The Festival, that’s what the rabbis call Sukkot. Of all the Holidays, it is the one most associated with joy. After the intense ten-day period of repentance culminating in Yom Kippur, we need a holiday where we can just experience some happiness.
Sukkot is one of my favorite holidays because of all of the hands-on festivities that take place over the course of the week. From eating in the sukkah to taking up the lulav and etrog to dancing with the Torahs at the end of the festival, there are many opportunities for participating in the joy of the hag.
One of the ways we experience joy in the Sukkah is by inviting guests for meals. Friendship and fellowship accompanied by a meal in the sukkah is a recipe for fun and enjoyment. The rabbis were so convinced of the efficacy of inviting quests into your sukkah they established the idea of having virtual guests each night. The tradition of Ushpizin, the Aramaic word for guests, dates back to the 16th century kabbalists who wanted to highlight the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, or welcoming guests. They created a list of Biblical characters who would visit each night of sukkot. We start with Abraham and Sarah on the first night and end with King David and Queen Esther on the last night of Sukkot. The kabbalists believed that our spirituality and closeness to God are enhanced when we realize the command to welcome others into our Sukkah.
We have several opportunities to welcome you into our Sukkah at Midbar Kodesh Temple over the course of Sukkot. We look forward to you allowing us to fulfill this wonderful mitzvah.
Sukkot starts Sunday evening October 13th and goes through the end of Simchat Torah on Tuesday October 22. Make sure to check out your emails and our website for information about Sukkot and Simchat Torah services and programming.
Wishing everyone a Hag Sameach, a Happy Holiday.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.