The month of Tishrei is a special and busy time for Jewish people around the world. We come together to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the new year by dipping apples in honey, eating round challah and blowing the shofar. Yom Kippur comes shortly after; the holiest day of the year in which we fast and atone for our sins. After such a solemn day, the Jewish people celebrate Sukkot, the holiday in which we are supposed to live in huts outside for seven days. The Sukkah represents the huts the Israelites lived in as they wandered through the desert for 40 years after escaping slavery in Egypt.
The holiday of Sukkot, also known as Hag Ha-asif (the Harvest Festival), is all about thanking God for the completed harvest and for protecting the people of Israel when they left Egypt. The four species of Sukkot, representing the four-letter name of God – the etrog, palm, myrtle and willow (also known as the lulav) are held together as we shake them in all four directions. We do this to praise God of the heavens and the entire earth, and we ask for rain to make our land fertile.
On a deeper level, we are completely immersing ourselves into the holiday. Not only are we physically surrounded by the sukkah, but by the action of shaking the lulav, the holiday enters us as well.
The combination of these three holidays all in the month of Tishrei really makes you think about how we as humans act on a day-to-day basis. We spend more time wishing the day was over rather than appreciating that we have been blessed with a new day. We spend more time blaming others instead of taking a step back and reflecting on our own actions and how we can be better people. We spend more time with our cell phones than we do appreciating the beautiful world we live in and the people around us.
The four species represent different limbs in our body. The etrog is the heart, a place in which we love and understand others. The palm is the backbone which keeps us upright. The myrtle is the eyes in which we see the life we were given. The willow is the lips we use to pray to God and speak in loving ways to others.
May we live our lives like we do in the month of Tishrei, celebrating each new day, taking personal responsibility for our actions and thanking God for the world around us.
Danielle Zborovsky is a senior at The Ohio State University. She was a marketing intern at the Columbus Jewish News this summer.