Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Birth of Yeshua (Jesus) on Sukkot

Hag Sukkot / Feast of Tabernacles


October 12-19, 2011

Rabbi Gary Davidson, right, and Jewish personnel celebrate Sukkot on an Air Force base in the Middle East. Photo courtesy Rabbi Gary Davidson
Rabbi Gary Davidson, right, and Jewish personnel celebrate Sukkot on an Air Force base in the Middle East. Photo courtesy Rabbi Gary Davidson

For the Record

To my fellow member of the human race
It has come to my attention that certain members of my people have been promulgating a doctrine that distorts the essence of the teaching that we were entrusted with.
You have heard how the Creator of all took us out of Egypt with signs and wonders and how He taught us His Torah through national revelation and through His prophet. The open miracles that God preformed for us spread our reputation as the possessors of God’s Law. These men of whom I speak, exploited our reputation as possessors of God’s truth, and they spread a teaching that has no basis in the Torah that God has bequeathed to us.
These teachers taught you that all of mankind is damned before God to eternal punishment. They taught that if a person commits one sin it is as if he or she violated all of the commandments. These men taught that the God of Israel will not forgive your sins unless you present a blood sacrifice. These men taught that the God of Israel is unapproachable. And they taught that the good deeds that you do will not bring you any closer to God.
All of these teachings are blatant falsehoods. As a member of the people who were entrusted with God’s Law, I see it as my duty to correct these falsehoods that were taught as if they were the Law of my God.
God does NOT condemn everyone to the fires of eternal damnation. You can search the Jewish Scriptures from cover to cover; you will not find one verse that supports such a teaching.
A person who commits one sin is NOT equivalent in God’s eyes as if they violated the entirety of the Law. The Scriptures explicitly teach that God judges every deed, both bad and good (Ecclesiastes12:14). The conscience that God breathed into all of us tells us that there is a great difference in God’s eyes between a person who lived a moral life on the one hand and a person who lived a life of cruelty and immorality on the other hand.
The Jewish Scriptures do NOT teach that God requires blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. The Scriptures openly declare that if you turn to God in sincere repentance, God will forgive you (Isaiah 55:7).
The Jewish Scriptures do NOT teach that God is unapproachable. On the contrary, our prophets declare that God is close to all who call upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18).
If I were to say that the good deeds that you do will bring you closer to God, I will not have said enough. Our prophets taught us that the practice of justice IS intimacy with God (Jeremiah 22:16). When we follow the universal principle of justice: “that which you hate done unto yourself, do not do unto others”, we allow God’s truth to penetrate into our psyche. When we recognize the grace of God’s goodness that is expressed in every detail of existence, and we are moved to take the goodness that we were blessed with and allow it to flow towards another creation of God, we have then connected to the kindness and love of God. It is not that these activities bring us closer to God. The practice of kindness and truth are a connection to God in and of themselves.
There is one more false teaching that these men have propagated in the name of the Torah of my God. They have encouraged people to direct their hearts in worship of and in devotion to a man who walked God’s earth and breathed God’s air like the rest of us.
If there is any teaching that is contrary to the Torah with which we were entrusted it is this one.
My nation was called upon by God to serve as His witnesses (Isaiah 43:10). God taught us that there is none beside Him that is worthy of our worship and devotion (Deuteronomy4:35). Our core duty as a witness nation before God is to remain loyal to the truth that all created beings are equally subservient to the One Creator of all. Every facet of our existence, including our ability to love and to worship belongs to God and to God alone. It is my duty as a Jew to testify to you that your heart belongs to the One Almighty God who loved your heart into existence in the first place.
There is no greater joy on earth than approaching your Creator in heartfelt prayer. You don’t need anyone to plead for you and you don’t need to bring Him a blood sacrifice. The One who lovingly created every facet of your existence will accept you. All you have to do is to trust in His love.
A Jew

"On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to Yahweh. On the first day is a solemn assembly; you shall do no laborious work of any kind." . . . "You shall dwell in tabernacles for seven days." (Leviticus 23:34-42)
Observing Hag Sukkot - the Feast of Tabernacles, means having a seven-day (hag) feast, dwelling in a (sukkah) tabernacle, and keeping the first day holy (dedicated to worship).
For seven nights we sleep in a sukkah - a temporary shelter made from tree branches and leaves, not a hotel room or cabin. One may work during the day except on the first day.
For seven days we eat a festive meal of symbolic foods - including tree fruit and nuts: this is the final-harvest festival. The evening festive meal is eaten in the sukkah, as well as any other meals eaten 'at home'.

Leviticus 5:11-13
But if his means are insufficient for two turtle doves or for two young doves, then he shall bring, as his guilt-offering for that which he sinned a tenth-ephah of fine flour for a sin-offering; he shall not place oil on it nor shall he put frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. He shall bring it to the Kohen, and the Kohen shall scoop his three fingers full as its memorial portion and cause it to go up in smoke on the Altar, on the fires of Hashem; it is a sin-offering. The Kohen shall provide him atonement for the sin that he committed regarding any of these, and it will be forgiven him; and it shall belong to the Kohen, like the meal-offering.

"Hashem gladly accepts a simple product grown from the soil of the earth upon His altar as a sin offering. A product of grain ground into flour offered by a poor Jew. Obviously flour is not a blood sacrifice. It is a grain sacrifice. These verses of the Torah clearly dispute what the author of the Epistle of Hebrews wrote in chapter nine verse twenty-two. The King James Translators state: And almost all things are by the law [the Torah} purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. The New International Version states: In fact, the law [the Torah] requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

It is interesting that so much emphasis is placed on just the words without shedding of blood is no remission" and "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

The word ALMOST and the words NEARLY EVERYTHING are ignored! Yet their presence agrees with Leviticus 5:11-13. In other words a blood sacrifice is not the only way."

The Seven-Day Wedding Feast
(to be installed) see COMMENTARY Y1-28
The Biblical Etrog
One year after picking
The etrog is Biblically known as “the fruit of beautiful trees” and “the fruit that dwells”.
“Now on the first day (of the Feast of Tabernacles) you shall take for yourselves (Heb. - pri etz hadar) the fruit of beautiful trees, (lulav) date-palm branches, and boughs of braided (Myrtle) trees and (arava) willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God for seven days” – Leviticus 23:40.
"Pri etz hadar" can mean the fruit tastes the same as the tree, or the fruit dwells on the tree from year to year (Mesechet Sukkah 35a), from the basis of fruit that is a continuance of (the taste or part of) the tree.
The etrog is a citrus fruit that grows on a broadleaf evergreen tree. It is known for its taste and fragrance. Other fruits fall from their trees in one season – after ripening; the etrog continues to hold on more tightly – it “dwells” on the tree, taking years to ripen. Fruit from several years, at various stages of ripening, hang on a tree at one time.
The entire tree, including branches, leaves, and fruit, is edible. All of it tastes like the fruit. The fruit, which is similar to a lemon in appearance, has a deep yellow skin covering a thick white pithy portion, and a small amount of juicy fruit toward the center.
When the picked fruit is kept, either refrigerated or open in a room, it does not rot. It dries, and becomes smaller and smaller over many years, until finally disappearing (presumably by evaporating).
The etrog has both a flavor and a scent, like one who is both learned and observant of the commandments. The lulav is from a date palm, and so it has a taste but no scent. It is likened to one who is learned but does not apply that knowledge in action. A myrtle has a pleasant odor but there is nothing tasty about it, and it parallel’s one who has little book learning behind his or her observance. Finally the willow lacks both fragrance and food value, just like one who neither studies the Torah nor keeps the commandments – (From a midrash in Vayikrah Rabba 30:12).

Readings for Hag Sukkot
1st Day Num 29:12-16 Lev 22:26 - 23:44 Haftara: Zech 14:1-21
2nd Day Num 29:17-19
3rd Day Num 29:20-22
4th Day Num 29:23-25
5th Day Num 29:26-28
6th Day Num 29:29-31
7th Day Num 29:32-34
For Eighth Day, see SHIMINI ATZERET

How is Sukkot Observed?

An Overview of Sukkot's Traditions and Customs

For forty years, as our ancestors traversed the Sinai Desert prior to their entry into the Holy Land, miraculous "clouds of glory" surrounded and hovered over them, shielding them from the dangers and discomforts of the desert. Ever since, we remember G‑d's kindness and reaffirm our trust in His providence bydwelling in a sukkah – a hut of temporary construction with a roof-covering of branches – for the duration of the autumn Sukkot festival. For seven days and nights, we eat all our meals in the sukkah – reciting a special blessing – and otherwise regard it as our home.
We reaffirm our trust in His providence by dwelling in a sukkahAnother mitzvah that is unique to Sukkot is the taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog (citron), a lulav(palm frond), at least three hadassim (myrtle branches) and two aravot (willow branches). The Midrash tells us that the Four Kinds represent the various types and personalities that comprise the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity we emphasize on Sukkot.
On each day of the festival (except Shabbat), during the daytime hours, we take the Four Kinds, recite a blessing over them, bring them together in our hands and wave them in all six directions: right, left, forward, up, down and to the rear. (The Four Kinds are also an integral part of the holiday's daily morning service.)
Sukkot is also called The Time of Our Joy; indeed, a special joy pervades the festival. Nightly Water-Drawing Celebrations, reminiscent of the evening-to-dawn festivities held in the Holy Temple in preparation for the drawing of water for use in the festival service, fill the synagogues and streets with song, music, and dance until the wee hours of the morning.
Sukkot runs from the fifteenth through the twenty-first ofTishrei. The first two days of this festival (in Israel only the first day) are a major holiday, when most forms of work are prohibited. On the preceding nights, women and girls light candles, reciting the appropriate blessings, and we enjoy nightly and daily festive meals, accompanied by the Kiddush.
Celebrations fill the streets with song and dance until the wee hours of the morningThe remaining days of the festival are Chol Hamoed ("intermediate days"), when most forms of work are permitted. We try to avoid going to work, writing, and certain other activities – many families use this time to enjoy fun family outings.
Every day of Sukkot, including Chol Hamoed, we recite the complete Hallel, Hoshanot, and Musaf, and theTorah is read during the morning service.
The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshanah Rabbah("Great Salvation"). According to tradition, the verdict for the new year – which is written on Rosh Hashanahand sealed on Yom Kippur – is not handed down by the Heavenly Court until Hoshanah Rabbah. On this day we encircle the bimah (synagogue reading table) seven times while holding the Four Kinds and offering special prayers for prosperity during the upcoming year. During the course of the morning prayers it is also traditional to take a bundle of five willow branches and beat them against the ground five times.
Sukkot is immediately followed by the independent holiday of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.
Chabad-Lubavitch of Rome director Rabbi Yitzchak Hazan welcomes officials to the “Sukkah of Peace” erected for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot at the city’s Piazza Farnese.
Chabad-Lubavitch of Rome director Rabbi Yitzchak Hazan welcomes officials to the “Sukkah of Peace” erected for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot at the city’s Piazza Farnese.

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