We learn about the festival of Sukkot in the Torah, “The fifteenth day of the seventh month (Tishri) shall be a festival. You shall live in booths for seven days, so you may remember that the Jewish people lived in booths when they were freed from slavery in Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42-43). Today, many Jews build sukkot (booths) to fulfill this commandment and to remember the experiences of their ancestors.
The Torah also teaches us that on Sukkot we should take the branches and fruit of beautiful trees and celebrate (Leviticus 23:40). We use four crops to fulfill this mitzvah: palm branches, myrtle branches, and willow branches (which form the lulav) and a citron (etrog)that looks like a lemon. Many Jews purchase a lulav and an etrog which they bring to synagogue and shake on Sukkot.
Sukkot is one of the Shalosh Regalim (three pilgrimage holidays) when our farmer ancestors would make a pilgrimage (long journey) up to Jerusalem. They would bring their best fruits and crops and thank God for allowing them to grow food successfully. Sukkot has many names: Chag Hasukkot, the festival of booths/huts; Chag Ha’asif, the holiday of the harvest, and Z’man Simchatenu, the season of gladness. Sukkot is a very rich holiday as evidenced by her many names.
From The Alef Branch, a publication of the Council on Jewish Education and the Baltimore Jewish Times.