Friday, October 06, 2006

Sukkot? What's That?

It always seems strange to me which Jewish holidays are well known and which aren't.

Take Sukkot (WIKIpedia entry).

The bible speaks of four Jewish holidays: Passover (Pesach WIKI), Pentecost (Shavuot WIKI), Tabernacles (Sukkot), and Shemini Atzeret (WIKI, also known outside of Israel as Simchat Torah WIKI; in Israel, the two are combined into one day). Anywhere one is mentioned, the others are mentioned. And yet, the vast majority of people who know what Passover is couldn't tell you what the others are.

The other main holidays in the bible are Rosh Hashana (WIKI) and Yom Kippur (WIKI); these are maybe half as observed as Passover.

Then there are the two "minor" holidays, which were instituted centuries after the bible: Hanukkah (WIKI) and Purim (WIKI). More people in the world know about Hanukkah than either Shavuot or Sukkot, but then almost none know about Purim.

Very strange.

Some may say that it's a matter of theme. The theme of Passover is about freedom, which is a universal enough message, while the theme of Shavuot is acceptance of the bible, the theme of Sukkot is God's love and protection, and the theme of Shemini Azteret is about rejoicing. People mistakenly think that the theme of Hanukkah is only about religious freedom, when it is also about rejection of religious secularism, and the theme of Purim is about rescue from physical threats.

It seems more likely that, through some odd series of messages about universal faith, that Passover simply became associated with Easter and Hanukkah with Christmas, and that was that. And their messages got lost in the translation.

Sukkot starts tonight, coincidental with the start of Shabbat, and goes for seven days to right before the start of next shabbat. Next shabbat is coincidental with Shemini Azteret, which follows right on the heels of Sukkot. Outside of Israel, it will go one more day, to the following Sunday.

The first day of Sukkot is "holy", while the remaining days are "half holy". Outside of Israel, the first two days are celebrated as "holy". For practical purposes, holy or half holy means "can't go to work" or "can go to work".

I'm off to the parents in Beit Shemesh for the first day of Sukkot. I hope I will play games, but I can't think of with whom or when, yet. Monday is Games Day, which I'm looking forward to. And all week in Tel Aviv will be ICON, which I probably won't get to again, as usual.

In the meantime, have a happy one.



Katiez Furry Mewz said...

Good Shabbos & Happy sukkot!!

Glad to find another like minded blogger.


Guy said...

Passover - The Ten Commandments - Charlton Heston.

Need I say more?
About Channukah, it's all about yuletide.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

guy: ok ...

I'm waiting for a great Hollywood movie about Ezekial. That would be cool.