Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Sukkot: A Spiritual Harvest
By Tamara Rokicki
Harvest festivals represent renewal of body and mind--a harvesting of past mistakes, experiences, and relationships that is essential to personal development and growth. We are created to gather the balance of life and learn from its intricate patterns—the good and the bad. Connecting with Spirit helps identify with the seemingly mystical and distant aspects of life.
This balance and harvesting of life experience is reflected in ancient traditions. That many of them are still practiced today proves their importance in daily life and the human need for inspiration to start anew. The ancient Jewish Festival of Sukkot, like many harvest celebrations, reflects the spiritual side of reaping the fruit of our labors. Beginning the seventh month of the Jewish calendar and ending on Yom Kippur (which this year ends on October 12th), this seven-day festivity is a spiritual reconnection that harvests the good and the bad.
John Parsons, Hebrew historian and founder of the site Hebrew4Christians.com, writes that during this period, families construct a sukkah, or small tent, in which to consume the food prepared for the festival. It is a reminder of the forty-year sojourn in the desert where the Israelites lived in huts before transitioning to the new land.
Upon reaching their destination, Parsons writes that the Israelites continued observing Sukkot as a way to celebrate the fall harvest. As Sukkot ended the agricultural year, the Israelites decorated their huts in colorful displays.
Today, Sukkot is celebrated by eating harvest-inspired food, which includes fruit and vegetables in season. Jewish food and lifestyle blogger, Tori Avey, writes that kreplach, or stuffed dumplings, are also consumed during this time. It is very common to not only eat, but also sleep, in the makeshift sukkah for seven days.
Like many harvest festivals, Sukkot strongly represents the social connection between people. This origin of this festivity is deeply rooted in the thankfulness of the Jews being restored as People of God, and brought out of slavery into a new land. Sukkot is relatable because it represents a fresh start, a new way to harvest the past events and move forward with a clean slate. As the Israelites were granted freedom from slavery—and from sin—harvest festivals such as Sukkot offer that same spiritual renewal today by allowing a fresh start to harvest the fruit of our labors.