One of the principle practices of Sukkot is the building of temporary booths which are used as dining areas and (if possible) as sleeping quarters during the seven day festival. These Sukkot (booths/huts) commemorate the temporary, portable dwellings in which we, the Jewish people lived during our 40 year sojourn in the wilderness following our liberation from slavery in Egypt. The Festival of Sukkot is one of the three Biblically mandated festivals “Shalosh Regalim” during which Jews are commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.
According to the prophet Zechariah (14:16-19), in “Le’Atid LaVo – In the future to come” messianic era, the Festival of Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages to Jerusalem. In the meantime here are some photographs of a succah (booth) built by three families who for the past 25 years have been sharing happy Sukkot holiday times together. Each year these families create a succah whose walls include the traditional theme of the holiday along with three modern themes that are important to them.
Following is a view of the exterior of the succah. The cloth covering the exterior and part of the interior is from an earlier time when all three families were much smaller and therefore needed less space.
Here is the traditional wall, from left to right a poster naming all of the “Ushpizin” (honored Biblical guests), a middle ages view of the Old City of Jerusalem with the Tower of David, the seven food species that the Land of Israel was blessed with and a hand made poster declaring “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18).
The first of the modern themes is “Friendship” it connects to the Biblical concepts of honored guests and loving one’s neighbor. The central feature of this wall was the beautiful collage created by the middle generation of the three families. It also includes two sayings: “Friendship multiplies the goodness of life” and from Proverbs (27:10) “Better a good neighbor than a far away brother”.
The second of the modern themes is “The Wall of Optimism”. Also visible in this first photograph is the set holiday table and the palm fronds which provide the roof.
As is typical for desert peoples optimism includes the strong desire for a great deal of rain during the winter season. This is represented by rain clouds, spring flowers and the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) water meter reaching its maximum height.
But desert people also enjoy rainbows and sunshine and these two along with two smiling faces also appear on “The Wall of Optimism”
In the center of “The Wall of Optimism” is tiny bit of magical wishful thinking a poster calling for a stop to the increase in apartment prices … of course dreaming is part of being positive!
The fourth theme combined the desire for world peace and environmental protection.
The three families along with all other residents of Jerusalem and surrounding areas received a special holiday bonus: in the middle of their festive dinner everyone got just a tiny bit wet during the brief but powerful rain storm complete with thunder and lightening! Alas, palm fronds don’t provide all that much protection from the rain and reminded everyone that while the succah is temporary, good times with family and friends last forever.
Photographs by Isa David-Ben-Rafael owned by IsraeLightly Blog.