Have you ever been to a simcha?  A simcha is a celebration.  So if you have ever been to a wedding, birthday party, bar mitzvah, or any other celebration, you've been to a simcha.  There is a Jewish Holy Day called Simchat Torah.  It celebrates the finishing of the reading of the Torah, and it occurs on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot.  The reading of the torah begins again the day after Sukkot ends. This is Simchat Torah.

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The sukkah, a fragile hut built of branches and leaves, is the main feature of the Sukkot festival. The origin of the practice of "dwelling in booths" during the festival is not certain. The Pentateuch (fifth book of the Bible) tells us that the sukkah is a reminder of days when Jews wandered in the desert and lived in tents. Many scholars believe this to be a forced interpretation of the word sukkah, and that if the sukkah was really connected with the Exodus, Passover would be the time for dwelling in booths. The Jewish philosophers Philo and Maimonides explained the sukkah as a symbol erected to bring evidence of misfortune at a time of good fortune. Still others believe that the sukkah reminds us that Jews live everywhere only temporarily, wandering eternally.

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Many non-Jews are familiar with Passover, Chanukah, and the High Holy Day days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  But few non-Jews know about, and many Jews have forgotten, an equally important Holy Day, Sukkot.  It is really the third of the High Holy Days and it is the seventh of the Biblical feasts.  Sukkot also lasts seven days.  Both the numbers three and seven are significant numbers in the Bible indicating that Sukkot is important.

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The third holy convocation of the High Holy Days is Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Booths.  Since this feast was often associated with the fall harvest it is also referred to in the Bible as the Feast of Ingathering.  The biblical roots for this feast is in the commandment that God gave to Moses found in Lev 23:42, 43 and Deut 16:12-15.

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Second only to the sukkah as prominent symbols of this feast of Sukkot are the Arba'at Ha-minim, the four species, which are gathered in keeping with the commandment found in Leviticus 23:40.

Making up "the four species" are the following (Scripture references in parenthesis are from CJB version of Lev. 23:40; the Rabbinical descriptions for each of the species was retrieved from Barney Kasdan's God Appointed Times):

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