Sukkot in Israel: A Personal Experience of a Local Believer
Local Believer Shares Personal Experience on Sukkot
Every year in this season, my family and I build a Sukkah (“booth”) on our patio overlooking the Judean Hills. What is a Sukkah, you may ask? It is a small, boxy structure, built on either wood or metal poles, wrapped around with cloth for its walls, and covered with either palm leaves or bamboo sticks for a roof.
Building a Sukkah is something I look forward to every year since becoming a father. The kids get so excited as they help me build it, and then decorate it with their very own paper crafts, which they make at school and at home.
Feast of Tabernacles
In my time of personal reflection this season, I was thinking about the reason why we do what we do. Is it just tradition? Or is there something much deeper? Every year at Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) we sit in our Sukkah, we sing and celebrate, and I remind my family of the wonderful verses from Leviticus 23:39–43:
On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. ‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.
You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the LORD.
The fact that we can do this very thing today – in our home just outside of Jerusalem, in the Land that was promised to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob – is nothing short of a miracle!
Sukkot in Israel
Over the years, our family has adopted a tradition on this special holiday: at dinnertime in the Sukkah we go around the table and share something for which we are thankful. We remember God’s faithfulness to the Children of Israel during the 40 years in the wilderness. And then we share reasons for gratitude from our own lives. Why do we do this? Because the LORD instructed us to!
The children of Israel lived in these booths temporarily in the wilderness, all the while looking forward to the day when they would reach the Promised Land. Today, as children of God, we are to remember that this home on earth is our temporary home. Because we look forward for our everlasting home with Him! As we dine in our Sukkah, we look to the day when we will worship Him in the New Jerusalem.
Sukkot is also a time of reflection on how God brought me out of my personal “Egypt”. As I look at all He has blessed me with today and reflect on the way He provided for me during this journey, I am humbled. The fact is that the same God who delivered my people years ago from bondage is the same God we believe in today! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
People tend to take blessings for granted. And we tend to easily forget. It’s part of our human nature. I believe God knew this about us from the creation of the world. This is one of the reasons He gave us His feasts, the appointed times – so we remember.
The mo’adim (appointed times) in the Scriptures serve as a reminder to the children of Israel of God’s amazing faithfulness. They are fixed times when we remember the incredible miracles that He has done on our behalf, for His glory. They are times when we remember how much we need Him in our lives.
What are the Jewish High Holidays? When did they originate and how are they celebrated today?
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