Intermediate Days of Sukkot

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The rabbis of the Mishnah stated that on the holiday of Sukkot the world is judged for water. Just as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur marked the process of God judging humanity, Judaism believes that every aspect of creation has its time of judgment and, hence, we celebrate our opportunity to have influence upon these decisions. How much rain will fall in the coming year is decided on the holiday of Sukkot. Therefore, many of the prayers reflect our need for appropriate rains and our request that there be a favorable judgment.

The connection with water can be seen clearly if one stands and observes the hakkafot ceremony. The congregation’s movement around the sanctuary resembles the flowing movement of water and, thus, we not only state our prayers for much-needed water, but we also imitate its flow.

During Temple times there were water libations offered throughout the intermediate days. These water offerings were seen as a time of greatest joy for the nation and were celebrated with grand festivities.

Today, many traditionalist Jews refrain from going to work or school during hol hamo’ed, though others go about their usual weekday lives, albeit with the presence of the festival--the Sukkah, the lulav and etrog, the special prayers--punctuating their daily routine and reminding them of the themes of the holiday.

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