Friday, October 17, 2008

Dwelling in a temporary hut

"You shall dwell in sukkot (huts) for seven days . . . so that you will know, for all generations, that I had the Children of Israel dwell in sukkot when I took them out of the Land of Egypt; I am God your God." (Leviticus 23:42-43)

"How [does one fulfill] the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah? One should eat, drink, and live in the sukkah, both day and night, as one lives in one’s house on the other days of the year: for seven days a person should make his home his temporary dwelling, and his sukkah his permanent dwelling." (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 639:1)

God says . . . “I have one easy mitzvah, and sukkah is its name.” (Talmud, Avodah Zarah 3a)

I have finally shot a few sukkah pictures to show you, now that we are already half-way through the week of the Sukkot holiday. The one above is typical for my village in the Jerusalem Hills where the moshavniks have plenty of space.

Many communities decorate the sukkah with posters on the walls or by hanging fresh fruits or other decorations from the sechach beams. Some, like Chabad Chassidim, have the custom not to put in decorations, as the sukkah itself is considered an object of beauty.
This plain big sukkah-hut is one of several in the garden of a restaurant at Beit Ticho, an art gallery in Jerusalem. You think they serve hut cuisine inside? :)
Yesterday I ventured into Geula, a strictly ultra-Orthodox (haredi) neighborhood, home to different segments of Chassidic and Lithuanian Judaism. My stealth photo shows a small plywood sukkah/booth/hut.
Look at this apartment building in a narrow Geula lane! Click to see it full-page. Sukkahs everywhere--on the roof, on the little balconies, even protruding from the corner.
Moadim lesimcha (the greeting said on the intermediate days of the holiday) and Shabbat shalom to you.


Katney said...

Thank you for this glimpse into the customs surrounding Sukkot.

kaybee said...

Dina, thank you -- this is so interesting! I have often read that scripture in Leviticus and wondered how this is played out in reality in these days. Great photos!


really interesting post Dina, can tourists see this sort of thing? are they allowed to stroll freely in these areas? this is the sort of off the beaten track kind of touring i would like to see in israel

Leora said...

I love that triangular sukkah.

I just learned about the Chabad custom of not decorating the sukkah. My husband's theory is one year someone didn't have time to decorate, and a new custom emerged...

Enjoy the rest of the holiday.

Webradio said...

Hello Dina, and Thank You for this lesson of hitory (and "coutumes...).
The photos are nice.
See You later.

dot said...

Very interesting post!

Dina said...

Katney, glad you like this.

Kaybee, really kind of amazing, isn't it, that it is still lived out in real life.

Kiwi, you can walk through as long as you are modestly dressed and do not point a camera at the residents. Yesterday I joined a guided tour of English-speaking immigrants on the subject "19th century Jerusalem." We were scheduled to walk through Mea Shearim, THE bastion of ultra-Orthodox Jews. But when the guide saw that the group was 20 or 25, he would not take us into the neighborhood. The residents are against big groups of noisey and nosey tourists walking through their narrow streets, staring at them as if they were strange zoo animals. Can't blame them.
So we went to Geula instead. My first time.
Sure, just give yourselves plenty of time to wander around the off the beaten track places. We'll get together if I'm not working then.

Shalom Leora, Funny, I just learned that today too, on the Chabad website. Your husband's theory is funny, but then who knows, maybe he's right. :)
Moadim lesimcha!

Hi Webradio, thanks for your faithful visits. I'm guessing your French coutumes would be in English "customs"? Traditions?
Whatever, Jews sure have plenty of them. hehe

Catherine said...

I've learnt a new custom today. I wonder how is it possible to manage to apply all these religious customs in our daily life? Not easy every days ?

Dina said...

Thanks Dot!

Catherine, good question. I myself am not religiously observant (outwardly, at least). But I admire those who devote their life to studying and doing so very many mitsvot. It helps to be born into that kind of family and not have to start from zero.

Bestemor Aud said...

Hei again!
Have you tried the Google tranlator on my main page: Bestemor Auds Blog. If you choose English there, all my blogs are being translated automatically. Not very proper - but still you can understand most of the contents.
Happy Succot!

AVT Coach said...

Dina, again your posts continue to be so meaningful. I wanted to tell you thank you for your prayers for my husband last month. He had surgery this week and is doing very well. His cancer was contained and he needs no other treatments. I remember your kindness and wanted to let you know how it turned out.

Gill - That British Woman said...

I have never heard of this, thank you for sharing,

Gill in Canada

Hilda said...

Thank you again for this very informative post, Dina. I really find the customs fascinating especially since I haven't heard of any Jewish community here in Manila. The building with so many sukkots is so interesting — an apartment building maybe?


thanks for the information dina, i expected it to be like you write. nobody wants to be stared at, but tourists love to look at anything that's different! it would be wonderful to have you as a guide

Petrea said...

Hut cuisine! You are so wonderful. I love all these photos and your information, but especially love the stealth photo. What a delight it would be to wander these streets with you.

Kay said...

Hi Dina... Thanks for the great post. I did see a lot of sukkahs in Skokie and sort of knew about the custom but forgot where it originated. This makes it so much more interesting. Thank you for the great photos and information.

Dina said...

Bestemor Aud, thanks for reminding me of the translator. Now I know, more or less, what your posts say. Machine translation is lots of fun, in and of itself.

AVT Coach, thank God for your good news! Baruch Rofeh cholim.

Shalom Gill. Do you know gil in Hebrew means rejoicing? :)

Hilda, yes, it's an apartment building (well, condominium). There seems to be a synagogue in Manila in Salcedo Village.
The website:
If you're interested, you could go see the prayers there on Friday and Saturday.

Petrea, yes, it would be a blast to wander there with you.
I stole the idea of "hut cuisine" from the Jerusalemite blog. See

Kay, you're back home safe, yay! Thanks a zillion for your guiding through lovely Japan and for the moving story of your family.