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October 4, 2012October 4, 2012  0 comments  Geography

If you want to experience Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, in all its glory and biblical meaning, go no farther than to Neot Kedumim, Israel's very special biblical landscape reserve, located 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem, close to Mod'in, in the Judean Hills.

 

" In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me... streams of living water will flow from within him" (John 7: 37-38)


Neot kedumim is a picturesque reconstructed biblical landscape reserve at the foothills of Jerusalem with breathtaking views over the Samarian hills on one side and the skyline of Tel Aviv on the other side. Visitors can explore the natural setting of the land, the plants and trees, the water facilities and the agricultural installations as they were at the time of the bible.

 

During the four species tour at Neot-Kedumim we meet the etrogim (Citrons), both small and large varieties, growing on their trees, with their wonderful citrus-y fragranced leaves We once had an etrog the size of a small watermelon that was in the Israel edition of the Guiness Book of World Records! The etrog, it turns out, is an oleh, an immigrant to Israel, possibly originating in India or Persia, but a veteran oleh that appears in the Mishna. The etrog is quite happy here, but only if we provide it with large quantities of water.

 

Next, we meet the hadas-myrtle. Unlike its neighbor the etrog, hadas is a hardy plant that can survive the long, dry summer without irrigation. Its leaves are green and shiny and fragrant even before the first rains. It may be this ability to withstand drought that gave rise to the myrtle's many folkloric associations: long life, prosperity, success. The Talmud (Brachot 57a) even says that if you dream about myrtle, your property will prosper, and, if you don't have property, you will inherit property.

 

Further down the trail is the arava-willow. Here are both the familiar red-stemmed, long-leafed variety, and a curious tree that has both long and round leaves on the same branch. This is also a kind of arava that is called "khilfa-gila" in the Talmud (Sukka 33b-34a)-khilfa (knife)-gila (round) indicating the two shapes of the leaves. Like the etrog, the willow is an extremely thirsty plant that wilts quickly in the absence of water.

 

Finally, we meet the lulav, the inner, unopened frond of the date palm, nestling in the center (lev) of the tree. The date palm is indigenous to Israel's desert areas, but only where there is water underground-oases. Whether you're a modern Bedouin or an ancient Israelite wanderer, the place to camp in the desert is under the date palms. One of the Israelites' first encampments, in fact, was an oasis called "Elim," where according to the bible there were "twelve springs of water and seventy date palms" (Numbers 33:9).

 

You may have noticed that water has been a subtext of this very brief Four Species tour. Three of the four-etrog (Citron), willow, and date palm-are highly dependent on a constant supply of water. One, the myrtle, can survive long periods of drought. Water is in fact an important theme of Sukkot, the time when we begin praying for the first winter rains without which there is no life here in Israel. According to the Mishna (Rosh Hashana 1, 2), "On the hag [Sukkot], judgment is passed in respect to rain." And the Four Species themselves are living representatives of our pleas for water-for life. Like the etrog, willow, and date palm, we need water to survive. But, if the rains don't come, we would like to survive anyway, like the myrtle. Indeed, the Talmud (Ta'anit 2b) designates the Four Species as "advocates" for water.

 

And in this context the words of Jesus when he visited the Temple at Sukkot- the Feast of Tabernacles, are becoming even more meaningful.

 

Visiting Neot Kedumim

Neot Kedumim is located off of Route 443, approximately 20 minutes from Jerusalem, 5 minutes south of Mod'in, in the Judean Hills. Visitors that wish can also arrange, in advance, to plant a tree.

Telephone: + 972 (0)8 -9770782
tourism@neot-kedumim.org.il

Website: www.n-k.org.il

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September 27, 2010September 27, 2010  3 comments  Events

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is one of the seven annual holidays instituted by God in the Tanakh, or Old Testament. As such, it is viewed as a "Jewish" holiday. So it must seem strange to Israelis and Jews everywhere to see thousands of Christians make the journey to Jerusalem every year in accordance with Deuteronomy 16:16-17 to celebrate Sukkot.

 

Indeed, so many Christians converge on Jerusalem every year for the Christian Feast of Tabernacles celebration that it is by far Israel's largest annual tourism event, injecting an estimated $15 million into the local economy in a matter of days.

 

So, while most Israelis aren't complaining that Christians desire to mark one of "their" holidays in such grand fashion, the question remains - why?

 

Travelujah asked a number of participants at the Feast of Tabernacles hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to answer that question.

 

"Zechariah says the nations will all come up to Jerusalem for Sukkot, so we are fulfilling that prophecy," said Judy Ball from North Carolina, referring to Zechariah 14:16.

 

The ICEJ website notes that "the Bible describes the Feast of Tabernacles as the third of the three annual feasts which the people of Israel are commanded to celebrate in Jerusalem."

 

As Christians, the ICEJ states that it "believes that celebrating the Feast each year honors the Lord in anticipation of the fulfillment of the words spoken by Zechariah when ‘the nations...shall come up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles' (Zech. 14:16)."

 

Ball said that she and her husband have been making that journey of anticipation for the past 14 years, and today lead the ICEJ intercession team at the Feast.

 

"We see it as a perfect opportunity to not only intercede for Israel, but also for the nations that are all represented," Ball told Travelujah.

 

Beyond that, Ball also sees the huge influx of Christians during the Feast as "an opportunity to help promote peace in the region and build bridges between Christians and non-Christians. God not only loves the Jews, but all the people of this region, so we are here to pray for them, too."

 

Herta and Irene from Austria, who are by comparison relative newcomers to the Feast, said their participation and decision to come up to Jerusalem with a group of 20 fellow Christians was a simple expression of faith.

 

"We want to bless Israel," they said, adding that "our roots are here, in Israel. We have the same God."

 

In truth, it should be little surprise for those who read and believe the Bible (be they Christians or Jews) that people from all nations come up to Jerusalem during Sukkot.

 

Sukkot is a harvest festival. It occurs just after the summer harvest has been gathered, and the first fruits of that harvest are to be brought up to Jerusalem as a sacrifice to God (Leviticus 23). Sukkot is also known as the Feast of Ingathering, which, like most things in the Bible, has a physical and a spiritual meaning.

 

In the physical, that passage refers to the harvest season, and to offering a thanksgiving sacrifice to God for His provision. In the spiritual, many Bible teachers believe this is speaking of an ingathering of the nations that will be drawn close to God by the Word He gave through Israel.

 

Sukkot also has tremendous messianic overtones, and is closely related to the closing of Jesus' earthly ministry and his anticipated return.

 

The seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah, or the Great Supplication. During Hoshana Rabbah, Jews of faith will wave palm branches while calling out to God for salvation and for the coming of Messiah.

 

Psalm 118 is recited, and special emphasis is put on verse 26: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord..."

 

Jesus' early followers, being all Jewish themselves, made use of these messianic Sukkot traditions when welcoming him into Jerusalem:

 

"As they approached Jerusalem... A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hoshana to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hoshana in the highest!" (Matthew 21:1, 8-9)

 

As they had been for generations, the Jews of that time were anxiously awaiting their conquering King Messiah, and so greeted Jesus with those signs and symbols they had been taught during Sukkot. But Jesus had other plans, knowing that he must first conquer death and fulfill the spiritual aspects of redemption by allowing the shedding of his blood for the people's sins.

 

Jesus was coming to die, not to reign. But he did acknowledge that the Sukkot traditions were accurate when he told the people they would "not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,'" a clear reference to the Sukkot prayers.

 

And so it is that those Christians who have reconnected to their Hebraic biblical roots join the Jews in viewing Sukkot as the season in which Messiah will arrive and establish his kingdom from Jerusalem.

 

Is it any wonder that so many Christians would desire to be in Jerusalem at the time of Sukkot?

 

Ryan Jones writes for  Travelujah, a Christian social network focused on fostering a deeper connection with faith through Holy Land tours. You can plan, learn and share your holy land experience on Travelujah using our in-depth locational content, user and expert blogs that can take you off the beaten track, and individual or group tour booking services.


September 27, 2012September 27, 2012  1 comments  Events

It's that time of year again when people from all nations of the world prepare to come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the biblical Feast of Tabernacles both in obedience to several biblical injunctions and in anticipation of prophesied future events.

 

ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles

ICEJ Opening Night Feast of Tabernacles

 

As always, the premier event is the Feast of Tabernacles celebration hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) at the Jerusalem Convention Center from September 30-October 4.

 

The theme of this year's Feast is "The Spirit of Grace and Supplication," and it looks to improve on upon what has for decades been a very successful gathering of Christians in support of Israel's restoration.

 

Travelujah spoke with ICEJ Media Director David Parsons about the event.

 

DAvid Parsons

 

Travelujah: How many people are you expecting to attend the Feast?

 

Parsons: We are expecting our usual numbers of around 5,000 Christians from some 90 nations. Groups are still registering but that is where we should wind up. Our opening event at Ein Gedi may top that figure alone with the local attendance added in.

 

Travelujah: What changes will there be this year to the traditional schedule?

 

Parsons: First, we are moving our traditional Communion Night Service to the Garden Tomb this year. We will have over 3,000 of our Feast pilgrims taking part in two separate Communion Services at the Garden Tomb on Monday,  October 1.

 

In addition, we are cooperating with the Knesset Christian Allies' Caucus and the International Israel Allies Foundation to co-sponsor their annual "Chairmens' Conference" in Jerusalem at the same time as our Feast. This means that we will have up to 25 MPs from foreign parliaments here attending the Feast as well as the Chairmen's Conference.

 

The annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, sponsored by Eagles' Wings Ministries, will also be held as part of our Feast this year, on Wednesday afternoon, October 3, in the Jerusalem Convention Center.

 

Travelujah: What about excursions during the Feast?

 

Parsons: We have several bus tours, including:

 

‘Start-Up Nation' Tour

Visit to the futuristic showroom of Better Place and tour of the Microsoft offices in Herzliya.

 

Home Front Preparedness Tour

With a former IDF Home Front Command officer as guide, the tour will visit the newest Magen David Adom emergency response center and the world's largest bomb-proof underground emergency room recently built at Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

 

Tour to Settlement of Efrat for Interfaith Dialogue

This tour takes pilgrims to the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in the community of Efrat, where renowned Rabbi Shlomo Riskin will teach on the "Ends of Days" from a Jewish perspective.

 

Israel's Foes Past-to-Present

Kay Wilson, a noted Israeli tour guide, offers a special journey through the strategic and beautiful Elah Valley which will trace Israel's historic enemies down through time, right up to the present.  The tour examines in order the Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Islamic invaders, right up to the Palestinian Arabs of today.

 

ICEJ AID Visits with Gaza Evacuee Families

The ICEJ AID Department will host a special visit to Nitzan, a community near Ashdod established in the wake of the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza to house hundreds of Jewish families evacuated from the Gush Katif settlement bloc. The tour will show how the Christian Embassy has been helping the Gaza evacuee families and witness the delivery of a portable bomb shelter being donated by the ICEJ to protect the community's children from rocket barrages from Gaza.

 

Travelujah: Do you see an increase in Christian awareness of and interest in Tabernacles and other biblical holy days?

 

Parsons: This will be the 33rd year of the ICEJ's Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and it is a biblical festival that is indeed catching on among Christians both here in Israel and across the world. For instance, the Ein Gedi celebration draws a huge crowd including over 1,000 local Christian and Messianic believers.

 

Other Christian celebrations of the Feast of Tabernacles have sprung up around the world. A couple years ago I did some web searching and counted around 250 Christian celebrations of Sukkot being held in dozens of nations. There is now even a special website that helps Christians locate a Feast celebration near them.

 

 

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Ryan Jones writes regularly for Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Peole can leqarn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


September 28, 2010September 28, 2010  0 comments  Jewish Holidays

The Book of Leviticus in chapter 19 opens with God issuing the lofty commandment to all of the Jewish people, to each and every member of the God's covenant: You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy. When the Lord revealed Himself to Moses and the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19-20), God made a covenant with the Jewish people collectively, challenging them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. But what is holiness? How does a people become holy and mirror God's presence on earth? By isolating oneself and separating from the dirty politics and mundane work of society? By engaging solely in spiritual meditation or religious ritual? It is only in these sections of Leviticus that God gives the Jewish people specific commandments and direction for achieving holy lives. The quest after holiness is the theme that unites Leviticus 19-27. We will see that according to the Torah, we become holy through everything we do: how we talk, how we farm, how we spend our money, how we celebrate holidays, how we eat, how we exercise our power and run society-but most of all, how we behave toward other people, especially those less fortunate than ourselves. These chapters are one of the most important sections of the Torah, which led the classical Rabbis to proclaim, "The main substance of the Torah is contained there."

 

holiness as ethical human relations

 

Some religions teach that holiness is achieved by living a pure monastic life, but Judaism insists that the holy life must take place in society. The majority of the commandments for achieving holiness that appear in Leviticus 19 are concerned with how we treat our fellow human beings--God's children. As an example, consider 19:13: You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him; a hired person's wages shall not remain with you until morning. This verse actually lists three prohibitions, and their common denominator is to prevent exploiting others who are weaker than us. Holiness is a result of ethical human relations that give full respect and dignity to each and every person who we interact with. We injure people when we take their physical possessions, but on a more personal level we injure them also when we damage their reputation and dignity. So the Torah demands that you shall not go about bearing tales about others.

 

equality of human beings created in the image of god

 

The Torah sums up the entire way we must relate to others with the challenge to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18). When Jesus stated this as the "Golden Rule" of Christianity, he was speaking out of the teachings of rabbinic tradition on this verse from the Jewish Bible. Before Jesus, Rabbi Hillel taught that this was the most fundamental principle of the Torah. Some medieval and modern Jewish commentators read this verse in a creative way that is both profound and beautiful. The original Hebrew grammar is ambiguous and allows one to read the phrase "as yourself" as describing the neighbor who we are commanded to love, not the way we should love others. So these commentators understood the commandment to say, "Love your neighbor because he is like yourself." They explain that every person has equal dignity and equal sanctity because each and every one of us is created in God's holy image (Genesis 1:26). We are all God's children, made equal under the Fatherhood of God, and we bring God into the world and make it holy by treating others as equals, with justice, compassion and dignity.

 

holiness in time: the festivals and sukkot

 

Leviticus 23 describes the annual cycle of Jewish holy festivals. (The word "holidays" is derived from "holy days.") Religious holidays are ways we sanctify time, making it holy and using it to direct our thoughts and actions to God. One of the major holidays is "Sukkot" (Hebrew for "booths") that occurs every fall. The Torah states, seven days you shall dwell in sukkot; every native Israelite shall dwell in sukkot so your future generations shall know that I made the children of Israel dwell in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt (23:43). Religious Jews from biblical times until today erect temporary huts where they eat and sleep during this festival in order to fulfill this biblical command. The Torah issues this commandment not to make us historians of biblical history, but to remind us that we are dependent on God's grace and blessings. Our greatest possessions-including our permanent homes-do not give us security or blessing. Only God's benevolence and concern for us can provide that. We all belong to God and are dependent on Him. We must have gratitude for the daily miracles He performs to sustain each one of us, whether it be shelter, health or food.

 

According to Jewish law, the booths in which Jews dwell cannot have a permanent roof and must be exposed to the heavens. It is as if the act of sitting in sukkot says to us, "Look what is above you, the heavens. See who created all these things and accept the yoke of God's kingship." "The prophet Zechariah had a vision (chapter 14) that in messianic times all the nations of the world will come to Jerusalem and observe the holiday of Sukkot. The meaning of this event is that all the people of the earth will come to recognize God and His sovereignty over all the world. Today thousands of evangelical Christians make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the festival of Sukkot to be witnesses to God's sovereignty.

 

the jubilee year

 

The Torah also gives us spiritual direction in how we till the soil and treat those who are economically indebted and subordinate to us. Chapter 25:1-7 instructs the Jewish people to let the land to lie fallow every seven years. Jews are not allowed to sow or harvest crops during that year. The goal of this prohibition is to teach us that "The earth and its fullness belong to God." We are only caretakers of the land that is not ours. In addition, during that seventh year debts are forgiven, so that each person can start anew and not be subordinated to another person for his entire life. God once again tries to equalize us-this time economically.

 

After seven cycles of seven years, God demands that we proclaim the "year of Jubilee:" You shall sanctify the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to its inhabitants. ...You shall return every man to his possession and return every man to his family (25:8-10). In addition to servants being freed in the Jubilee year, any land that a person was forced to sell out of poverty reverts back to the original owner or his family. The Jubilee year was designed to counter our natural instincts to acquire property to aggrandize ourselves and again to remind us that ultimately, everything belongs to God. In verse 55, God states: For the children of Israel are My servants, i.e. my servants and not servants to other human beings. Being a servant of the Lord is inconsistent with permanent subjugation to another human being. Here the Torah teaches us that being God's servant should ensure freedom from poverty, as well as equality and dignity for all. When we build a society where these values are secure, we build a holy society.

 

sanctifying god's name

 

Being a holy people means following these commandments designed to create a holy society in which each person is treated with dignity that reflects his Divine Image. When we do this, we become witnesses to the authority and holiness of God. This is what the Torah means in Leviticus 22:31-33: You shall observe my commandments and do them, I am the Lord....I will be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel. I am the Lord Who sanctifies you. Our religious mission is to be holy, to sanctify our lives, and to create a place in our world where God can enter.

 

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn is the North American Director of The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat, Israel.  For more information on the Center or to visit and learn with rabbinic scholars about the Hebraic roots of Christianity, please visit www.cjcuc.com or email the Executive Director, David Nekrutman, at davidnekrutman@gmail.com. Travelujah partners with the CJCUC by providing specialized Holy Land tours for Christians seeking to visit Israel in a biblical journey that offers tailor made "meet the people" experiences including learning about Jewish roots.For more information contact Travelujah or email elisamoed@travelujah.com

 

 

Tags: leviticus sukkot 

September 11, 2012September 11, 2012  0 comments  Jewish Holidays

One of the most significant feasts of Israel, Rosh Hashanah, will begin at sundown, September 16, 2012 marking the beginning of the Jewish high holiday season - which will continue until October 8, 2012. What is the meaning of the several Jewish holidays that will be taking place this year during this period?

Preparing for the Jewish New Year -Repentence

The period preceding the Jewish New Year is marked by special penitential prayers, recited before the regular morning prayers, and the blowing of the ram's horn (shofar in Hebrew) after the morning prayer service. Jews of North African and Middle Eastern origin began to recite these special prayers on 20 August; Jews of European origin began to recite them on 8/9 September). These special prayers are said daily (except on the New Year holiday itself and the Sabbath) until the day before Yom Kippur (25 September).


Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah (the two-day Jewish new year), whose observance is mandated by Leviticus 23:23-25, will begin at sunset on Sunday, 16 September and conclude at nightfall on Tuesday, 18 September. Both days are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings.

The centerpiece of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar during morning prayers. (The shofar is not sounded on the Sabbath should either of the two days fall on Saturday.) Both days are full public holidays and, as on the Sabbath, there will be no public transportation or newspapers. In addition, many businesses, museums and other institutions, which are normally open on the Sabbath, will be closed over the holiday. The GPO will be closed on Sunday-Tuesday, 16-18 September, inclusive.

Rosh Hashanah is also characterized by two special customs. The first is the eating of apple slices dipped in honey, symbolizing the hope that the coming year will be "sweet." The second involves going to a natural source of flowing water (such as an ocean, river, or spring), reading a selection of scriptural verses and casting pieces of bread into the water - to symbolize the "casting off" of the previous year's sins; this practice derives from Micah 7:19 ("...and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.") This ceremony takes place on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (or on the second, if the first day falls on the Sabbath).


The Period Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur


The ten days between New Year and Yom Kippur (inclusive) are known as "The Ten Days of Repentance". Jewish tradition maintains that this is a time of judgment when all people and nations are called to account for their deeds of the past year, and when their particular fates for the coming year are decided.

The day after the New Year holiday is a day of fasting known as The Fast of Gedaliah, and commemorates the murder of Gedaliah, the Jewish governor of Judea, who was appointed by the Babylonians after they captured Jerusalem in 586 BCE; the episode is recounted in II Kings 25:22-25. When the day after Rosh Hashanah is a Saturday, the fast is postponed by one day. Accordingly, the fast will extend from sunrise on Wednesday, 19 September this year, until nightfall the same day. Special scriptural readings are recited, but the day is not a public holiday.

A single Sabbath, known as the "Sabbath of Repentance", always occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This Sabbath (22 September this year) is marked by a special reading from Hosea 14:2-10, beginning with, "Return, Israel, unto the Lord your God."


Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur (Hebrew for "The Day of Atonement") begins at sunset on Tuesday, 25 September, and concludes at nightfall on Wednesday, 26 September. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 16:29-31 and 23:27-32. The holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur is the day on which, according to Jewish tradition, our fates for the coming year are sealed. Synagogue services - centering on the penitential prayers - will continue for most of the day and include special scriptural readings (including the Book of Jonah in the afternoon). Memorial prayers for the deceased, said four times a year, are recited on Yom Kippur. At nightfall, the shofar is sounded once to mark the end of Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is a full public holiday in Israel and almost all establishments, including the GPO, will be closed (The GPO will be closed Tuesday-Wednesday, 25-26 September.) There will be no radio or television broadcasts. Since Yom Kippur is a day of introspection, completely separate from the normal course of daily life - the physical aspects of our lives are sublimated while we concentrate on our spiritual concerns - the day is marked by a full (sunset to sunset) fast. The wearing of leather, the use of cosmetics, bathing and marital relations are likewise forbidden.


Sukkot

The seven-day Sukkot festival, mandated by Leviticus 23:34-35 and 23:39-43, begins at sunset on Sunday, 30 September and concludes at nightfall on Monday, 7 October. The first day, from sunset on Sunday, 30 September, until nightfall on Monday, 1 October, is a full public holiday. All seven days of the holiday are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings - including the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is read on Saturday, 6 October. Sukkot is a joyful, family oriented holiday, which follows - and provides a contrast to - the somber, introspective and private character of Yom Kippur. Many businesses and institutions will either close or operate on a reduced basis. The GPO will be closed from 30 September-8 October, inclusive, and will reopen on Monday, 9 October.

Sukkot is characterized by two main practices. Jews are enjoined to build, take all of their meals in, and (if possible) sleep in, temporary huts topped with thatch or palm fronds during the festival. These huts (sukkot in Hebrew) commemorate the temporary, portable dwellings in which the Jewish people lived during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness that followed their liberation from slavery in Egypt. The second main Sukkot observance is the special bouquet - consisting of a closed palm frond, a citron, a myrtle branch and a willow branch - that is held during morning prayers on each of the seven days (except the Sabbath); its origins derive from Leviticus 23:40, many traditional explanations of its symbolism have been cited.


Shemini Atzeret (Simhat Torah)


The Shemini Atzeret (literally "The Eighth Day of Assembly" in Hebrew) holiday immediately follows the last day of Sukkot, beginning at sunset on Sunday, 7 October and concluding at nightfall on Monday, 8 October. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 23:36. It is a full public holiday. (Even though it follows the seven-day Sukkot festival and is often considered part of Sukkot, it is, in fact, a separate holiday. The special bouquet is not used and the obligation to sit in the sukkot no longer applies.) The day's prayer services include the memorial prayers for the deceased, as well as the prayer for plentiful rainfall during the coming winter.

Shemini Atzeret, however, centers around its special scriptural readings. On Shemini Atzeret, the yearly cycle of Torah (the first five books of the Bible, i.e. Genesis to Deuteronomy, one section of which is read on each Sabbath during the year) readings is both completed and begun anew. This event is accompanied by dancing and singing, sometimes continuing for several hours; in religious neighborhoods, these celebrations often spill out into the streets. Thus, the holiday is also referred to as Simhat Torah ("Rejoicing of the Torah" in Hebrew).

 

 


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