Temporary Dwellings – The Jewish Holiday of Sukot (Booths)

  • The world is a temporary dwelling, the afterlife is forever
  • Doing good deeds will bring you eternal happiness
  • God chooses special people to become his prophets in each generation

After the high holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur starting the New Year, the Jewish people begin to build on their porches and in the streets temporary dwellings called Sukot or booths.  These booths are symbolic of the housing quarters in which the Jewish people lived in for forty years wandering in the wilderness of Sinai. The generation of the wilderness has the possibility to cross over into Israel in a short time since the distance between the Sinai Peninsula and Israel is not long only requiring to cross over the Jordan River to reach Israel. However God had for them other plans and they were ordered by God to wait forty years with Moses their leader before entering Israel. Moses did not enter Israel but he sent his disciple Joshua to lead the people into Israel.

On Sukkot, Jews are also commanded to take on the first day, a special fruit, palm branches, with two types of branches to make on these four species a blessing called Lulav and Esrog.

The Bible records that life for Jews in the wilderness of Sinai was very spiritual. They were not required to prepare foods but food fell down from heaven each morning called Manna. Living in the dry wilderness would seem impossible if not for a well, a natural spring which travelled with them through the 42 journeys in the wilderness recorded in the Bible.  They had a cloud of glory traveling with them which protected the people from wild beasts. Another miracle was that their clothing did not have to be replaced but never withered. All these miracles are mentioned in the five books of Moses.

On the holiday of Sukot which begins four days after the high holy fast day of Yom Kippur, the religious custom is to build these temporary huts for daily life the seven days of the holiday, eating, drinking and sleeping. Living in a temporary dwelling teaches that the world is only temporary. This life of up to one hundred and twenty years the age in which Moses died is a corridor leading to the next world the afterlife. In the afterlife is received the reward for all the good deeds performed in this short 120 years. The afterlife is divided into two realms of eternal existence which are the eternal life of the soul in the Garden of Eden, the place where souls are born before coming into this world and the revival of the dead, the eternal life given to the physical bodies of people after death in resurrection. A man is a soul which is eternal in a natural physical body which is temporary. Through the blessing of God in the resurrection the body will also be eternal like the souls and angels. On Sukkot, Jews are also commanded to take on the first day, a special fruit, palm branches, with two types of branches to make on these four species a blessing called Lulav and Esrog.

In Judaism the Jewish people have specific precepts which they follow in their lives. For these specific precepts of the Torah, they receive a special share in the afterlife for Jews. These precepts include the commandment of keeping the Sabbath, circumcism, holiday observance the three major holidays Passover, Weeks, and Sukot. It also includes the observance of all the 613 commandments of the Torah which are impossible to keep today. Some of these commandments are impossible to keep which are connected to living in the land of Israel and building a holy temple in Jerusalem. Jews are waiting for the Messiah to come to fulfill these commandments.

In the Universal Faith mankind is rewarded for their devotion to help their fellow man like Health Workers who have saved lives from Corona Pandemic.

The Jewish people have been given in their religion a specific way of serving God. There is also a general way of serving God in the Universal faith. The hard work which is done by people in their everyday lives which includes raising a family, their professions and good deeds of charity and love of their fellow man is rewarded by God in the afterlife.

Every human being is commanded to recognize their creator through simple faith accepting the teachings of the Bible or through knowledge. Not every person merits to know God in their lives. The knowledge of God comes as a special gift which is associated with the Messiah. Moses was the Messiah for the Jewish people that left Egypt described in Exodus the second book of the five books of Moses.

On Mount Sinai the Jewish people merited to the revelation of God given to them by their prophet Moses. This moment of revelation is recorded in the Bible Exodus 20, also called the giving of the Ten Commandments. Those people who were present received the highest spiritual revelation. All Jews are connected to the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai through their religion the Torah for all generations. Only the Jews of the generation of the wilderness who lived with Moses experiencing these miracles are called the generation of Godly revelation. After entering Israel, Jews are asked to believe in God with simple faith which is not always easy especially when times are difficult like today during the Corona Pandemic.

To continue simple faith needs work, like the learning of the Bible texts including the esoteric Jewish texts like the Zohar which came into Judaism in the last eight hundred years. All mankind today have been given a way to live righteously according to the teachings of the Bible which have been introduced by prophets which have come into the world throughout the six thousand years of creation.

When people will see the Booths which Jews will be building this week in their neighborhoods throughout the world, it should be for them a lesson. The world is a temporary place, a corridor toward the more spiritual and eternal world which will be revealed in the end of times. Maintain simple faith in God and continue to work to build the Kingship of God on earth through service and good deeds. Don’t give up faith. Maintain your faith through prayer. Prayer does not require to go pray with a congregation but can be made at home or in the fields through opening your heart to God in your own mother tongue. Reserve a time each day for silent meditation and prayer. Give charity and live with mercy and love for your fellow man.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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