Friday, October 14, 2011

Sukkot Sameach!

It is Sukkot! Did you know that?
I live in a tiny apartment with a postage stamp for a balcony... so building a Sukkah poses quite a problem for me.
Well, I made it work anyway... witht the help of my boyfriend and my neighbor's unkempt 'garden'.
Okay, it's inside. But the whole Sukkah is a symbol anyway. For mine, you just have to use your imagination more.

So... you can't see the stars.. but with the bright lights of living in a city, I can't see them outside either...
I got 4 square beams, elbow brackets, eye hooks, and some chain. With a power drill and a handyman boyfriend, we have a city Sukkah.
I also tied string across the frame about 4 inches apart to rest me greenery on. arranged the green stuff, added some fake flowers, and tah dah!

Love, Caitlin

Here's something I posted last Friday on facebook on What Sukkot means to me.

I am no expert. I in no way intend to create a final impression or be the final word on any of this. This is my impression as it stands and this is how I feel. If this makes you think, research for yourself and create your own: “Sukkot - According to Me”

The Festival of Tabernacles
 33 The LORD said to Moses, 34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the LORD, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the LORD. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
 37 (“‘These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the LORD—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38 These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and[e] in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)
 39 “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. 40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’”
Leviticus 23: 33 - 43

As I understand, the basics of how Sukkot is celebrated are as follows:
Sukkahs (or Temporary dwellings) are made outside and covered with plants in a way that the stars can still be seen. People eat, sleep, and be in the Sukkahs for 7 days. One website I was reading said: “Yet the mitzvah is not only to eat, sleep, read, relax or study--but to be, to be within the sukkah. One simply enters the sukkah-space and the mitzvah (command) is performed. One need not really do anything. No action, no gesture, no exertion, no effort is required.”
An entire week where we focus on just being joyful. It’s kind of like a week long Thanksgiving.
The sukkahs symbolize the temporary dwellings that the Israelites lived in for 40 years in the desert. We remember how they lived and how God delivered them from Egypt and, eventually brought them into the promised land.
Jews take ‘the 4 species’, or, a specifically braided bouquet of two willows on the left, one palm branch in the center, and three myrtles on the right and hold an etrog (a stunningly delicious smelling citrus fruit similar to a large, bumpy lemon) and wave them in all directions.
It is a harvest festival. The last one of the year when all of the harvests have come in.
There are several ‘Jewish Holidays’ that are moeds (commanded in the Bible). It seems odd to me that God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow would suddenly decide that they are not important anymore. Also, Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Testament. He came to complete it.  To me, that says that now, post Jesus coming and dying for us, the moed holidays are fulfilled and must be even more exciting to celebrate. I think it’s better to celebrate a fulfilled expectation than to celebrate something to come.
To me, the moeds are even more beautiful, symbolic, and meaningful.
I adore symbolism. It puts a great event into an easily understood, poetic setting. Makes over heard or complex concepts new, digestible and simple.

Symbolism of the Sukkah:
Representing the tents that the Israelites had in the desert. That alone causes us to remember how big God is. He delivered the Israelites out of slavery in a day, the Egyptians shoved all their gold and wealth on the Israelites as they were leaving, and there was not one sick among them (Psalm 105:37). What a riot! God is so over the top about taking care of whoever will let Him. I’ll take any excuse to remember that!
The Sukkah also represents that we live in temporary bodies. It helps me realize the disconnect between my earth suit and my spirit. I get to live for a week in a symbolic ‘earth dwelling’ in it but not a part of it. A picture of me: truly me: my spirit, living inside my body.
“Spending time in a sukkah intensifies our awareness of just how fragile life is and that our lives are inextricably interwoven the rest of nature. Without a solid edifice to protect us from the elements, and exposed to the immensity of the universe, we are sensitive to our mortality and our connection to the universe.” (
It also symbolizes that Jesus took on a body and dwelt among us (John 1:145). If the Sukkah symbolizes that, that means that for a week we symbolically ‘be’ inside of Jesus like we actually do every day.

Symbolism of the ‘4 Species’:
Well…. I don’t really understand that. Personally, I don’t tend to do things that don’t mean anything to me so…. maybe I’ll get revelation on that later. For now, I perceive that the specifics of them are oral Jewish tradition that, I’m sure is lovely but for now I will go off of what I find in the Bible…
Leviticus 23:40 says, “On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.”
I will gladly take beautiful branches and rejoice before the Lord. It is human design to marvel at the outrageously detailed and stunning world that God created. People need nature! On a physical note, we need plants to convert Carbon monoxide to Oxygen! In a mental and spiritual note, communing with nature is communing with God’s world. Only He could create such complex systems and living things. He gave us an appreciation for its beauty. YES! Bring that stuff into my house!

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav's Prayer
Master of the universe, grant me the ability to be alone;may it be my custom to go outdoors each day,among the trees and grasses, among all growing things,there to be alone and enter into prayer.

There may I express all that is in my heart,talking with God to whom I belong.

And may all grasses, trees, and plants awake at my coming.

Send the power of their life into my prayer,making whole my heart and my speechthrough the life and spirit of growing things,made whole by their transcendent Source.

O that they would enter into my prayer!Then would I fully open my heart in prayer, supplication, and holy speech;then, O God, would I pour out the words of my heart before Your presence.

Lastly, Sukkot is a harvest festival.
 “In ancient times, the final agricultural harvest took place in the beginning of the autumn and following the intensely busy work of harvesting people would celebrate their abundance and give thanks to God….On Sukkot we give thanks to God, the source of our sustenance and the bounty of the agricultural season.” (
According to my Christian background, harvest is often referred to as the return (30, 60, 100 fold) of the Word of God sown (Mark 4). The fruition of the promises of God talking place. The arrival of the full blessing of God. Sukkot is celebrating the receiving of the full harvest. According to Faith, you don’t have to see something to believe it. You believe it because it is promised. Faith is believing that we already have what God has promised us. Even if we don’t see abundance, healing, wealth, and success in our lives, we know that it is ours because God said it is if we will walk according to his ways and He is not a man that He should lie. In celebrating the Harvest, we are relating to and living in the effects of the Blessing God promised.
Also, the full harvest, the true year of Jubilee is the return of Jesus. We are excitedly anticipating and celebrating the ultimate harvest!

As far as all the food sacrifices to the Lord that Leviticus 23 talks about, Jesus became our sacrifice when He died once and for all for us so we do not have to make animal sacrifices. And to me, when we pray over our food, and lift it up to God, I think it is like offering it up to Him. And, like a good dad, He lets us enjoy it.

And really, who could despise a week of Thanksgivings? Family comes together, delicious seasonal food is made. Fall is my favorite season! I like to celebrate it!

I think that the details of how much time you spend in your sukkah, how you make your sukkah, etc. should be determined by individual convictions and revelations. It is symbolism. Different things mean something to different people. I think the important thing is to think about what the elements of Sukkot represent and the fact that God planned this party. :) I want in on that.

1 comment:

  1. That is the most beautiful Sukka I have ever seen! What a stunning thing to eat under and thank the wonderful father for his gorgeous natural blessings.