How to Celebrate Sukkot

“On the 15th day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the harvest, you will celebrate YHVH’s festival of Sukkot for seven days. The first day will be a high holy day and you shall do no work, and after the seven days, on the eighth day it shall also be a high holy day and you shall do no work. On the first day you will take the best fruits of the best trees. And you will take branches from palm trees, myrtle, and willows that grow by the brook. You will celebrate this festival before YHVH your Elohim for seven days each year. This is a commandment that is to be observed forever. You will celebrate this festival in the seventh month. You will live in tents for seven days. All of the people will live in them, so that all of your descendants will know that I made the Israelites live in tents when I brought them out of Egypt. I am YHVH your Elohim.”

Leviticus 23:39-43

That is what YHVH says we are to do at the time of the autumn harvest. Below I will list ways that people have traditionally fulfilled it:

Sukkah

We are called to build Sukkah, booth-like tents. People build a rectangular tent with an opening on one side and a roof that has holes large enough to see the stars, preferably the roof is made with Palm fronds. They decorate the cloth walls with the fruits of the land, if possible they try to include pomegranates, citrons, and grapes. The ground of the tent is covered in throw rugs, pillows, cushions, and blankets. People have individual tents, and there is a large tent for communal gathering as well. They are to live in these tents for 7 nights, and especially to eat in them.

At completing the construction of these tents, and entering them for the first time, they say the Blessing of the Sukkah:

Birkat habayit baSukkah:
Baruch atah, YHVH Eloheinu, Melech haolam,
asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu leisheiv basukkah.
Bezeh ha shaˁar lo yavo tzaˁar.
Bezot haddirah lo tavo tzarah.
Bezot haddelet lo tavo bahalah.
Bezot hammaḥlaqah lo tavo maḥloqet.
Bezeh hammaqom tehi b’rakhah v’shalom.

Blessing for Dwelling in Sukkah:
Blessed are You, YHVH our Elohim, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with your mitzvot, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.
Let no sorrow come through this gate.
Let no trouble come in this dwelling.
Let no fright come through this door.
Let no conflict come to this place.
Let this dwelling be filled with blessing and peace.

Lulav and etrog

We are called to wave the fruits of the harvest, to take palm, myrtle, and willow together and fan them before YHVH. People take a palm frond, two myrtle branches, and three willow branches, weaving them into a fan-like structure, they hold it in one hand, and a citron (a lemon-like fruit) in the other, and facing East, wave them in six directions—north, south, east, west, up, and down: this symbolizes that the Divine Presence can be found in all directions, not just in one particular place.

Before waving these things, this prayer is said:

Baruch atah, YHVH Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat lulav.

Blessed are You, YHVH our Elohim,King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with your mitzvot, and commanded us to take up the lulav.

On the first day of the festival, before entering the Sukkah and before waving the Lulav and Etrog, a prayer called the Shehechiyanu, the blessing for when doing something for the first time in a year, is also said:

Baruch atah, YHVH Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehechehyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, YHVH our Elohim, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.

Praying for Rain

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty.

Zechariah 14:16-21

Therefore scripture tells us that if we celebrate Sukkot correctly we will be blessed with rain for the next year’s harvest. Since we want to fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkot correctly, we therefore pray for rain, for rain shall be a sign that we have fulfilled the mitzvah.

Prayer for Rain:

Blessed are you, YHVH our Elohim, and Elohim of our ancestors:

Remember Abraham who flowed to You like water.
You blessed him like a tree planted by streams of water.
You rescued him from fire and water.
He passed Your test by planting good deeds by every source of water.
For Abraham’s sake, do not keep back water.

Remember Isaac, whose birth was foretold when Abraham offered the angels a little water.
You asked his father to spill his blood like water.
In the desert Isaac dug and found wells of water.
For Isaac’s sake, do not keep back water.

Remember Jacob, who crossed the Jordan’s water.
He bravely rolled the stone off the mouth of the well of water.
He wrestled with an angel made of fire and water,
And therefore You promised to be with him through fire and water.
For Jacob’s sake do not keep back water.

Remember Moses, who was drawn in a reed basket out of the Nile’s water.
Who helped Jethro’s daughters: He drew water and gave the sheep water.
He struck the rock and out came water.
For Moses’ sake do not hold back water!

Remember Aaron, the High Priest, who, on Yom Kippur, washed himself five times with water,
He prayed and was sprinkled with purifying water,
He kept apart from a people who were as unstable as water.
For Aaron’s sake do not hold back water.

Remember the Twelve Tribes whom
You brought through the divided waters;
For whom You sweetened bitter water;
Their descendants’ blood was spilled like water.

Turn to us, Elohim, we are surrounded by troubles like water.
For Your people’s sake, do not hold back water.
You are YHVH, our Elohim
Who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.
For blessing and not for curse. Amen.
For life and not for death. Amen.
For plenty and not for lack. Amen.

Hakhnasat Orekhim – Show Hospitality to Guests and Strengthen Community

Our first patriarch, Abraham, practiced hakhnasat orekhim–hospitality to guests. He would sit outside waiting for the opportunity to invite dusty wayfarers into the shade of his tent, and then run to prepare a meal of the choicest ingredients. A midrash on the apocryphal Book of Jubilees, suggests that the first booth on which the holiday Sukkot is based, was built by Abraham when he greeted the three Angels who came to tell him his wife Sarah would at last bear a child, Genesis 18:1-10. Jubilees 16:21 traces other observances of Sukkot to Abraham’s tents in Beersheva, where he erected an altar and circled it while praying.

Later in Genesis chapters 31 through 33, Jacob travelled, returning to the land of his father, and set up camp for his family, and the angels who joined them, before meeting with Esau to make amends and peace. He came before Esau with many gifts and kind words, introducing his whole family to him. This too seems to have been a form of Sukkot. Many years earlier, Esau had felt wronged by Jacob, and was upset enough to swear that he would kill him, causing them to not see or speak to each other for many years. Jacob however, places his trust in God and decides to reconcile with his brother, making peace offerings and restitution, bowing seven times before his brother. To Jacob’s joy and relief, Esau embraces him, and they both weep. Esau refuses his brother’s peace offerings, saying that he already has enough. Nevertheless Jacob insists, “No, please; if I find favour with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God.” Gen. 33:10. He now saw “the face of God” in the face of the very brother who had sworn to kill him. This shows just how difficult reconciliation is, it takes faith and trust in God, becoming vulnerable, making sacrifice, and humbling oneself. The Torah teaches us, that when we do this; and are finally able to see “the face of God” in the face of our enemy and reconcile with our brother; we will be blessed. This story really spiritually resonates with what we are called to do during Elul, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot; and just like it did for Jacob, it could lead to angels joining us at our encampment, and a wresting with God that will change us into new people that will go by the name Israel.

From Elul to Yom Kippur we are to focus on taking accountability for our past actions and making amends with those who we have wronged. Just days afterwords we are called out to our Sukkah for a feast of communal in-gathering. Along with all of our friends and family that we invite into the sukkah to strengthen that mishpacha bond, we should also invite in those with whom we have recently made amends, for of all of the people whom we need to strengthen our bonds with, our relationship with them is in most need of rebuilding. If we invite in everyone to share in this closeness, rich foods, music, song, and merriment, we strengthen the community as a whole, and a strong community is a community that shall continue throughout the years.

That is why we are to keep one side of the sukkah open, so that all who pass by know that they are welcome. Perhaps one of the reasons the fronds that form the roof must be sparse or thin enough to see the stars through it, is so that, beyond being able to see the indicators of the appointed times; it signifies that we are even to invite the evening sky, all of creation, to dine with us. In life there are so many among us who are made to feel unwelcome, we are to invite them all in. As previously mentioned, Zechariah 14:16-21 tells us that all of the people of the earth are called to come and celebrate Sukkot, even those who have attacked us and persecuted us. If we wish to make amends, and love our enemies, and bless those who hurt us, in the hopes that they shall teshuvah, turn from hurtful ways, and come to YHVH, we must be willing to invite them in, and build bonds of brotherly love, in the hopes of uniting in one mishpacha, who as one house will not bow down to the gods of men, but will serve YHVH the Elohim of Israel.

We should invite in those with whom we have made amends, as well as the stranger, the foreigner, and the poor; give them a seat of honour in the sukkah, and prepare for them the best meal we can, and serve it to them. We should let them know that this is only the beginning of how wonderful things can be, that we are thankful for their presence.

Share communal meals and build bonfires, sit around with musical instruments, sing and share in the joy of the harvest, the in-gathering, the reconciliation. Draw closer, share in the living waters of life, engage is friendly conversation, and strengthen the bonds of community, becoming one big family mishpacha.

Ushpizin: Welcoming Guests

A ritual inviting symbolic guests into the Sukkah

Sukkot is associated with hospitality. We welcome friends, family, and the community into our sukkah and we visit others. We eat, we sleep, we study, and we spend seven days and nights in the company of neighbors and friends.

In addition to extending personal invitations to the needy (it was customary to have at least one poor person at a Sukkot meal), we open our homes symbolically: We invite the Ushpizin (Aramaic for “guests”).

According to Jewish tradition, “When a man sits in the shadow of faith (sukkah) the Shekhinah (Divine Presence) spreads Her wings on him from above and seven righteous ones of God (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aharon, and David) make their abode with him. A man should rejoice each day of the festival with these guests.” 

So it is believed that the Divine Presence (Shekhinah) accompanies every person into the sukkah; and that the Shekhinah is also accompanied by the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aharon, and David. 

Why are these seven personalities invited into the sukkah?

The Sukkah, the temporary dwelling, reminds us of the time of wandering in the wilderness. Each of the seven ushpizin lived through their own exile under the guidance of YHVH; each of the seven ushpizin, in his wanderings, through a respective personal characteristic trait, contributed to the world something which strengthens the Divine Presence in this world:

  • First day: Abraham – left his father’s home, left his homeland for the land of Canaan, which YHVH promised to show him [Genesis 12:1]. Contributed: Chesed (חֶסֶד, “Loving-kindness”)
  • Second day: Isaac – went to Gerar in the Kingdom of Philistia when there was famine [Genesis 26:1]. Contributed: Gevurah (גְּבוּרָה, “Inner-strength and Mighty Judgment”)
  • Third day: Jacob – fled his home to protect himself from his brother Esau and to find a wife, went to the home of Laban [Genesis 28:2]. Contributed: Tiferet (תִּפְאֶרֶת, “Truthful-splendor and Beautiful Harmony’)
  • Fourth day: Joseph – was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt [Genesis 37:23-36]. Contributed: Yesod (יְסוֹד, “Foundation of Holy-Righteousness”)
  • Fifth day: Moses – fled to Midian after inadvertently killing an Egyptian [Exodus 2:11-15], and led the nation out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness and to the borders of the Promised Land [Exodus 13]. Contributed: Netzach (נֶצַח, “Divine-eternity and Triumph”)
  • Sixth day: Aharon -led, along with Moses, the nation in the wilderness in his role as High Priest [Exodus 13]. Contributed: Hod (הוֹד, “Divine-grandeur, Majesty, and glory”)
  • Seventh day: David – was driven into hiding in the wilderness to avoid the wrath of Saul [1 Samuel 20, 21]. Contributed: Malchut (מַלְכוּת, “Divine-sovereignty-kingship”)

Reflecting on the periods of homelessness and wandering in their lives, while in our temporary dwellings, can inspire us to emulate the benefits they brought to the world. 

Therefore it is tradition that on each night of Sukkot we invite one of seven shepherds of Israel to take up residence in the sukkah with us.

 The Ushpizot: Inviting the Women

A more modern tradition is to also invite seven biblical women, either paired with the men or on their own. Being as this is a newer tradition, the exact list of women is not universally agreed upon, there are a few different lists.

  • The Seven Prophetesses: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Abigail, Hannah, Huldah, and Esther.
  • The matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel; Zilpah, Bilha, and Tamar. 
  • Other women of Israel: Ruth, Dinah, Asnat, Yochebed, Tziporah, Rahab, and She’ilah.

Since the 1600s the tradition of the Seven Prophetesses has been the one most connected to the Ushpizot. What traits about these seven shepherdesses can inspire and shepherd the women of our community?

  • Sarah journeyed with her husband Abraham from Ur to Canaan to Egypt and back. Against all odds, even though things seemed hopeless, she became a mother to the nation, to the people who were promised the land (Genesis 16,21). May we in the face of hopelessness be faithful and diligent against all odds. Contributed: Malchut (מַלְכוּת, “Divine-sovereignty-kingship”)
  • Miriam watched over her infant brother Moses when his mother hid him in the reeds of the Nile River after pharaoh’s decree to kill all Hebrew baby boys. Miriam saves him (and by extension, the Jewish people) by convincing pharaoh’s daughter to adopt him and raise him as her own. Later she appears as Miriam the prophetess who leads the Israelite women in song and dance after the crossing of the Sea of Reeds. As long as she was with the people, fresh nourishing water followed them (Exodus 2:1-9; 15:20-21). Like her, may we look after and protect the innocent children around us as they pass through the turbulent sea of life, for in doing this we will nurture future generations; and may we inspire and lead the women around us as they too cross fearsome waters; and may we be a bringer of sustaining good nourishment to people. Contributed: Chesed (חֶסֶד, “Loving-kindness”)
  • Deborah is the Bible’s only female judge. She is a critical figure in the Israelite victory over the Caananites led by King Jabin and his general, Sisera. Deborah can be depicted sitting under a palm tree, adjudicating legal matters, or wearing a helmet and brandishing a sword (Judges 4-5). May we come to know the Torah and be granted the wisdom to make rightful judgments and defend others from harm. Contributed: Hod (הוֹד, “Divine-grandeur, Majesty, and glory”)
  • Hannah struggles with infertility, being picked on, misjudged, and wrongly accused of sin. In despair and deep faith, she offers fervent prayer at the sanctuary and vows to consecrate her child to the service of God. When she gives birth to a son, Samuel, Hannah sings a triumphant song that proclaims her success over her adversaries and the ultimate power of God (I Samuel 1). May we, with deep faith and fervent prayer, overcome hardships and the cruelty of those who misjudge and wrongly accuse us, and may we consecrate our fruits to YHVH. Contributed: Netzach (נֶצַח, “Divine-eternity and Triumph”)
  • Abigail is the wife of Nabal. David, not yet king of Israel, travels to their tribal area and asks her husband for hospitality. Nabal refuses, and the enraged David prepares to attack him. Abigail brings David food and drink and asks him to spare her husband. Through hospitality and kindness, she was a peacemaker and honoured divine sovereignty (1 Samuel 25). May we, through hospitality and kindness, honour the divine sovereignty by becoming peacemakers. Contributed: Tiferet (תִּפְאֶרֶת, “Truthful-splendor and Beautiful Harmony’)
  • Huldah is the prophetess who validates the scroll of law found in the temple during the time of King Josiah (mid 7th BCE). Josiah sends his emissaries to Huldah, asking if the scroll is authentic (II Kings 22:10-20). May we all have the wisdom to know the Torah well enough to be able to tell what is authentically from YHVH, from that which is not. Contributed: Yesod (יְסוֹד, “Foundation of Holy-Righteousness”)
  • Esther is a young virgin taken into the harem of King Ahasuerus. Esther is chosen to become queen, and with courage and faith in God, she speaks up against wickedness and influences the king to end the persecution of her people (Book of Esther). May we all have the courage and faith to speak up against wickedness and try to bring an end to persecution. Contributed: Gevurah (גְּבוּרָה, “Inner-strength and Mighty Judgment”)

Alternatively one cannot underplay the importance of the Matriarchs, especially since so many of the male shepherds are their counterparts, the Patriarchs. That therefore leads to this other common list:

  • Ruth, Chesed (Love) – pure kindness and trust, devoting herself entirely to being God’s instrument and Naomi’s support, the one who chooses to be Jewish (to speak anachronistically) without any advantage or self-interest, motivated strictly from within herself, like Abraham
  • Sarah, Gevurah (Judgment) – the one who demands that Hagar be thrown into the wilderness, judgment that overcomes mercy, she is even called g’virati by Hagar
  • Rebekah, Tiferet (Beauty, Balance) – she is the wily one, like Jacob, who knows how things must turn out, who can create the reality that needs to exist, and who can draw on mercy or harshness as needed to accomplish her purpose
  • Miriam, Netzach (Victory, Eternity) – prophet, bearer and bringer of water (the right side), Moshe’s sister, the one who knows how to celebrate victory over Pharaoh’s army
  • Deborah, Hod (Majesty) – warrior and prophet, the greatest female ruler in Israel.
  • Tamar, Yesod (Foundation) – the one who sits at the crossroads of Einei Hashem, who embodies the fullness of sexuality (as does Yesod), who joins with Judah (who represents Malkhut – this reverses the masculine and feminine assignments of these Sefirot), who is tzadkah, the righteous one, just as Yosef is tzadik.
  • Rachel, Malkhut (Kingdom) – the Shekhinah who goes into exile with her children and pleads for their return.

Regardless of which list of seven honoured Biblical women is chosen to accompany the traditional seven men; one can be assured that by including inspirational women in this tradition, we can help women to see that they too have very integral and important roles to play in the community of faith, and the will of God. 

And so, while we sit in these simple makeshift cloth dwellings, surrounded by the richness of nature, the fruits of the harvest, and the wealth of community and friendship, freeing ourselves from the distractions of a civilization that so often goes against God’s good path, and we turn towards Him and follow His path; may we all be filled with his Word and inspired by his saints, his good shepherds and shepherdesses who came before us, to persevere in His way.  May these special biblical guests grace us with their presence, each on his or her designated day, and heighten our connection to our Almighty Elohim.

How one traditionally honours the presence of the Ushpizin/ot

It is said that the ushpizin would refuse to enter a sukkah where the poor are not welcome, serving as a reminder of our duty to the poor. Therefore, each night, invite a poor person to eat in the sukkah. Then there will be the seven “honoured guests from above” with the “seven honoured earthly guests”, and the shekhinah will hover over all.

Set aside one or two special decorated chairs in the sukkah and announce each day that these are the chairs of the ushpizin/ot. The chair remains empty throughout the meal. Many people put plaques or pictures of the ushpizin/ot, sometimes including scenes from their lives and a blessing, on the front of the back of the chair; and place the Tanakh on the seat of the chair. This custom is reminiscent of Elijah’s cup at the Passover seder and Elijah’s chair at a traditional circumcision. Some believe that the souls of these invitees literally come and make contact with their descendants, reaffirming the link between past and future.

Place a plate of food in front of the empty chairs. The food is later sent to the poor with a note that says, “This is the share of the ushpizin/ot.”

The spiritual guest of each day is invited to join us at the meal with a prayer. Each night, during the meal, we briefly study the stories of the ushpizin/ot; their stories are rich and engrossing, highlighting the multi-layer dimensions of the lives of our biblical forebears. 

The short version of the invocational prayer:

Blessed be you, YHVH our Elohim, King of the universe, who makes us holy by your commandments, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah. 

May it be Your will, YHVH my Elohim and Elohim of my fathers, to send Your Divine Presence to dwell in our midst and to spread over us the sukkah of Your peace, to encircle and envelop us with the glorious majesty of Your pure and holy radiance. Give sufficient bread and water to all who are hungry and thirsty. Give us many days to grow old upon the earth, that we may serve You and revere You. Blessed be YHVH forever, amen.

[name of the day’s ushpizin/ot], my honoured guest, may it please you to have all the honoured guests join me and you.

Elohim, full of compassion, may you send down Your Presence to rest upon us like the dewfall, and spread over us as a sukkah of compassion and peace. inebriate us with the radiance of Your Shekhinah, heal the heavens from our transgressions and purify us from our sins. 

As a bird feeds and sustains its nest, may You feed and sustain us, and grant us to dwell many days in Your Presence. Blessed be Yah forever and ever, Amen.

Blessed be You, YHVH, our Elohim, King of the universe, who blesses us with your commandments, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

The long version of the invocational prayer:

Officiant:

Blessed be you, YHVH our Elohim, King of the universe, who makes us holy by your commandments, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah. 

YHVH our Elohim, we come here to fulfill the mitzvah as You commanded in the Torah: “Seven days you will dwell in sukkot, so that your generations will know that I made Israel’s children dwell in sukkot when I brought them from Egypt.”

May it be Your will, YHVH my Elohim and Elohim of my fathers, to send Your Divine Presence to dwell in our midst and to spread over us the sukkah of Your peace, to encircle and envelop us with the glorious majesty of Your pure and holy radiance. 

In the merit of the commandment of sukkah that we are fulfilling, may we be more closely united with the name of the Holy One, YHVH, blessed be He and His Divine Presence. With reverent love, may we be unified with the name, with the Yod Hay, and with the Vav Hay, on behalf of all of Israel

spread over our heads ‘like an eagle protecting his nest.’ And from there, may the flow of life flow to us, Your servants and maidservants. 

All:

In the merit of my going out of my house – ‘I eagerly pursue Your commandments’ – let this be considered as if ‘I wandered far away’ thus suffering the atonement of exile, and ‘wash me thoroughly of my iniquity and purify me of my sin.’ 

Officiant:

‘Let Your ears pay heed’ to the many prayers of the honoured guests, the guests of faith here among us today; and give Your ever-sufficient bread to the hungry, and Your inexhaustible well as drink to the thirsty. 

All:

And give me the merit to sit and be sheltered ‘in the hidden shade of Your wings,’ at the time of my leaving the world, and to be ‘sheltered from the torrential rain,’ when ‘You rain down blazing coals upon the wicked.’ And let this commandment of sukkah that I am fulfilling be considered as if I had fulfilled it with all of its details, its exact specifications, its conditions and all the commandments that depend upon it. 

Officiant:

Make the sealing of judgement good for us, and let us dwell within Your service and within the awe of Your Presence. ‘Blessed be YHVH forever and ever, Amen.’

To increase the Shekhinah, we invite to the meal, in the name of all Israel, the honoured guests, ushipizin ila’in v’ushpizata ila’ata.

All:

[Day One] Love with Kindness. 
[Day Two] Love with Judgment. 
[Day Three] Love with Beauty. 
[Day Four] Love with Eternal Victory. 
[Day Five] Love with Majesty. 
[Day Six] Love with Foundation. 
[Day Seven] Love with Sovereignty.

Officiant:

Come in, and sit, sit honoured guests; come in and sit, sit guests of faith, come and sit in the shadow of the Holy One. Blessed be, for worthy is Israel’s portion, as it is written (Deuteronomy 32:9), “For the portion of YHVH is His people, Israel His allotment.”

All:

[name of the day’s ushpizin/ot], my honoured guests, may it please you to have all the honoured guests join me and you.

Officiant:

Elohim, full of compassion, may you send down Your Presence to rest upon us like the dewfall, and spread over us as a sukkah of compassion and peace. inebriate us with the radiance of Your Shekhinah, heal the heavens from our transgressions and purify us from our sins. 

As a bird feeds and sustains its nest, may You feed and sustain us, and grant us to dwell many days in Your Presence. Blessed be Yah forever and ever, Amen.

Blessed be You, YHVH, our Elohim, King of the universe, who sanctifies us by your commandments, and commanded us to dwell in sukkot.

Shemini Atzeret Simhkat Torah

After the seventh day of Sukkot, is another high holy day called, “Shemini Atzeret Simhkat Torah” which means “on the Eighth day Assemble and Pause to Enjoy the Torah“.

As the sun sets on the evening of the seventh day, the women light candles, or if there are no women present, the men do so. They say the common prayer for lighting candles:

Baruch atah YHVH Eloheinu melech ha olam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik nerot

Blessed are You, YHVH, our Elohim, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and has commanded us to light candles.

Yizkor – Remembrance

The Yizkor service is held – I have translated it here.

Amidah Shemini Atzeret

The Amidah prayer for Shemini Atzeret is then said – My translation of that can be found here.

Followed by the reading of the final Torah parasha.

haKafot

At the finishing of the Torah the people and the Torah are so full of joy that they must dance.

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