By: Moran Rosenblit
Originally Published in 2014
Every year, at this time of the year, my family and I build a Sukkah (“booth”) on our patio. What is a Sukkah, you may ask? It is a small, boxy structure, built from either wood or metal poles, wrapped around with cloth for its walls, and covered with either palm leaves or a bamboo roof. Building our family Sukkah is something I have looked forward to since becoming a father. The kids get so excited as they help me build it, and then decorate it with their own paper creations, which they make at school and at home.
During the past years, a family tradition started in our home because of this special holiday, where we go around the table at dinnertime, while sitting in the Sukkah, and share something for which we are thankful.
Why do we do this? Because the LORD instructed us to!
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.
During Sukkot, we remember God’s faithfulness to the Children of Israel during the 40 years in the wilderness. It was during that time the people of Israel lived in temporary shelters, Sukkahs (booths or tabernacles), and saw the faithfulness of God to provide for their needs on a daily basis. It is very important for us to teach our children about God’s faithfulness, and what He has done not just in the past for the Children of Israel, but also what He is doing for us today. We share the wonderful story of God’s redemption of our people from Egypt, and the connection that we have today of His wonderful redemption through His Son.
There is also another element of Sukkot, which God lays out in the book of Deuteronomy, as an act of tithing:
Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
We see here that God’s Word commands the Children of Israel to go to a place of His choosing, in three specific appointed times (Passover, Shavuot, & Sukkot), in order to give back to Him a small portion of all that He has provided for us. Sukkot is clearly a significant holiday to our God!
It is during this special time that we can once again reflect on the abundance that God has provided, and offer thanks to Him because of it. It is important for us followers of the Messiah to not only be aware of what He has given us, but also to be thankful for it, and know how to give back what belongs to Him in the first place.
In closing, just as the Children of Israel temporarily lived in these booths in the wilderness, all the while looking forward to the day they would reach the Promised Land, so it is for us as His Followers. We are to remember that this home for us is a temporary home, and look forward for our everlasting home with Him, when we will come and worship Him in the New Jerusalem.
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