Mo'edim and Holidays

Mo’edim: Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret (Feast of Booths and the 8th Day of Assembly) #Sukkot #SheminiAtzeret


Shalom, everyone! The biblical holidays of Chag Sukkot (Feast of Booths) and Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly), both collectively known as Sukkot in modern times, are observed each beginning on the 15th day of the Seventh Month (15 of Ethanim/Tishrei) and ending on the 22nd day of the Seventh Month (22 of Ethanim/Tishrei). This eight-day holiday is another of YAH‘s mo’edim (appointed times), and the third of the three pilgrimage festivals B’nei Yisrael were commanded to come to Jerusalem to celebrate once they were in the Land of Israel. The holiday commemorates the sojourning of the B’nei Yisrael in the wilderness for 40 years after the Exodus from Mizraim (Egypt); during their sojourning, B’nei Yisrael dwelt in tents and other temporary dwellings, depending solely on YAH for our sustenance. Sukkot also commemorates the end of the harvest time and the agricultural year.

To commemorate SukkotYAH commands B’nei Yisrael to dwell in booths (temporary dwellings) and rejoice before Him waving the Four Species for the first seven days of the holiday. The Four Species that YAH commanded us to wave before Him during these seven days are the “product of hadar trees,” “branches of palm trees,” “boughs of leafy trees,” and “willows of the brook” (Leviticus 23:40). The “product of hadar trees” is understood to be a citrus fruit called “etrog.” The “branches of palm trees,” “boughs of leafy trees,” and “willows of the brook,” are bound together and collectively known as the “lulav.” The etrog and lulav are waved before YAH towards the four cardinal points of the Earth, north, south, east and west.

The first day of Sukkot (15 of Ethanim) is a sacred occasion and a yom tov (day of rest): Work is forbidden. On the eighth day of the holiday (22 of Ethanim), which is Shemini Atzeret, we are commanded to have a solemn convocation. The eighth day (22 of Ethanim) is also a yom tov (days of rest): Work is forbidden. Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret are eternal ordinances from YAH to be celebrated throughout our generations forever.

Holiday Observances

In ancient times, B’nei Yisrael would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Sukkot, build temporary structures (booths) and dwell there while they celebrated the eight-day holiday. For the first seven days, our people would wave the Four Species YAH commanded. When the Tent of Meeting and later Holy Temple stood, B’nei Yisrael were commanded to bring special communal offerings along with their libations on each day of the holiday. The following were the number of burnt offerings made on each day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret (Numbers 29:12-39):

Day Bulls Rams Lambs Goats Fine Flour w/oil
 Sukkot Day 1  13  2  14  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb
 Sukkot Day 2  12  2  14  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb
 Sukkot Day 3  11  2  14  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb
 Sukkot Day 4  10  2  14  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb
 Sukkot Day 5  9  2  14  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb
 Sukkot Day 6  8  2  14  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb
 Sukkot Day 7  7  2  14  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb
 Shemini Atzeret  1  1  7  1 3/10 ephah for each bull
2/10 ephah for each ram
1/10 ephah for each lamb

In modern times, B’nei Yisrael observe Sukkot by either going camping away from our homes to dwell in tents; or by building a sukkah (temporary dwelling) adjacent to our permanent homes. The sukkah is built after Yom HaKippurim and before the first day of the holiday; the temporary dwelling is taken down after Shemini Atzeret.

As YAH commanded, the first and eighth days are yom tov, work is forbidden. On these days we have holy convocations during which we praise, worship and giving thanks to our Creator with psalms, songs, and prayers relevant to the holiday.  For the duration of the holiday, families eat their meals and spend quality time discussing Torah, making music, playing games etc. We also invite guests to join us in our celebrations in the sukkah. Some families even conduct business from the sukkah, except on the first and eighth days of the holiday.

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