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Beginning five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is named after the booths or huts ( in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration.
The origins of Sukkot are found in an ancient autumnal harvest festival. Indeed, it is often referred to as hag ha-asif, “The Harvest Festival.” Much of the imagery and ritual of the holiday revolves around rejoicing and thanking God for the completed harvest. The sukkah represents the huts that farmers would live in during the last hectic period of harvest before the coming of the winter rains. As is the case with other festivals whose origins may not have been Jewish, the Hebrew Bible reinterpreted the festival to imbue it with a specific Jewish meaning. In this manner, Sukkot came to commemorate the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert after the revelation at Mount Sinai, with the huts representing the temporary shelters that the Israelites lived in during those 40 years.
The enforced simplicity of eating and perhaps also living in a temporary shelter focuses our minds on the important things in life and divorces us from the material possessions of the modern world that dominate so many of our lives. Even so, Sukkot is a joyful holiday and justifiably referred to as zeman simchateynu, the “season of our joy.”