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Sukkot ( Hebrew סֻכּוֹת, un-dotted notation סוכות, Plural of סֻכָּה Sukkah , German , Tabernacles ' , Yiddish Sukkes or Sikkes ) or Feast of Tabernacles is one of the Jewish festivals . The festival is celebrated in autumn, five days after the Day of Atonement , in September or October, and lasts seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of Tishri , the first month of the civil Jewish calendar . In Israel and in the Liberal Judaism only the first day is a full holiday, in Orthodox and Conservative communities of the Diaspora on the other hand, the first two days, while the following days are half-holidays (חול המועד Chol HaMoed ) are. The last day of Sukkot will beהושענא רבה Called Hoschana Rabba and is considered the last day until which the divine judgments for the year can still be changed. Immediately close to the Feast of Tabernaclesשְׁמִינִי עֲצֶרֶת Shmini Azeret , “the eighth day of the meeting”, andשִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה Simchat Torah , “the festival of Torah joy”.


Hebrew Bible

Sukkah on a roof in the West Jerusalem district of Rechavia (1939)

Like the other two Jewish pilgrimage festivals, Pesach and Shavuot , the festival, which is mentioned several times in the Torah, is of rural and probably Canaanite origin and has a dual historical and agricultural character in common with them.

Even in antiquity, the festival has changed significantly over the centuries, which is reflected in the biblical and post-biblical texts. In the federal book it is referred to as the "festival of collecting " ( Chag haʾAssif , Ex 23.16-19  EU and Ex 34.22  EU ) and only in the festival calendar of the Book of Leviticus as the " tabernacle " ( Chag haSukkot , Lev 23.34  EU ) with a seven-day duration. The Deuteronomy connects it to the characteristic of this book motif of festive joy:

“You are to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have stored the grain from the threshing floor and the wine from the press. You should be happy at your festival, you, your son and your daughter, your slave and your slave girl, also the Levites who are entitled to live in your city areas, and the strangers, orphans and widows who live in your midst. "

- ( Dtn 16.13-14  EU )

Only after the Babylonian exile was the date set on the 15th of the seventh month and Sukkot became a historical festival, which was justified with the desert wandering after the exodus from Egypt and prescribed living in huts during the festival ( Lev 23: 33-43  EU ). The extensive calendar of sacrifices in the Book of Numbers, Chapters 28 and 29, is judged by historical-critical exegetes to be a comparatively late compilation, which is one of the most recent texts of the Pentateuch . Not only the festive calendars of the covenant book and Lev 23, but also impulses from the book of the exiled prophet Ezekiel (Ez 45.18-46.15) were processed by the priestly authors. What is special is that with the number and type of sacrificial animals a ranking of the feasts of Israel is expressed. This shows the paramount importance of the Sukkot festival week in the festival calendar of post-exilic Israel. On the 8th day of the festival week, 7 lambs and one bull, one ram and one billy goat were sacrificed; this corresponds (somewhat simplified) to what was also planned for the new moon day of each month and the festivals of Passover / Mazzot, Shavuot, "noise bubbles" ( Rosh Hashanah ) and Yom Kippur . But on the 1st to the 7th day of the Sukkot festival week, 14 lambs, two rams and a billy goat were offered as well as a number of bulls decreasing from 13 to 7 from day to day, so that in the festival week a total of 70 bulls, the most precious Sacrificial animals were to be offered.

The leaf huts were probably originally intended to mean the shade-giving shelters in the fields ( Jona 4,5  EU ), as they are still used today in the Middle East at the time of harvest. The most detailed building instructions for the booths within the Hebrew Bible are contained in the book of Nehemiah :

“Go into the mountains and fetch branches from ennobled and wild olive trees, branches from myrtle, palms and deciduous trees to build booths, as it is prescribed! Then the people went out and built huts for themselves, one on its flat roof, others in their courtyards, in the courtyards of the house of God, on the square at the water gate and on the square at the Ephraim gate. "

- ( Neh 8.15-16  EU )

These huts were no longer accommodation for the harvest workers, because they were built in the vicinity of the houses in which one lived throughout the year. "So they represent an alternative accommodation for a few days right next to your own living space. Life now takes place in them, the apartments are empty." The materials used, which are probably not meant exclusively, are connected by the fact that there are branches of Were trees that were still dense and leafy in green even at the end of the summer dry season. The fronds of the date palm could be used to weave mats that could be used to build huts. During the Sukkot festival week, the leaves dried up, making it clear that the Sukkah was a makeshift building. It offered no protection from the rain that was urgently expected to set in after the festival of Sukkot.

Tradition has it that King Solomon consecrated the temple in Jerusalem at Sukkot ( 1 Kings 8.2  EU ), and in the messianic age , according to the prophet Zechariah ( Zech 14.16-19 EU ), Sukkot becomes  a universal one associated with rain To be a festival to which all neighboring nations will make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Hellenistic and early Roman times

In ancient Judaism, the jubilee book partly had the status of an authoritative writing, even if it was ultimately not included in the canon of the Hebrew Bible. It is very interested in calendar issues. The Feast of Tabernacles is connected in the 16th chapter with the events related to the birth of Isaac as told in the Book of Genesis (angels announce to Abraham that he will have a son; Sarah , who was previously barren , becomes pregnant; she gives birth to Isaac; followed eight days later Isaac's circumcision ). In this festival aetiology, the joy of Abraham and Sarah in their common child establishes the connection to the joy of the festival in Sukkot. In chapter 32 the Feast of Tabernacles is again mentioned: The narrative of Jacob's divine revelation in Bethel is reinterpreted in a very complex way so that it represents a justification for the eighth day of the Sukkot festival week. This eighth day connects the memory of the Exodus, the promise that Israel will become a great people and the place of the sanctuary (Jerusalem, not Bethel).

The temple scroll , which is included among the Dead Sea Scrolls, knows four firstfruits for the most important products of Eretz Israel. The meaning of Sukkot as a harvest festival takes a back seat; Whether and how Sukkot should also be celebrated as a commemorative festival of the desert wandering is not known, as the text of the temple scroll has only survived in fragments. In the concept of the temple roll, the booths are not provisional apartments of the Jewish families during the festival week, but a column construction that is clearly visible from the city, a kind of arbor that is pitched on the flat roof of the building in the outer temple courtyard and where members of the upper class sit while the sacrificial animals are slaughtered in the temple.

The historian Flavius ​​Josephus describes the festival as an eight-day celebration, during which people live in huts and sacrifice in the temple; Philo of Alexandria describes it as a seven-day harvest festival with an eighth day as a coronation, under the sign of equality and justice.

In Jn 7,2.37  EU calls Jesus on the last day of Sukkot those who thirst have to be John 7.37  EU , which is interpreted in the context of that time from the first to the last day of the feast usual Water-lifting ceremony.

The Mischnatraktat Sukkah is a collection of older traditional material that goes back to the time of the Jerusalem Temple, which was destroyed by Roman troops in 70 AD . Its distinguishing feature is that the celebration of the festival is presented from the perspective of laypeople. For them, building and living in the tabernacle was of central importance; this is shown in corresponding detail. The sukkah is temporary, but real living, namely meals and overnight stays, should be possible in it. Their suitability depends in particular on the roof, which is supposed to provide shade and is pitched in the open air - i.e. not under a higher roof structure or in an interior space. If the heavy rain hoped for after Sukkot sets in during the festival week, one is released from living in the Sukkah, because it does not offer rain protection. Rain during the festival of Sukkot was seen as a sign of divine anger. After that, the hard Strauss (is Lulav ) treated from the in Lev 23.40  EU -mentioned "four species" of plants ( Hebrew אַרְבָּעָה מִינִים Arbaʿa minim ) and is shaken in a ritual manner. The Mishnah connects this shaking with the recitation of Psalm 118 (beginning, end and verse 29). It was originally practiced in the temple, after its destruction in the synagogue service. In retrospect, the Mishnah describes three other rituals that took place on the Feast of Tabernacles in the temple:

  • For the creek willow parade, cut willow branches were tucked around the burnt offering altar in such a way that they tilted inward.
  • A golden vessel was used to draw water from the pool of Siloam to provide water . Accompanied by the sound of trumpets, the procession then entered the temple grounds through the water gate. “There are two bowls with holes on the altar. One is filled with fresh water, the other with wine; Liquids run slowly over the altar. "
  • The women's forecourt of the temple was festively illuminated and was the destination for a large number of pilgrims. After dark, the Levites sang the pilgrimage psalms to the accompaniment of flutes and stringed instruments , and the priests sounded trumpets. Then especially religious men danced in the courtyard with torches in their hands. (According to the Talmud and Tosefta, this nightly celebration later introduced gender segregation, and women watched dancing and making music in courtyards from galleries.)

These three rituals of the Jerusalem Temple are nowhere explicitly mentioned in ancient literature except in the Mishnah; it is generally believed to be some kind of rain spell.

After the destruction of the temple, the following remained: the seven-day festival of Sukkot, the Azeret on the eighth day, the Sukka, the Arbaʿa minim and the Hallel prayer as well as the request for rain on the eighth day.

Middle Ages and Modern Times

The Jewish Bible commentators of the Middle Ages found symbolic interpretations for sukkah and lulav:

  • According to Moses Maimonides , the sukkah is a reminder of the meager life of Israel in the desert era and urges humility. Rashi and, following him, Nachmanides, saw the sukkah as a symbol of divine protection, because it stood for the pillar of cloud that accompanied Israel on the desert wandering.
  • Aaron Halevi interpreted the four types on the most important parts of the human body, which thus unite in praise of God (palm branch = backbone, myrtle = eye, willow branches = lips, etrog = heart).

Kabbalists established the custom of inviting seven biblical guests (אֻשְׁפִּיזִין Uschpesin ) to the sukkah for dinner , each of whom stands for one of the Sefirot : Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David.

Sukkot today

Today, especially outside of Israel, the seven-day festival of Sukkot is of particular importance for observant Jews. In contrast, the Torah joy festival following the Feast of Tabernacles is particularly popular with families with children. As Chol HaMoed ( Hebrew חול המועד) is the term used to describe the “between” holidays of Sukkot (and Passover ). These days mix up the characteristics of oneחול "Chol" (days of the week) and oneמועד "Moed" (feast day). On Sukkot, Chol HaMoed consists of the second to seventh days (third to seventh in the diaspora ). Although Hoshana Rabba, the seventh day of Sukkot, has its own name, it is also part of Chol HaMoed.


In memory of the exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites lived in makeshift dwellings, the Sukkah is built every year on Sukkot where there is space - in the garden, in the courtyard, in the parking lot, on the balcony or on the roof - the sukkah, one with branches Hut that is covered with twigs or mats and must be in the open air. In Israel, the balconies on apartment buildings are often staggered; so they are suitable for building huts (photo). The roof should provide shade, but should be so fragile that you can see the stars through it at night. Since a mitzvah should be fulfilled in the most beautiful way possible, it is customary to decorate the sukkah, for example with the Seven Species of the Land of Israel or colored cloths. Meals are taken in it, weather permitting, for the seven days of the festival; If you stay overnight in the sukkah, this is a particularly good way of expressing the fact that the sukkah is meant to be a temporary dwelling. As from all time-related commandments, women are exempt from living in the leaf huts, as are people for whom an overnight stay in the open is a health hazard.

Jewish communities usually create a community sukka in which the kiddush takes place after the service and other receptions during the Sukkot festival.

church service

It begins with Shehechejanu's blessing . In the style of the ancient harvest festival and the ceremonies associated with rain and fertility, the arba'a minim are worn during the services in the synagogue during Sukkot . The Hebrew name Arba'a minim "four species" refers to the four types of plants in the festive bouquet. The following are found in the celebratory bouquet:

  1. a tied palm branch ( lulav ), which gives the bouquet its name,
  2. three branches of myrtle ( Hadassim )
  3. and two twigs of brook willow ( Arawot ), which are carried in the right hand,
  4. and the etrog , a type of lemon that is held in the left hand.

The arba'a minim are turned in six directions during the Hallel prayer, first to the east, then to the south, to the west, to the north, to the top and finally to the bottom. Towards the end of the service there is a procession (in Hebrew Hakkafot ), during which one or more Torah scrolls are carried around the lectern and those present, in Orthodox communities only the men with the Arba'a minim, follow in memory of those handed down in the Talmud Processions around the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. On the seventh, last day, Hoschana Rabba “the great Hoschana” (German Hosiana, help!), There is not just one procession, but seven, while praying for a good harvest. Then five twigs of brook willow tied together are tapped five times, also in memory of the traditions of the processions at the time of the Second Temple, according to which branches of brook willow were carried around the altar seven times in a procession that day. Only since the post-Talmudic period has Hoschana Rabba been considered the day on which the annual judgments made by God on the Day of Atonement for the individual become binding.

Sukkot dates

Sukkot is celebrated on the following dates (including Shmini Azeret):

Jewish year Gregorian year
5781 October 3 - 10, 2020
5782 September 21-28, 2021
5783 October 10-17, 2022
5784 September 30th - October 7th, 2023
5785 October 17-24, 2024

Note: The day of the Jewish calendar begins on the eve before dark and ends in the evening of the day - therefore it does not last from midnight to midnight. The Sabbath therefore begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening when it gets dark. It is the same with all other Jewish holidays.

Reception in art, literature and film

After elements of the Feast of Tabernacles were encountered earlier (more or less realistically) as illustrations of Bibles, interest in contemporary Jewish customs increased in the early 18th century. In 1723, for example, Bernard Picart represented a wealthy Sephardic family in the Netherlands who were gathered together in their sukkah to eat together. The rich ceiling decoration is particularly noticeable on this sukkah. In the 19th century the tabernacle was depicted more often in genre painting . In 1916 Marc Chagall painted a shed ( gouache ) in which an old man and a boy sit at the table while a woman serves them food through the window. Outside a man passes by with a festive bouquet. The contemporary Israeli artist Yoram Raanan depicted three men with Tallit and Lulav in the synagogue in 2002/2003, emphasizing the worship service instead of the mostly depicted family scenes in the tabernacle.

The Feast of Tabernacles is also a theme especially in New Hebrew, Yiddish and English literature. Aspects such as the joy of celebrations, encounters with nature, and vulnerability are discussed. Examples are the poems Strangers ( Chaim Nachman Bialik ) and Die Sukka ( Saul Tschernichowski ) as well as the short stories The Dead Lemon and The Feast of Tabernacles , both by Scholem Alejchem .

The Israeli film Ushpizin (2003, director: Didi Gar) already addresses the Feast of Tabernacles in the title ( Uschpesin are biblical patriarchs who are invited to the sukkah as “guests”). The script was written by Shuli Rand, who also plays the male lead. The focus is on the childless, poor Charedi couple Moshe and Malli Bellanga in Me'a She'arim . Moshe is a Baal Teshuva, someone who has converted from a secular to an ultra-orthodox way of life. On Sukkot, the couple is visited by Eliyahu and Yossef, two escaped prisoners who know Moshe from his previous life and who are billeted as guests in the Sukkah. The film conveys a positive image of the Charedi culture to a secular audience. The couple Moshe and Malli, believing in miracles and constantly praying, appear from a secular point of view like an easy victim of the two unscrupulous criminals. From a religious point of view, the film confirms with a comedic note that a strong belief can do anything - comments Stephen Holden for the New York Times . That is why Ushpizin was also positively received by Charedim, who are otherwise far removed from the cinema.

Sukkot as a place name

In the Hebrew Bible, Sukkot also appears as a place name on various occasions . The first place the Israelites reach when they leave Egypt is called Sukkot ( Ex 12.37  EU ). It is believed to have been in the Nile Delta . Another place called Sukkot was near the Jordan in the area of ​​the Gad tribe ( Jos 13.27  EU ).

See also


  • Robert L. Cohn, Corinna Körting , Yael Richardson, Ori Z. Soltes, Tom Thatcher:  Booths, Feast of . In: Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR). Volume 4, de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-018372-6 , Sp. 359–372.
  • Ernst Kutch, Louis Jacobs, Abram Kanof: Sukkot. In: Michael Berenbaum , Fred Skolnik (Ed.): Encyclopaedia Judaica . Volume 19. 2nd edition. Macmillan Reference USA, Detroit 2007, pp. 299-302. (English)
  • Corinna Körting : The sound of the shofar. Israel's Feasts in Autumn (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . Volume 285). De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1999. ISBN 3-11-016636-4 .
  • Hans-Joachim Kraus : Divine service in Israel. Studies on the history of the Feast of Tabernacles . Kaiser, Munich 1954.
  • Jeffrey L. Rubinstein: The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods (= Brown Judaic Studies . Volume 302). Scholars Press, Atlanta 1995. ISBN 978-0-7885-0130-2 . ( Open access )
  • Håkan Ulfgard: The Story of Sukkot. The Setting, Shaping, and Sequel of the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1998. ISBN 3-16-147017-6 .

Web links

Commons : Sukkot  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Sukkot  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Corinna Körting:  Tabernacles Festival (AT). In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (eds.): The scientific Bibellexikon on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff., Accessed on September 12, 2018.
  2. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, p. 213.
  3. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, p. 221f.
  4. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, p. 256.
  5. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, p. 256f.
  6. ^ A b Joseph Jacobs, HG Friedmann:  Feast of Tabernacles. In: Isidore Singer (Ed.): Jewish Encyclopedia . Funk and Wagnalls, New York 1901-1906.
  7. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, pp. 276 and 280.
  8. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, p. 309f. and 315f.
  9. ^ A b Ernst Kutch, Louis Jacobs, Abram Kanof: Sukkot . In: Michael Berenbaum , Fred Skolnik (Ed.): Encyclopaedia Judaica , Volume 19. 2nd edition. Macmillan Reference USA, Detroit 2007, pp. 299-302.
  10. Mishnah Sukkot 2.9 and Mishnah Taanit 1.1.
  11. Mishnah Sukkah 4,5.
  12. According to the Mishnah, what is probably meant is that fresh water was fetched directly from the Gihon spring .
  13. Mishnah Sukkah 4.9.
  14. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, p. 327.
  15. Corinna Körting: The sound of the shofar. Israels Feste im Herbst , Berlin / New York 1999, p. 328.
  16. ^ A b c Robert L. Cohn:  Booths, Feast of. III B. Rabbinic and Medieval Judaism . In: Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR). Volume 4, de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-018372-6 , Sp. 367-369.
  17. Elischa Portnoy: Tabernacle: The Mitzvah of Hospitality . In: Jüdische Allgemeine , September 20, 2021.
  18. Israel Meir Lau : How Jews Live: Faith, Everyday Life, Festivals . Gütersloher Verlag, Gütersloh 1988, pp. 200f.
  19. ^ The Jewish calendar , in: BR Online from July 5, 2011, accessed on April 30, 2019.
  20. Ori Z. Soltes:  Booths, Feast of. V. Visual Arts . In: Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR). Volume 4, de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-018372-6 , Sp. 370–372.
  21. Yael Richardson:  Booths, Feast of. IV. Literature . In: Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR). Volume 4, de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-018372-6 , Sp. 369-370.
  22. ^ Yaron Peleg: Directed by God. Jewishness in Contemporary Israeli Film and Television . University of Texas Press, Austin 2016, p. 17. Reviews at Rotten Tomatoes : Ushpizin : IMDB : Trailer .
  23. Stephen Holden: Guess Who Is Coming for Sukkot? Unbelievers . In: The New York Times , October 19, 2005.