Sukkot, the Feast of Booths

Sukkot Gifts, Traditions, and even a little Gematria

Sukkos / Sukkot, The Festival of Booths 2013 / 5774

This year the holiday of Sukkot Thursday September 19, 2013 (plus Friday 20 September outside Israel). The holiday is 7 days long, and is then immediately followed by the holiday of Simchat Torah, the Rejoicing of the Torah. The main traditions of Sukkot are biblically mandated (Leviticus 23:34-36), the dwelling in a Booth or Sukkah, and the waving of the Lulav, four species.

Sukkos is mandated biblically in Leviticus 23:33-44. An entire Babylonian Talmud tractate is dedicated to Sukkos. In the Code of Jewish Law (Shulhan Aruch), the laws of Sukkot begin in chapter 625 of Orach Chaim, and continue through with the laws of Lulav.

Sukkot Customs and Traditions, Sukkah Decorations

It is customary to decorate the Sukkah to increase one's enjoyment of the holiday.

JewishByte.com presents Digital Judaica decor and gifts for your Sukkah! Buy a matching throw pillow and tile coasters with "Welcome to our Sukkah", and "Welcome" in Hebrew also. Looking for a clock that will survive possible Sukkah rain showers? Try our "Zman Simchateinu" clock! What time is it? Time for Joy every hour with this humorous clock.

sukkah decor
sukkah clock
Click for Sukkah Decorations

Many homemade sukkah decorations can be assembled by the children of the house. Popcorn chains, paper chains, drawings, favorite New Year's cards and paintings are some common sukkah decor. For a different look, try kirigami, Japanese paper cutting. Jewishbyte.com used "Kirigami, Fun with Paper Folding + Cutting" by Joyce Hwang to instruct children in kirigami for sukkah decorations. This kit is no longer in print, but Joyce Hwang has written a series of kirigami books starting from the most easy and getting more difficult. For homemade sukkah decorations, try the Book 1 and Book 2. Kirigami is actually easier than origami for children when you keep to the simple patterns.

kirigami sukkah decorations
Recommended Kirigami books by Joyce Hwang

An important aspect to think of when making your sukkah decorations is that it just might rain. For drawings, cards, and smaller crafts, use ziploc bags. This keeps things waterproof. For larger projects, like the pictured mural of kirigami, use clear contact paper. If you cover both sides, being sure to lap over the top, it can really help. Jewishbyte.com also offers framed tiles, tile boxes, mugs, and tile coasters with Sukkot designs. These items will hold up in the rain and add decor to your sukkah as well.

Common themes for Sukkah decorations include:

Honey continues to be put on the challah during Sukkot. Unlike Rosh Hashanah, this time the honey is outdoors and can be attractive to flying pests such as wasps and flies. The image at the top of this page shows a picnic netting set out over the honey server. In any case, it's highly recommended to purchase a covered honey server for Sukkot!

Sukkah Devar Torah -- A meditation of reaching spirituality

The numerical equivalent (gematria) of Sukkah in Hebrew is 91. This number is also the sum of the numerical equivalents of two of the Divine Names: Adonut and Havaya.

Sukkah Gematria

The Name Adonut has several significances. It is actually the pronunciation for the name Havaya that we say in daily prayers. In the book Shaarei Orah by Rabbi Joseph Giktalia (1248-1323), the Name Adonut relates to the emanation of Kingship (Malchut). This is the "lowest" level of Divine influence, most closely felt in this world of existence. The Name Havaya, also known as the Tetragrammaton, is associated with the emanation of Understanding (Bina) by R. Giktalia.

The sukkah is a temporary dwelling, commemorating the clouds of Glory that sheltered the Israelites in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. By embracing kingship, we begin the spiritual journey towards true understanding. It is the meeting of earthly duties with heavenly goals that the sukkah embodies. We put our whole physical selves into the sukkah, unlike many other rituals which only involve part of our body.

The Evolution of One to Thirteen through Levels

91 is also the sum of all whole numbers from 1 to 13. Geometrically, this kind of sum is depicted as a triangle. The mystical significance of the triangle can be seen as the evolution or development of multiplicity from singularity through interlinking levels. Visually this is intuitive. The concept of "hishtalshalut" is related to the triangle. Hishtalshalut is difficult to translate properly. In modern Hebrew it relates to development and evolution. In mystical texts, the concept of "Seder Hishtalshalut", loosely the Order of Development, denotes the filtering and fragmenting of infinite Unity to plurality.

Triangle as Hishtalshalut

The number 13 is the number of attributes of mercy of the Almighty. Thus our sukkah also signifies the development of mercy in this world. We leave the security of our homes and dwell in a temporary booth at the fall harvest time, showing our faith in the mercy of the Creator of the Universe.

Visit our Sukkah gift store.

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