By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel initiative”
Based on ancient Jewish sages, September 16, 2021,
More on Jewish holidays: Smashwords, Amazon

1. Sukkot (September 21-27) Commemorates the Exodus and is named for the first stop during the 40-year-Exodus from Egypt – the town of Sukkot – as documented in Exodus 13:20-22 and Numbers 33:3-5.  This holiday underscores the gradual transition from the spiritual state-of-mind during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to the mundane of the rest of the year. The construction of the Holy Tabernacle, during the Exodus, was launched on the first day of Sukkot (full moon).

2. is a national Jewish liberation holiday. It is the 3rd Jewish pilgrimage holiday (following Passover and Shavou’ot – Pentecost), which highlights faith and optimism, commemorating

3. The roots of the Hebrew word Sukkot (סוכות) are wholeness and totality (סכ), shelter (סכך) and attentiveness (סכת). The numerical value of סכך (every Hebrew letter has a numerical value) is 100 (ס=60, כ=20, ך=20), representing the totality/unity of the Jewish people, history, roots, education and legacy.

4. The 7 days of Sukkot are dedicated to 7 monumental principle-driven leaders, who were compassionate and brave shepherds, representing leadership qualities in the pursuit of ground-breaking initiatives: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. They were endowed with faith, reality-based-optimism, humility, compassion, tenacity in the face of daunting odds, courage and peace-through-strength.

Sukkot expresses gratitude for the 7 species of the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (Deuteronomy 8:8).

Sukkot accentuates the 7 weeks between the beginning of the Exodus (Passover) and the receipt of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (Shavou’ot – Pentecost).

5.  Sukkot features (Leviticus 23:40) 1 citron (representing King David, the author of Psalms), 1 palm branch (representing Joseph), 3 myrtle branches (representing the three Patriarchs) and 2 willow branches (representing Moses and Aharon), which are bonded together, representing the unity-through-diversity of the Jewish people.

These four species represent the agricultural regions of the Land of Israel: the southern Negev and Arava (palm), the slopes of the northern Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Mt. Carmel (myrtle), the streams of the central mountains of Judea and Samaria (willow) and the western coastal plain (citron).

They also represent four leadership prerequisites: solid backbone (palm branch), humility (willow), compassionate heart (citron) and penetrating eyes (myrtle).

The palm branch, an ancient symbol of victory, was featured in coins from the Maccabees’ era (from the 2nd century BC through the 1st century AD) and the Bar Kokhba rebellion (132-135 AD).  According to the First Book of Maccabees, chapter 13, Simon the Maccabee celebrated the retaking of the  David Citadel in Jerusalem with drums, harps and palm branches.

6. Sukkot emphasizes humility as demonstrated by the seven-day-relocation from one’s permanent residence to the temporary, humble, wooden booth (Sukkah), which sheltered the people of Israel during the Exodus.

7.  Sukkot expresses the yearning for universal peace, highlighting the Sukkah of Peace (Sukkat Shalom).