Guidelines for the festival of Sukkot
The Sukkah is our temporary dwelling place for the week of Sukkot. We eat, entertain our friends, learn and (weather permitting), sleep in Sukkah so it becomes our home for a week. Please find this short overview of the laws of the Festival of Sukkot, which hopefully will help to refresh your memory:
Sunday September 23
First night of Sukkot
Lighting candles time; 6.45 pm.
Try to light the candles in the Sukkah (not if there is a fire hazard) or in a place where they can be seen from the Sukkah; if it is impossible, place them in the kitchen or another room where you prepare the food.
After coming from shul, or after reciting the Festival evening prayers at your home, comes the exciting moment of entering your beautiful Sukkah. Allow yourself a quiet moment; look around the Sukkah, absorb what you are seeing and reflect about the exodus of our ancestors from Egypt, their journey in the wilderness and the Divine Clouds of Glory, which protected them during their journey, symbolised by the Sukkah
Earliest Kiddush time – 7.38 pm.
Recite the Festival Kiddush as found in your Siddur or Machzor and conclude with the following two blessings before drinking the wine:
1) Baruch atah Ado-nai, Elo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu leishev ba’sukkah.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d King of the universe, Who has sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the Sukkah.
2) Baruch atah Ado-nai, Elo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
After the Kiddush a festive meal in the Sukkah follows. When making Hamotzi on Sukkot, many people have a custom to dip the Challah in honey like on Rosh Hashanah
Monday September 24
Today is the time to fulfil the mitzvah of Four Species - Etrog, palm branch, myrtles and willows! We bind all the branches together – two willows on the left, one palm branch in the centre, and three myrtles on the right. We hold this bundle in our right hand, and then lift them together with the Etrog. We hold the Etrog upside down (stem up) and we recite the following two blessing:
1)Baruch atah Ado-nai Elo-haynu melech ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu al n’tee-lat lulav.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us through His commandments, and commanded us to take the lulav
2) Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
Then, immediately and carefully (!) we turn the Etrog upside up (stem down) and wave them all together, three times in each direction: front, right, back, left, up and down.
You can fulfil the Mitzvah of Four Species at home before going to shul or in shul before the recitation of Hallel; in any case bring the Four Species to shul as you will be holding and waving them at different points during the service.
No preparations should be made for the second night until the first day of the festival has terminated at 7.36 pm! Food may be cooked or heated only after this time.
Monday September 24; the Second night of Sukkot
The time for lighting the candles for the second day of the Festival is after7.36pm. The Festival laws forbid us to create a flame or to put it off. Thereforeit isforbidden to light the match, which serves to light the candles, by rubbing it against the box, or using a lighter. The candles may be kindled by a match, which has been lit by a pre-existing flame such as a yahrzeit candle lighted before the first day of the Festival. After lighting the candles, place the match you used to light the candles in an ashtray and let it burn itself out; don’t blow it out!
Kiddush for the second night can be recited after 7.36pm. The Kiddush is the same as on the first night but the two blessings which conclud the Kiddush are recited in reversed order- first number 2 (she’he’che’yanu) and then number 1 (leishev ba’sukkah) . (Too complicated to explain the reason; ask your rabbi some timeJ)
Tuesday September 25; the Second day of Sukkot
The procedure for the Mitzvah of Four Species is the same as for the first day but you omit the 2nd blessing (she’he’che’yanu) completely.
In case of rain
On the first night of Sukkot a family should wait approximately one hour to see whether or not the rain will stop. If the rain does not stop, they should go into the Sukkah nevertheless and recite Kiddush with the blessing 2 (she’he’che’yanu), omitting the blessing 1(leishev ba’sukkah). Then one should wash and say Hamotzi and eat a slice of Challah in the wet Sukkah. They should then continue the meal in the house. If it stops raining, one should enter the Sukkah, recite the blessing 1-leishev ba’sukkah, and eat a big slice of Challah in the Sukkah. Even if the rain stopped only after the meal has ended, one should wash again, recite Hamotzi and the leishev ba’sukkahblessing, eat a big slice of Challah in the Sukkahand to recite the After the Meal Blessing again.
On the second night, one may start the meal in the house immediately, without waiting. We say Kiddush with theshe’he’che’yanuin the house, omitting the blessing leishev ba’sukkah. When making Hamotzi have in mind that you may eat a slice of Challah in the Sukkah at the end of the meal. At the end of the meal before reciting the After the Meal Blessing one should go into the Sukkah and eat a slice of Challah, then you can come back and recitethe After the Meal Blessing in the house. While eating in the Sukkah do not recite the leishev ba’sukkahblessing unless it has stopped raining.
All the above pertains to the first two nights of Sukkot only; during the first two days of Sukkot and on all the following nights, in case of rain one should have a regular meal at home and to leave the Sukkah altogether until the rain stops.
Rabbi Kupperman, Rabbi Gilbert and their families wish you all Chag Sukkot Sameach.