Succot is not another building block in the Judaic world of ideas. Unlike other Jewish festivals, it doesn’t highlight a unique idea.
Pesach encourages liberty, Shavuot celebrates Torah, Rosh Hashanah highlights accountability and Yom Kippur facilitates harmony between ourselves and God. Succot is not consistent with this pattern. Rather than contributing an idea to the final Judaic product, Succot is the final product itself.
Earning liberty, accepting the Torah, living a life of accountability, reconciliation and harmony, all add up to Succot.
There are two cycles of biblical Jewish festivals. One is the cycle of the three festivals; Pesach, Shavuot and Succot. The second consists of the festivals belonging to the seventh month of the Jewish year: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succot. Indeed, both cycles lead to and culminate with Succot.
As the final product of the festival journey, Succot invites us to live in the idealistic instead of the realistic, enabling joy. Succot is the festival of happiness, Chag Simchateynu. Succot evenings are celebrated with music, singing, and dancing.
During the day, we joyfully praise and appreciate God by
reciting Hallel with the four species (representing our livelihood). During the week, we happily live and socialise in a succah, which represents a simple home – all we really need.
Jewish festivals introduce and contribute ideas that combine to inspire a life of deep joy, genuine appreciation, trust in the future, love of Torah, elegant simplicity, and celebration. Succot embodies these to create a beautiful celebration of life.
Boruch M Boudilovsky is rabbi of Young Israel of North Netanya