Starting the New Year Right: From Repentance to Doing Mitzvahs
One of the sounds heard throughout Israel about an hour after the Yom Kippur fast has ended is the tapping and banging of hammers and saws.
This heartwarming custom has fathers leading their families out to the spot chosen for their Sukkah (temporary dwelling for the week of the Sukkot - or Tabernacles*, as the holiday is called in English) as soon as they have broken their fast, in order to act upon their Yom Kippur promises to G-d by immediately beginning the post-repentance period with the joyous fulfillment of a Torah commandment.
There are myriads of sukkahs to be seen in Israel as the holiday approaches, at the Kotel and tourist spots, on army bases, some in official buildings, in synagogues, many in restaurants and hotels, but most in homes, on porches and in gardens of both religious and secular families.
Walls, minimally two whole ones and at least part of a third, are usually made of wood, but any stable material will do, including fabric, as long as it stays in place in the wind. The walls can even be the already existing walls of a porch or enclosure.
They must not be so high that someone entering the Sukkah does not notice the roof's special nature, the roof being the only absolute building requirement, apart from a minimum size that allows a chair and table to be placed inside.
A Sukkah must be built with a roof that is temporary in nature, made of material that grew from the earth and has not been made into anything else, such as branches and/or tied together slats (schach, in Hebrew). The roof must allow the stars to be seen, but have more shade than sunlight coming through during the day. The schach must not be attached to the earth (growing vines are not acceptable!) and the Sukkah must not be under a tree or any other covering.
The Sukkah is "home" for a week, not only for meals. Many men elect to sleep in their Sukkah and often they are large enough to accommodate the guests that come for a meal or a party - or just dash in and out to make a blessing in their acquaintances' and relatives' temporary "homes".
A fairly recent fun custom in many areas of Israel is "Sukkah hopping", where youngsters go from Sukkah to Sukkah on the first night of the festival, comparing the beautiful decorations that line the walls - some bought, but many the result of arts and crafts projects that fill the Israeli nursery,kindergarden and grade school schedules for days - and being welcomed with cakes or candies at each "home."
Arutz Sheva went out to see the builders in action. Watch post Yom Kippur Sukkahs going up in the following video and photo essay.
Video and photos: Kuvien Images - www.kuvienimages.com
"Let's take a hammer and nails quickly to we can all build our Sukkah, girls and boys" (from a popular Israeli children's song).
*Sukkot, besides being an agricultural festival as are Passover and Shavuot, is celebrated in remembrance of G-d's protection for the Jewish people as they crossed the desert after the Exodus. The Sukkot booths remind us of the temporary dwellings in which they camped and travelled and also of the heavenly clouds that protected them during that time. The Tabernacle was the temporary dwelling of the Holy Ark and other holy objects during the Israelite's sojourn in the desert as they made their way to the Promised Land after the Exodus from Egypt