The Unique History and Symbolic Nature of the Feast of Sukkoth

Published September 23, 2018 | Updated September 22, 2021

by Joseph Shulam

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    The young men of our congregation were very busy building a large sukkah or booth on the rooftop of our building.  This community sukkah is about 1300 square feet and it covers a large portion of our building’s roof.  Our entire congregation and many guests will help us celebrate and commemorate this important feast later on.  Sukkoth is one of the three pilgrimage feasts commanded by God.  In addition, we know from the New Testament that Yeshua and His disciples also made pilgrimage to Jerusalem during this season.

    Why is it Necessary to Observe the Feast of Sukkoth?

    Why are we commanded to build a temporary dwelling?  What exactly is a sukkah? It is a temporary structure made from any material that is not considered to be permanent in nature.  The roof has to be such that during a clear night you can see the stars through it.  The walls have to be made from cloth or plywood, something that can be dismantled easily.  The historical circumstance that this holiday commemorates are the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness of the Sinai desert.  The other aspect of this appointed time is that it comes at the end of the harvest period, which means that financial existential security is in place.  It would have been easy to think that you are now safe and secure after harvesting and selling your goods, however, in that very moment God commands everyone in Israel to go outside of their castle and live for one week in a temporary, uncomfortable dwelling.

    The Temporary Dwelling Causes All to be Equal

    The sukkah equalizes all people, regardless of their background or financial status.  In everyday life, we find that some individuals are rich, and they live in palaces.  While others are poor, and they live in a shack all of the time. During Sukkoth, everyone lives equally and there is neither rich nor poor for one week out of the entire year.  This is not something to take lightly because most people hide their real self and their true identity behind the walls of their homes.

    The Depiction of the Four Species

    In addition to being a temporary dwelling, the sukkah also involves the four species. They include the palm tree, which has taste but no smell, the willow, which has no taste and no smell, the citron that has both taste and smell, and finally the myrtle, which has smell but no taste.  Only by putting the four species together can you enjoy both taste and smell together.  In short, unity of society is one of the main messages of this holiday.

    Sukkoth Emphasizes the Importance of Entertaining Guests

    Each evening in the sukkah Jews symbolically entertain another guest: The first night is supposed to be Abraham, the second is Isaac, and the third Jacob, following them is Moses, Aaron, King David and finally the Messiah.

    Join us in celebration of Sukkoth and stand with us in prayer for Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people.

    Published September 23, 2018 | Updated September 22, 2021

    About Joseph Shulam

    Joseph Shulam was born in Bulgaria in 1946 to a Sephardic Jewish Family. In 1948 his family immigrated to Israel. In 1981, Joseph and the small fellowship that was started in his house established one of the first official non-profit organizations of Jewish Disciples of Yeshua in Israel – Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry. Joseph has lectured extensively and has assisted in encouraging disciples around the world. He and his wife Marcia have two children and two grandchildren.



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