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eTeacherBiblical Official Newsletter
Issue #87 - 10/11
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Eli Dahan

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Sukkoth- the time to read the Torah

 Sukkoth is the time to assemble. This is the time when we can sit in one place, near the house and not in it, in order to celebrate the Festival of Sukkoth. As a Biblical Hebrew teacher I always had a dream to teach people in the Sukkah. In the Hebrew Bible, we can find this Festival's first appearance with a different name in Exodus 23:16-
 

"...וְחַג הָאָסִף בְּצֵאת הַשָּׁנָה, בְּאָסְפְּךָ אֶת-מַעֲשֶׂיךָ מִן-הַשָּׂדֶה"

"…and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field."

Sukkah

The name of the Festival here relates to of the agricultural seasons, this is the time when you gather all your produce from the field- you gather with people when you gather the yield!
The next appearance is found in Leviticus 23:33-43, as written:

" וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵאמֹר: בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר יוֹם, לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי הַזֶּה, חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים, לַיהוָה. בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ; כָּל-מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדָה, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ. שִׁבְעַת יָמִים, תַּקְרִיבוּ אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה; בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה, עֲצֶרֶת הִוא--כָּל-מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדָה, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ. אֵלֶּה מוֹעֲדֵי יְהוָה, אֲשֶׁר-תִּקְרְאוּ אֹתָם מִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ: לְהַקְרִיב אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה, עֹלָה וּמִנְחָה זֶבַח וּנְסָכִים--דְּבַר-יוֹם בְּיוֹמוֹ. מִלְּבַד, שַׁבְּתֹת יְהוָה; וּמִלְּבַד מַתְּנוֹתֵיכֶם, וּמִלְּבַד כָּל-נִדְרֵיכֶם וּמִלְּבַד כָּל-נִדְבֹתֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ, לַיהוָה. אַךְ בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי, בְּאָסְפְּכֶם אֶת-תְּבוּאַת הָאָרֶץ, תָּחֹגּוּ אֶת-חַג-יְהוָה, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים; בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן שַׁבָּתוֹן, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי שַׁבָּתוֹן. וּלְקַחְתֶּם לָכֶם בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, פְּרִי עֵץ הָדָר כַּפֹּת תְּמָרִים, וַעֲנַף עֵץ-עָבֹת, וְעַרְבֵי-נָחַל; וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם--שִׁבְעַת יָמִים. וְחַגֹּתֶם אֹתוֹ חַג לַיהוָה, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה: חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם, בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי תָּחֹגּוּ אֹתוֹ. בַּסֻּכֹּת תֵּשְׁבוּ, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים; כָּל-הָאֶזְרָח, בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, יֵשְׁבוּ, בַּסֻּכֹּת. לְמַעַן, יֵדְעוּ דֹרֹתֵיכֶם, כִּי בַסֻּכּוֹת הוֹשַׁבְתִּי אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּהוֹצִיאִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם"

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD. Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

In Leviticus, things are getting clearer. There is a specific date to Sukkoth; also, the name and the place appear here. If someone would ask how I should celebrate Sukkoth – the answer is here. The Sages of Israel explained in the time of the Mishnah how to build the Sukkah correctly, what are the do's and don'ts allowed.
However, sitting in the Sukkah wasn't enough for G-d. He also added an important commandment that happens every seven years, as we can read in Deuteronomy 31:10-13-

Join us to read the Torah

"וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה, אוֹתָם לֵאמֹר: מִקֵּץ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים, בְּמֹעֵד שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה--בְּחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת. בְּבוֹא כָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵרָאוֹת אֶת-פְּנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בַּמָּקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר: תִּקְרָא אֶת-הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת, נֶגֶד כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל--בְּאָזְנֵיהֶם. הַקְהֵל אֶת-הָעָם, הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף, וְגֵרְךָ, אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ--לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ, וְיָרְאוּ אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת, אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת. וּבְנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ, יִשְׁמְעוּ וְלָמְדוּ--לְיִרְאָה, אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם: כָּל-הַיָּמִים, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל-הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן שָׁמָּה, לְרִשְׁתָּהּ"

"And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it."

I hope that all of us will be able to Learn Biblical Hebrew one day in order to enjoy the reading of the Torah. This is not something for the Israelites. According to the book of Zechariah, all the nations that will remain in the world should come to Jerusalem and celebrate Sukkoth, as we can read in Zechariah 14:16-

"וְהָיָה, כָּל-הַנּוֹתָר מִכָּל-הַגּוֹיִם, הַבָּאִים, עַל-יְרוּשָׁלִָם; וְעָלוּ מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְשָׁנָה, לְהִשְׁתַּחֲו‍ֹת לְמֶלֶךְ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, וְלָחֹג, אֶת-חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת"

"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles"

Happy New Year to all of you. see you in class, Eli.
 

 
Main phrases of the post + transcription + translation

Hebrew -Transcription -Translation

יְרוּשָׁלִָם-yərûšālāyim-Jerusalem

אָסִף-'āsif- Ingathering

סֻּכּוֹת-sukkôt- Sukkoth

חַג-chag-Feast

הַקְהֵל-haqhēl-Gather

שֶׁבַע-šev'a-Seven
 

 
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