Sukkot or The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the three biblically mandated festivals/ Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. The word Sukkot means booths, and refers to the temporary dwellings that Jews were commanded to live in during this holiday.
You shall dwell in booths for seven days…that your generations may know that I made the Children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. Leviticus (23:42–43)
There are three major traditions associated with Sukkot:
- Building a sukkah.
- Eating in the sukkah.
- Waving the lulav and etrog
During Sukkot the Four Species (arba minim in Hebrew), meals and blessings are used to rejoice before the Lord.
"You shall take... the beautiful fruit (Etrog), a palm frond (Lulav), myrtle twigs and willow branches of the stream -- and rejoice for seven days before the Lord your God." (Leviticus 23:40)
The earliest rabbinic reference to Shemini Atzeret calls it yom tov aharon shel ha-hag, the last day of the festival. The Talmud Taanit 20b-31a, however, declares that the eighth day is a festival in its own right.The special prayer for rain (Tfilat haGeshem) is added to the repetition of Musaf and thus begins the period of an additional call for rain, which lasts until Passover.