Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Holidays; Holy and Pagan: Tabernacles and Thanksgiving

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) and Thanksgiving

Biblical Month: Tishrei

Secular Month: Sept/Oct

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. – Lev. 23:33-36

The following are the key passages in the Torah dealing with Sukkot:

Exodus 23:16, Lev. 23:33-43, Num. 29:12-39 and Deut. 16:13-17

The Feast of Sukkot, also known as, The Feast of Tabernacles, is often mistaken by Christians as a “Jewish Holiday,” but it is not, it is a High Holy Holiday appointed by God Himself for everyone who worships and serves the God of Israel. Sukkot has been translated, “tabernacles” or “booths” but the root word of Sukkot means, “to dwell.”

Ancient and Modern Observances

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles is the last in the cycle of the annual the High Holy Day Festivals which takes place in the fall of the year. On the secular solar calendar Sukkot falls in September or October. On the Hebraic and Rabbinical Lunar calendar Sukkot begins on the 15th day of the 7th month called Tishri. Sukkot is an 8 day long Festival, 7 symbolizing completion and 8 symbolizing a new beginning. The first and last days of the Festival is considered and observed similar to a weekly Sabbath where no work is done, where the Sabbath candles are lit and the traditional blessings over the bread and wine are said and the community meets to worship ADONAI through prayer and reading of Biblical texts relating to the Holy Day. One may work during the intermediary days of the Festival. Seeing as the Tabernacle and Temple are no longer standing, prayers have been considered to temporarily replace the sacrifices until the 3rd Temple is rebuilt.

During then time when the Temple stood many sacrifices were made:

·       The Feast of (Sukkot) Tabernacles there were a total of 71 bullocks, one for each nation and one for Israel.
·       15 rams, the number fifteen symbolizes the Completion of God's Grace, and His Kingdom. The Completion of God's Grace   3 x 5. The fifteenth day of the first month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the symbol of the sinless body. The fifteenth day of the seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Feast of Tabernacles marks the end of the sixth day of man and the beginning of the seventh day of the Kingdom.
·       105 lambs. The number 105 is made up of three Hebrew letters, Ayin, Lamed and Hey, and it creates the word meaning to rise or to go up. Going up is always referred to as going up to meet G-d on the Temple Mount to sacrifice and fellowship with Him. This speaks to us that ADONAI is King and we are created to serve and worship Him. This testifies to the obligation of the word to recognize and follow through with these facts.

·       8 goats offered during the feast, with accompanying meal and drink offerings. Eight is the number symbolizing new beginnings, speaking of a new week and a New Era, a New World, a Heavenly Divine Kingdom Age to Come. Goats also remind us of Yom Kippur and allude to the fact that this new rule and world will be without sin and will be forever new.

It is also a Festival commemorating Israel’s 40 year nomadic wandering in the desert and the future fruitfulness of the Promised Land. It is over a week long Holiday which calls every Jew and Hebrew back to their roots so in the midst of blessing and prosperity of the Promised Land one will not forget their humble beginnings.

This God Ordained Festival is observed in several ways, one of which and the most well-known is by, as the Torah passages commands, building a temporary shelter and living in it all throughout and during the festival. If weather and climate permits one is expected to literally make this temporary shelter their home for the holiday, but in order to fulfill the commandment of “dwelling” in a sukkah one is encouraged to, at the very least, eat meals, study, pray and worship there. The Rabbinic decree has always been like over law and if one’s life is put in danger one may forgo observing the commandment. For example, in the Diaspora many Jews now live in cold climates and may be able to spend time out in their sukkah eating or playing games, but it would be to cold and dangerous to ones health to sleep out there. G-d does not expect one to risk or in danger ones health in order to fulfill a commandment.

The Sukkah

The sukkah (hut or booth) can be made out of virtually any material the only requirements by Torah and Rabbinic tradition is that it at least has three walls and the roof must be made from branches, leaves and or other natural foliage. And it is important to leave spaces in the roof to where one can look up and view the stars. The sukkah is decorated with fruits and harvest themed items; some even decorate them with holiday lights. People build sukkah’s in their yards, on their decks and on the balconies of their apartments, wherever they can. Along with the remembrance of the 40 year wandering of Israel in the Wilderness, all of this is to remind the individual of the fragility and temporality of our own bodies, that they are only temporary dwelling places for our souls and that our New Home is in the heavens among the stars in the World to Come where our God is.

The Lulav and Etrog

The next item associated with and used during Sukkot is the four species, called the Lulav and etrog made up of a (lulav) palm frond, two (aravot) willow branches and three (hadassim) myrtle branches all bound together like a bouquet topped off with an etrog, a close cousin to the lemon. This represents the fruitfulness and bounty of the harvest.  In exile we use compatible relative species of our area to replace items of the Lulav that are not indigenous to our area. For example, we use a corn stalk instead of a palm from because the palm and corn stock are from the same family and palms do not grow in many places where Jews are. For an etrog, we may use a harvest fruit from our area like an apple or potato. The Lulav and Etrog are used during prayer and recitation of the Hallel Psalms (113-118) as praise unto ADONAI by being shook in all six directions, North, South, East, West, Up and Down. There are many teaching on the Lulav and Etrog. The Rabbi’s and Sages say that the Lulav and Etrog represent us, our bodies. The palm frond represents our spine, the willow leaves are the lips, the myrtle leaves the eyes, and the etrog represents the heart. It is also taught that the Etrog symbolizes Abraham had a big heart and was blessed with old age. The palm fronds represent Isaac who was spread out upon the altar. The myrtle has many leaves and represents the many children he had. The willow is like unto Joseph who died before his brothers just as the willow wilts before all the other foliage. The Lulav and Etrog have also been linked to the four directions and four elements. It has also been taught that the Lulav and Etrog represent different types of Jews where the Etrog which is aromatic and sweet is like unto person full of Torah and good deeds. The palm frond which comes from the date palm has a fruit that tastes sweet but has no fragrance and is like a person who has Torah knowledge but no good deeds. The myrtle smells nice but has no taste and is like one who has good deeds but no Torah knowledge. The willow has neither smell or taste and is like a person with neither Torah knowledge or good deeds.

Events During Sukkot:


In I Kings 8 and II Chronicles 7, it speaks of King Solomon fulfilling the life-long dream of his father David and himself, of having built the Holy Temple of YHWH.  It says the he “Chanukah-ed” it, dedicated it, and had a 7 day festival and ended it on the 8th day, hence 8 days of Chanukah, just as we have today. The Ark of the Covenant is placed in the newly built Temple during the Festival of Sukkot, so that particular Sukkot doubled as a Chanukah celebration as well!

Today Sukkot is the last of the High Holidays and is the precursor to Chanukah as we know it. Yet both deal with the Dwelling place of G-d among men. So these eight crazy days of Sukkot (counting Shimini Eretz and Simchat Torah) leads us to the eight crazy nights of Chanukah!


In Nehemiah 8:14-18, We see that a portion of Judah has returned from Babylonian captivity. We also see the model for the modern synagogue service, but we also see that Sukkot had not been celebrated with regularity since the time of Yehoshuah (Joshua) and it is thus observed.


In Luke 2 Yeshua was born on the first day of Sukkot in a sukkah where animals and workers of the Inn keeper gathered. Yeshua then was circumcised the last (8th) day of Sukkot at the Temple.

In Matthew 17 Yeshua takes Kefa, Ya’akov and Yochannon (Peter, James and John) up on a mountain and is transfigured before them as Moses and Elijah show up and Kefa desires to build a sukkah for each one of them.

In John 7 Yeshua celebrates Sukkot despite the risk to his own life! Also during this time He proclaims Himself as the Living Water during the annual water pouring ceremony on the Altar by the Priests at the Temple.

In The Future

Zechariah 14 prophecies of Messiah’s return and how even the Gentiles will celebrate Sukkot.

The Eighth Day – Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah (Rejoicing with the Torah), also known as Shimini Atzret (The Eight Day) and it is the last day of Sukkot in which the last Torah portion is read and we begin the annual Torah cycle reading again for a new year. It has become a holiday in and of itself. But it is an awesome way to end Sukkot with a bang and a last hurrah!  The Rabbi, Synagogue Officials and Congregants all take turns dancing around the synagogue with the Torah scroll

“On Simchat Torah, the Torah wants to dance, but lacking the physical 
limbs with which to do so, it employs the body of the Jew. On this day, 
the Jew becomes the dancing feet of the Torah.” -- The Lubavitcher Rebbe 

When I was a Christian going to a very conservative Bible College, our campus was right next door to an Orthodox Synagogue. I decided to go one Shabbat incognito just to observe and learn. When I saw the Torah Procession, and I saw everyone touching and kissing the Torah scroll all bedecked with crowns and a priestly breastplate, in my Christian thinking I was saddened, thinking that they were worshipping the Torah scroll.  However, little did I know at the time that the Torah is the Divine Law of the Malkut Shemayim, and the Olam Habba (The Kingdom of Heaven and the World to Come). It supposed to rule every aspect of our daily lives because it is the expressed will of ADONAI. Walking in the Torah of ADONAI there is no “secular” and “sacred” moments, all is sacred, everything becomes a divine moment to carry out ADONAI’s will. I failed to recognize back then that the Torah represents the Priestly and Kingly Messiah of Yeshua who is the Living manifestation of the Written Torah (John 1). Now I know that out of respect of the Law and of the future reign of Messiah, we dress the Torah in a Priestly and Kingly garment and pledge ourselves to walk in the Path of Torah which is nothing less than the path of Messiah.

By the way, in Hebrew the word, Simcha, which means Joy can also spell two other very important Hebrew words that are inseparable to this day of Simchat Torah. Switch the letters of Simcha in Hebrew around and you get, Chamesh, meaning, Five, meaning the Five Books of Moshe (Moses), The Torah! Rearrange the words again and you get Moshiach, Messiah! So in other words you can’t have Joy without Torah, and without the Torah you can’t have the Messiah!

Simchat Torah is the culmination of the Fall Festivals of, Rosh Ha Shannah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Let nothing stand in our way in celebration of the Torah.

At Sukkot you stand in the middle between the end of one chapter and the beginning of another; the end of harvest and the entry into the Promised Land. We recall our past wilderness wanderings and our new home and dwellings. We stand betwixt death and rebirth such a wonderful mystical time of the year. No wonder ADONAI choose this time of the year for Messiah to be born and also slated it for the time of His transfiguration His revelation to the people of being Messiah during the Temples water pouring ceremony and also the season of His future return. Sukkot is pregnant with meaning past, present and future with prophetic significance that run the gamut of linear and eternal time.

And no wonder this is also the time satan works overtime and has his unholy counterfeit of pagan solstice, harvest festivals and Halloween which represents death, destruction and depravity, the opposite of Sukkot.
Merry Sukkot!

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…”

There was no snow on the ground that fateful night, no wise men either; they didn’t come on the scene till two years later. No, just the barnyard crew from George Orwell’s Animal Farm and a few shepherds. No, the time of the year was the Hebrew month of Tishrei, during the festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.

Luke 2:1-5 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

You see, Caesar was no dummy. He knew the Jews would be all in one place, and going back to their hometowns for the last of the three pilgrimage festivals and He may have thought, “Since everyone is in one place, might as well hit two birds with one stone and take a tax and a census.”

During Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), every Jewish family by Torah is required to build a 3 sided booth for the festival to (if weather permits) live in or at least have a meal, a study or a time of prayer in there. It commemorates the 40 years that Israel wandered and camped in the desert. If one’s life or health was at risk they were not required to stay in a sukkah and seeing as Miriam (Mary) being pregnant with Yeshua (Jesus) Yosef (Joseph) sought out a hotel an inn but to no avail.

Luke 2:6-7 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And as fate would have it, they ended up in a sukkah of sorts anyway! Have you ever noticed most nativity scene? The figurines are usually under a 3 sided structure with a straw like roof… in other words, a sukkah! For the Messiah to be qualified as Messiah He had to obey the Torah in every way, and God caused it so that Yeshua was born in a sukkah!

Yeshua said Himself that He is the Bread of Life (John 6:48). Yeshua was born in Beyt-Lechem, Bethlehem, being translated, the House of Bread. And when He was born He was laid in, of all things, a feeding trough, a manger, in which grain, which is used to make bread, was put to feed the livestock. And in the Scriptures, especially in Psalm 23, we are likened as unto sheep, who at times eat grain.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The word “dwelt” comes from the word “sukkah”. So we can say Yeshua housed himself in a sukkah of flesh and “sukkah-ed” among us. This word “sukkah” as in it the root word “Shekinah” which is used to describe the manifest presence of God dwelling or “sukkah-ing” among Israel in the Tabernacle and Temple. So Yeshua the Messiah, the figurative Son of God, the emanation of God Himself, “sukkah-ed,” now in flesh among Israel as He did in a cloud in the Tabernacle and Temple.

Allow me to quote from my personal Statement of Faith in regards to this Messiah.

“I believe Yeshua Ha Moshiach of Nazareth is the prophesied Messiah of Israel.  That He was FULLY GOD to be able to redeem us from our sins, and FULLY man to have the right to redeem us from our sins, to be our Kinsmen Redeemer (Ruth, Jer.17:5-7, Jn.1).  Yeshua is the perfect, holy, sinless Messiah, the Figurative Son of GOD, who is the Word that became flesh dwelt among us (Jn.1:14) who came to dwell in a mortal body that never saw corruption (Ps.14:10), a pure deity manifest in the flesh.   He was not an incarnation, which would denote that 100% of GOD came in the flesh.  Yeshua was FULLY GOD in the flesh, but not 100% GOD.  YHWH is so infinite that He is everywhere and fills everything, so it would be impossible for ALL of GOD to be limited to a mortal body.  In the words of Dr. Friedman, “If we were to go to the Mediterranean Sea and fill a glass with sea water, we can say that all the water in the glass is truly sea water.  However we cannot call the glass, “The Mediterranean Sea.”  There is much more to the Mediterranean Sea than the glass.  Yet nonetheless, the water in that glass is truly Mediterranean Sea water through and through.”  I believe that Yeshua is the Kohen Ha Gadol (High priest) who became the ultimate, once and for all atoning sacrifice Himself, for all mankind (Heb.4:14-5:10; 6:19-8:2).” 

Fast forward to Matthew chapter 17 to the Mount of Transfiguration, when Yeshua’s Talmidim (Disciples) Kefa (Peter), Ya’akov (Jacob), and Yochannon (John) see Moshe (Moses) and Eliyahu (Elijah) talking with Yeshua the Messiah and Kefa said:

(Matt. 17:4) “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

No, he didn’t want to build a shrine to worship all three of them. He basically was saying, “Hey! If Moshe and Eliyahu are gonna stick around for Sukkot, let’s build them and you (speaking to Yeshua) a sukkah!”

The Scriptures never command us to celebrate the birth of the Messiah, but if you choose to do so, please do it on the right time of the year. The Messiah wasn’t born on December 25th; He doesn’t even go by the solar Gregorian calendar for that matter. You know who was born on December 25th? Saturnalia, Mithrah, Tammuz, all of which are pagan deities.

Sukkot not only reminds us of the wilderness where we came from, and the birth of the Messiah, but as we look up to the sky through our sukkah roof we anticipate and look forward to our future home and to Messiah’s return, which Natsari Rabbi’s speculate will be the season of His return too.

So this Sukkot as you pray or eat a meal in your sukkah. Ask God to make you a sukkah, a place in which the Messiah can dwell, a place where the Messiah can dwell among us.

Sukkot: The Original Thanksgiving

The Sukkot, also known as, The Feast of Tabernacles, is a High Holy Holiday appointed by God Himself. It’s a week-long Harvest Festival of thanksgiving and feasting, Leviticus 23:39-41: On the 15th day of the 7th month, when you have gathered in the fruits of your land, you shall keep the Feast of the LORD seven days it is a statute forever…  Most Americans don’t realize that Sukkot is the Original Thanksgiving. It is well documented that the pilgrims got their inspiration for Thanksgiving by reading about The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in their Bibles. During this Feast of Tabernacles, (also called a, “Feast of the LORD” and not a “Jewish Holiday,”) we dwell in make-shift, temporary shelters called, a sukkah (singular, and Sukkot, plural), likewise, during the pilgrim’s first winter in Massachusetts, they lived in huts called, wig-wams, which the local Indians helped them build. Historians speculate the pilgrim’s celebration was originally in early October, which, coincidentally, is during the time of Sukkot. They however, modified it from the original seven days as God commanded, to three days of thanksgiving. In our modern times, it has dwindled down to one day.

Thanksgiving is the only western holiday we cover that doesn’t have pagan origins.