The raw connection of Succot to natural elements

Watch exclusive video: Dr. Jeremy Benstein talks Succot, rituals and the natural aspects of the holiday.

sukkah 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
sukkah 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Many consider the ancient rituals of shaking the lulav and etrog on Succot as an old relic of superstitious Judaism. While modern Judaism is rational and practical, many onlookers consider practices such as these to be pagan residue.
But Succot is more than that. The raw connection of Succot’s 'shaking ritual' to natural elements, and its strong natural symbols, are a great opportunity to slip away and delve into a more emotional world of a mystical and irrational side of Judaism.
Succot and its Connection to Nature
Through the harvest holiday of Succot, Judaism connects and reinforces a strong bond between mankind and nature. Despite perceiving ourselves as the nation of a Book, through Sukkot, we are once again taught to closely examine our relationship with the natural world.
Dr. Benstein alludes to our tradition offering us a unique opportunity that seems to be lacking in today's civilization. Do we overcome that void through finding the most perfect of the four species? Or by creating and following the rules of creating a Succa roof?Is there something else that you may connect to?
Environmental Social Commentary on Succot
There are many aspects of Jewish tradition that provide a type of social commentary about the world we live in. Succot is a holiday that turns us towards social equality. Just like eating the bread of affliction (matzah) on Passover, we're commanded to build the simplest of dwellings on Succot (a succa) in which we empathize not only with history, but also with those who live in a deficit and conditions less fortunate than ourselves all year round. One of the main causes of existing environmental issues is the social gap that consequently leads to unsustainable society. Use the values of Succot to reflect on your own lifestyle in terms of consumer patterns.