Readership Response

Dr. Akiva G. Belk, Director


I have really enjoyed browsing through your website. The reason for doing so was because I was just in Israel last week and found that I was in the middle of your High Holydays. It seems I entered on Yom Kippur (Oct 9th) and as I was speaking to one of my fellow travellers, he commented on how he was fasting for the holyday. I decided to fast as well during my stay for the peace of Israel.

The reason for writing was that I left Israel on Friday, Oct 13th. Is this the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkos? Or does this go on for a whole week? I am a little confused. I was very much looking forward to touring this wonderful country, but my whole group cancelled with all the trouble going on. I certainly hope to return!

Many blessings to you,

Mary Kay


Subject Sukkos, The Festival of Tabernacles

Shalom Mary Kay,

The Festival of Sukkos (Tabernacles / booths) began after sundown on Friday, October 13, 2000 in conjunction with Shabbos. In Israel, Sukkos is celebrated according to the Torah command "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month is the Festival of Sukkos, a seven day period to Hashem. On the first day is a holy convocation, you shall not do any work. For a seven day period you shall offer a fire offering to Hashem; on the eighth day there shall be a holy convocation for you and you shall offer a fire offering to Hashem, it is an assembly, you shall not do any work." Leviticus 23:33-36

Outside of Israel we celebrate the first and second days as holy convocations in accordance to rabbinical command, Friday evening through Sunday evening. The first two days are part of the seven day observance.

Observance of the seven day (actually nine day) festivals are different. Certain groups observe all days as holy days while others only the first (& second), eighth (& ninth). Below is a brief day by day explanation.

First Day Shabbos & Sukkos
Friday evening to Saturday after dark

Second Day (Second Day of Sukkos in Diaspora)
Saturday after dark to Sunday after dark

Third Day
Sunday evening to Monday evening

Fourth Day
Monday evening to Tuesday evening

Fifth Day
Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening

Sixth Day
Wednesday evening to Thursday evening

Seventh Day (Hoshana Rabba, meaning "Great Hosanna")
Thursday evening to Friday evening (the beginning of Shabbos)

It is on Hoshana Rabba that the men of the congregation parade their Lulav (branches of date palms) and Etrog (citron fruit) around the synagogue seven times instead of one as on the first six days of Sukkos.

It is on this day that the Festival of Sukkos ends according to the Torah. However the rabbium added one more day to the end of this festival stating their intention: When an old friend is about to leave your home after staying a few days it is common to persuade your friend to stay an additional day. Sukkos is considered our friend. It is at this time of year that each evening we invite the spiritual presences of Avraham, Yitzchok, Yaakov, Yosief, Moshe, Aharon and Dovid as special guests to celebrate with us in our Sukkah. All that the rabbium actually did was to add one more day of celebrating in the Sukkah. The eighth day is a separate Holy Day called Shemini Atzeret

Eighth Day Shabbos & Shemini Atzeret (& in Israel Simchas Torah)
Friday evening to Saturday evening

In Israel Shemini Atzeret ("The Eighth Day") & Simchas Torah ("Rejoicing over the Torah") are celebrated as one day in accordance with the Torah directive (Leviticus 23:26).

Ninth Day Simchas Torah (in the Diaspora)
Outside of Israel (in the Diaspora) it is a two day Holy Convocation. Shemini Atzeret is observed in accordance with the Torah's instruction and Simchas Torah (Rejoicing over the Torah) is observed as a second day by rabbinical decree. On the ninth day, Simchas Torah, we normally do not celebrate in our Sukkah. Our last meal in the Sukkah is normally late in the afternoon of the eighth day.

Now, Mary Kay, you can see why this is a bit confusing.

Mary Kay, I would also like to mention that JewishPath is a non profit volunteer organization. We deeply appreciate every contribution. Even the smallest gift is greatly appreciated. If every fifth visitor sent just $1.00 we could hire and maintain a fulltime staff to answer questions like yours.

In advance we thank you for whatever you may be able to do...

JewishPath, Inc
POB 1075
Georgetown, Colorado
USA 80444

With kindest regards and all the best wishes for you and yours,

Rachel Gold, Editor

Subject: Gifts - The Gift is in the Mail!

Dear reader,

When one looks at an informative letter like the one above and understands that we write hundreds of letters that are never posted on the internet, it shows the blessed dedication of our volunteers. In this case, like others, it also shows the callousness of some who request information. Here this lady has just returned from a trip that cost thousands of dollars, yet she declined to send even the smallest support.

At JewishPath we understand this. we share out of our love for Hashem and Kal Yisroel. Yet remembering our staff's dedication with a gift is not asking much.

Thank You for remembering that every servant is deserving.

Akiva G. Belk


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