www.kolel.org/pages/holidays/Sukkot_four_species.html

Judaism 101: http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer/sukkot.htm

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One response to “Chag Sameach! Tomorrow is Erev Sukkot.

  1. The seventh day of Sukkot is Shmini Atzeret (the day before Simchat Torah, when we end and begin reading the Five Books). Shmini Atzeret is also time for Yizkor, the day of remembrance of our dead loved ones. Please join me at my house 5:30 pm October 16 for a brief Yizkor service. We had a minyan last time; I know we can do it again.
    Susan Bennett

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