WEEK ENDING 5th NOVEMBER 2016
Israel has been enjoying a long summer, and Sukkot despite being so late in October was sunny and dry, and the weather remains extremely pleasant. Short-sleeves at the beginning of November feel slightly ridiculous.
Sukkot go up all over the country, even people who are not particularly observant put one up and have some of their meals in it as a sort of long farewell to the summer.
I went to with my three grandsons and their honorary grandfather to buy Lulavim and Etrogim from the Arba Minim – Four species – fair that springs up opposite the bus station in Netanya. We went on the Saturday night when business was in full swing,, and since I was in the market for six sets negotiation was fierce but in the end we purchased them at 65 shekels per set. This used to be about £10 but now…
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah in Israel are combined as one day, which is very strange and actually doesn’t work very well. Shemini Atzeret itself is a day of reflection including Yizkor and Geshem, the prayer for rain which is badly needed in this country. The joy of Simchat Torah is reserved for the second day outside Israel.
In this country everything happens on one day, and the service is often longer than Rosh Hashanah. The first half of the morning is lively and joyous; after the Haftarah the mood suddenly changes.
I have to confess that I find everything being pushed into one day somewhat trying, so for the last few years I have gone to spend the festival with some friends in Jerusalem. On Simchat Torah about 25 of us prayed on the roof garden of the building, with a clear view down to the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, but the wind was quite cold.
On Simchat Torah morning in brilliant sunshine and a warm breeze we began about 9 AM and finished soon after 11, progress being lubricated by a fine selection of single malts. Strangely enough this also left me somewhat unsatisfied, and I’m wondering whether I really missed enough to complain about on Simchat Torah!