Oi veh, I thought, how am I going to tie in animals with my Sukkot theme this week?? It is, after all, time for our bloggers' weekend meme centered at Camera-Critters. So I started reading up, and sure enough, there are at least two animal connections!
The Talmud, in Sukkot 2.3, says,
"If one erects his sukkah on the top of a wagon (though it is on the move) or on the deck of a ship (where it is exposed to gales), it is valid and they may go up into it on the festival. If he made it on the top of a tree, or on the back of a camel, it is valid, but they may not go up into it on the festival . . . ."
And why, I hear you asking, may we not be in the sukkah on the camel on the first day of Sukkot, when work is forbidden? It is because of a side reason. The Sages enacted a gezera (a rabbinical decree) against riding on animals on Shabbat and the holidays, out of concern lest a rider unwittingly break off a branch as he rode along an overgrown trail, and that (the breaking of the branch) would be a violation of a melacha (an activity regarded as work which a Jew must not do on the Sabbath). Got it?
Photo courtesy of Gerald Johnson at Heifer Ranch, Arkansas
A Chabad website explains how oxen are connected to Sukkot's message of universal peace:
"When the Jewish people rejoice, our hearts go out to the whole world.
In the days of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the Sukkot Festival offerings included seventy oxen, corresponding to the seventy nations -- in prayer for their well-being, and for peace and harmony among the nations of the world."