Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sukkot agricultural festival

The joyous celebration of Sukkot begins tomorrow at sundown.

Rabbi Scheinerman explains the meaning of this seasonal harvest festival:
Sukkot marks the autumn harvest time. It is a festival devoted to thanksgiving for the abundance of life. In ancient times, the final agricultural harvest took place in the beginning of the autumn and following the intensely busy work of harvesting people would celebrate their abundance and give thanks to God. In time, the festival of Sukkot came to be associated with the Forty Years of Wandering in the Wilderness, as well. Since crops must be harvested quickly, once they ripen, farmers often built for themselves small temporary booths out in their fields so that they could take advantage of every minutes of daylight once the crops were ready to be picked. These temporary booths were associated with the temporary shelters built by our ancestors after they left Egypt when, for 40 years, they wander through the wilderness of Sinai, before entering the Land of Israel.