Sukkot starts Wednesday night. In Deut. 16:15, we told “v’hayita ach sameach,” “you will be altogether happy”  on Sukkot, and it is one holiday that become more fun over my lifetime. More people have a home sukkah and a lulav (made of a palm frond, myrtle leaves, and willow leaves) and etrog (citron) or have friends with these.  There’s a lot of socializing, both actual and symbolic (when you invite the 7 ushpizin (Aramaic for “guests”), the souls of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and King David. See )

Last year, Rich and I put up the old wooden lattice sukkah for the last time.  While the warpage created a visually interesting structure, it was no longer stable enough even for a by-definition temporary building.  This year I splurged on a pre-fab sukkah kit. Steel tubing and fittings. Canvas walls.  Bamboo poles on top to support the vegetation (s’chach). You put it together like a Tinkertoy. No tools, no splinters.  We put it up Sunday and I added the s’chach (corn stalks and evergreen branches) today.

The rabbis may have been suffering from holiday when they assigned the Torah readings for Sukkot; for the first two days, they are identical. Both scrolls. Lev. 22:26 – 23:44 (holidays) and Numbers 29:12-16 (sacrifices).  Different Haftarot, though, Zechariah 14:1-21 on day 1 and I Kings 8:2-21 second day, which each refer to Sukkot.  Then on Saturday, Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot, the readings are Exodus 33:12 – 34:26 (Moses sees the Lord’s back and goes up more tablets) and, for the 3rd day of Sukkot, Numbers 29:17-22 (sacrifices).  The haftarah is Ezekiel 38:18 – 39:16; some think his amazing visions were triggered by epileptic seizures.  Another custom is to read is the book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet); if nothing actually were new under the sun, we’d have no need for patent reform and I’d have no job.

I am already verging on OD’ing on holidays.  I know that we can’t the Biblically-assigned date of Sukkot, but I may have a work-around: There was in ancient times a “Pesach Sheni,” (second Passover) a month after the first, for those who couldn’t share in the Pesach sacrifice because of ritual impurity.  Maybe we could have a Sukkot Sheni a month later, for those who suffer from ritual exhaustion at the ordained time?  Just a thought.

Chag sameach and an early Shabbat shalom,
Speaking of Tinkertoys –

The Tinkertoy Computer
By James Grahame
Tinkertoy computer
This brilliant Tinkertoy digital computer was built by a team of students at MIT in the 1980s. It’s a marvel of mechanical design that apparently plays a “mean game of tic-tac-toe.” The idea was born in 1975, when two Sophomores worked on a class project to build something digital from Tinkertoys.  It took another few years before they collaborated over the phone to design a working machine for the Mid-America Science Museum:
“A Tinkertoy framework called the read head clicks and clacks its way down the front of the monolith At some point the clicking mysteriously stops; a “core piece” within the framework spins and then with a satisfying “‘kathunk’ indirectly kicks an ‘output duck,’ a bird-shaped construction. The output duck swings down from its perch so that its beak points at a number- which identifies the computer’s next move in a game of tic-tac-toe.”

The Tinkertoy Computer is now on display at the
Museum of Science in Boston, where it will undoubtedly inspire legions of future Tinkertoy scientists. Here’s a link to a behind-the-scenes article from the October 1989 issue of Scientific American.

A Tinkertoy computer that plays tic-tac-toe
Build Your Own Digicomp Mechanical Computer
[I’ve read of actual court cases similar to this story. IGP]
A House on the Roof

Levy built a sukkah on the roof of his apartment building several days before the eight-day holiday of Sukkot began. After the holiday began, the landlord noticed it and demanded that it be removed immediately, claiming it was a violation of the terms of the building lease. Levy refused, telling the landlord that since this was a religious observance, he had the right to build the sukkah there.

The landlord disagreed and took the case to court.

In court, the landlord argued that the sukkah was unsightly, against the terms of the lease, and was a fire hazard. Levy argued that his religious rights would be ignored. The judge, who happened to be Jewish, listened patiently and then offered his verdict.

“I agree with the landlord in this case, and I therefore rule that you have ten days from today to take down your hut.”

—Based on David A. Adler, The House on the Roof: a Sukkot Story. New York: Bonim Books

How do you shake your lulav? [abridged]

by Heshy Fried on October 13, 2008 · 12 comments

So there you are standing in shul about to shake your lulav and boom you notice the guy in front of you shaking it a different way then you tend to shake, sizing him up quickly with his gray beard and black hat you decide that he is probably more knowledgeable then you in these matters. Taking into account his silver etrog dish and green lulav holder, you realize he has been doing the lulav shake longer then you have been alive- so you begin to bust out his same moves, but then you notice another similar looking fellow doing something totally different, has the world gone mad?

Nope, this is how it is in shuls across the land as folks prepare to do one of Judaism’s weirdest rituals, folks wonder what exactly is the right way to shake the lulav.

The Thrust:
The shaker thrusts the lulav forward and back three times, as if he or she were trying to penetrate some unknown object three above of their head. The thrust is usually done without an actual shake at the end of the thrust, and therefore is seen as untznius (not properly decorous) in many circles.

The Pom-Pom (power shake):
The pom-pom AKA the Power Shake, is when the person wielding the lulav brings it up for the thrust and then just shakes it for a few moments, instead of bringing it back three times to shake, they tend to shake it in all its fury like a mad-cow-diseased cheerleader at one of those “Bring it On” style contests.

The Thrust-Shake Combo:
Exactly as it sounds, this is when a full thrust is combined with a full shake. I think this is the most common of all shakes, I of course have no idea what the “proper” way to do it is, but this seems to fly in most shuls.

The Silent Shake:
Sometimes when the fellow next to you just ain’t rockin’ the shake you wonder if they wound his lulav rings too tight. and its preventing any slapping leaves from emitting a sound.

The Hurricane:
Usually done by Lubavitchers while opting for the lulav chokehold, in order that they can hold the obscenely huge esrogim they buy. The Hurricane is also done by the drunken folks taking shots in the mini-sukkah before Hallel.

Stiff Necked:
Also known as the Buckingham Palace Guard imitation. This is when the shaker doesn’t thrust the lulav anywhere but straight ahead parallel to them, as if there is someone in front of them and they are robotically pushing something out of the way.

The Boogie:
This is when the shaker, shakes it like a salt shaker. These folks are usually in their own worlds, to the point that they are poking people in the eye and damaging their lulav on ceiling fans and chandeliers.

[There’s also a video at the site.]

Ministry to Tourists: Bring the Etrog, Leave the Lulav Behind [abridged]

By David Lev
First Publish: 9/22/2011, 12:35 PM

If you’re visiting Israel for Sukkot, the Agriculture Ministry has a message for you: Leave the Lulav behind. Customs officials will seize and dispose of all lulavim (palm fronds), hadassim (myrtles), and aravot (willow branches). Those who wish may bring an etrog (citron) into the country – but only one per traveler – and must declare it before entering. Failing to follow the rules could result in a large fine, Ministry officials said.

Like most countries, Israel regulates the import of agricultural products, and as fresh agricultural products, the Four Species are subject to regulations ensuring that no problematic agricultural diseases or destructive pests enter the country.

Tourists carrying an Etrog will be required to declare it at customs, and if it checks out – meaning that it does not have any lesions or other blemishes indicating disease – the etrog will be given a “visa.” If not, the traveler will be directed to one of Israel’s many “arba minim” (four species) markets, where they can purchase their Sukkot supplies.

The rules, by the way, apply to other items associated with the High Holiday season, including apples, honey, pomegranates, dates, etc. Pomegranates (rimonim) are an especially favorite item for smugglers, the Ministry said, and alert customs agents have several suitcases full of pomegranates. Inspectors will be especially paying attention to travelers arriving from Italy, France and Morocco regarding smuggled etrogim.



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