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6 intriguing facts about the Feast of Tabernacles
(plus a surprise bonus fact)
by Helen Mitchell | September 30, 2020 | Israel

The Feast of Tabernacles - or Sukkot, as it's known in Hebrew - is all about taking a break from the complexity of life and rediscovering the simple art of joyfulness.

It is a week-long feast that remembers God's faithfulness to the Israelites as they journeyed through the desert on their way to the Promised Land.

To this day, Jews celebrate the goodness of the Lord during Sukkot. But it's not only Jews who are invited to the party. Gentiles, too, have a pivotal part to play at Sukkot.

Here are six fascinating facts to help you enter into the festive joy:

1) The sukkah becomes a second home during Sukkot

On Mount Sinai, God commanded the Israelites to build booths (or tabernacles) every year at Sukkot and dwell in them for 7 days. This was to remember the 40 years that the children of Israel lived in temporary dwellings in the desert. Sukkah is the Hebrew word for tabernacle.

In Israel, during Sukkot, you can see these festive tabernacles outside homes, on balconies, in gardens and public spaces. Families often eat meals and entertain guests in the sukkah. Older kids love to sleep out under the stars in their holiday booth.

2) The top of the sukkah is covered with organic material

Sukkot booths mustn't have closed roofs because you have to be able to see the stars above your head. But they must also provide shade from the sun. To meet these requirements, the booths are built with open roofs and palm branches or other natural materials on top.

The organic matter is a reminder of the years the Israelites lived a simple life in the desert in harmony with nature, sustained each day by their Creator God.

It also represents the end-of-summer harvest, which is celebrated at Sukkot.

3) "Four species" of fruits and branches are waved in the sukkah

In keeping with the Sukkot focus on God's natural creation, the Jewish people are commanded to wave a bundle of vegetation in their festive booths. This organic cluster contains "four species" of branches and fruits:

  • Etrog (citron fruit)
  • Lulav (frond of date palm)
  • Hadass (myrtle bough)
  • Aravah (willow branch)

4) The first night of Sukkot is always a full moon

The Hebrew calendar is based on the moon's orbit, and each Jewish month begins with a new moon. Sukkot falls on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is the apex of the moon's monthly cycle. On this night,the moon is directly aligned with the sun and fully illuminated.

5) Sukkot was a pilgrimage festival

In ancient times, there were three occasions in the year when Jewish people made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in the Temple. Sukkot was one of these holy feasts, along with Passover and Shavuot.

6) After the end of days, all nations will come to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot

The Prophet Zechariah tells of a time after the end of days battle in Jerusalem when Gentiles from the nations will come up to the city to celebrate Sukkot. In this future age, non-Jews who recognize the God of Israel will make an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles and join in the festive celebrations.

Now, here's a surprise bonus fact. At Lev Haolam, we carry a Sukkot vision in our hearts. Not only do we long to see the flow of blessings between Israel and the nations, but we are also passionate about the wonders of God's natural creation.

Take a look at our packages and you'll see just how many organic, naturally-sourced products we include. This is our all-year Sukkot gift to you!