*The Hebrew word uspiz (=arameus) means guest, host and innkeeper. Here it means guests, specifically legendary, virtual guests who visit the Jewish man's tent daily during the Festival of Tents.

The idea of uspizin, or inviting symbolic guests to visit our tent on Sukkot days. The traditional "uspizin" are the three forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. Nowadays, many tents invite foremothers as well as other prominent female figures. This list is flexible, as it is only in modern times that communities have begun to pay attention to balance. Our tradition abounds with female figures who have given as much value to Judaism and the world as the traditional male guests. One such female uspizin list is this one: Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, Leah, Miriam, Abigail and Esther.

The custom of uspizin was popularised by the Kabalists of Safed, who invented the blessing of guests. For the Kabalists, each guest represented one of the sefirot, the sefirot that sum up the universe in Kabalistic thought. With their invitation, each day added a different mystical meaning to the feast.

Sephardic Jews, that is, those whose roots go back to Spain, would place a beautifully decorated chair in the tent for the honored guest and say, "This is the chair of the uspizin."

Another connection between the uspizin and the Feast of Tabernacles is that all the guests were wanderers or exiles: Abraham left his father's house to go to the Promised Land, all three forefathers wandered in the land of Canaan and came from a disadvantaged position with the rulers: Jacob fled to Laban, Joseph was sent into exile by his family, Moses fled to Midian from Egypt, and then wandered with his people in the desert for 40 years, along with his brother Aaron. David fled from Saul. The transience at the heart of the feast is thus not only represented by the tabernacle, which symbolises wandering and homelessness, but is also reflected in the life of the Uspizins.

The feast invites us to treat the Uspizin as genuine guests in the tent. Have a chair to sit on. Let us see the world through his eyes. How would Abraham or Rachel see our world? What idols would our first forefather smash if he were alive today? Who would Esther have to save the Jewish community from? What would be Moses' great challenge as a leader?


The tent, in all its rules of construction, symbolizes that on Sukkot we leave our familiar, stable dwelling and move from the permanent to the temporary. We experience the precarious, the simple, the narrow.

We remember the wanderings, the vulnerability, and that the protection of the Eternal was with us then and we hope it will be with us in these days.

Time spent in the tent helps us to distance ourselves from the material goods that usually fill our surroundings. In our daily lives, we often surround ourselves with, cling to, depend on, and are surrounded by our possessions, our beautiful, precious objects.

Sukkot forces us to abandon them and return to a simpler, nomadic existence, even if only temporarily. Our priorities change, and our attention is focused on ethnicity, spirituality and the idea that all prosperity can vanish in an instant. We are forced to empathise with the experience of what it must be like for someone who has nothing, no shelter, who is forced to shelter in temporary shelters day after day.

The Festival of Tents takes us back to a time when the whole nation was homeless and wandering. In the desert, we often asked for help from neighbouring peoples and were often refused. It is customary to invite guests to sit and eat with us in the tent to show that we have learned from our experiences and to remember the importance of compassion in a world where material goods come and go easily.

The holiday of Sukkot is also good to realise how dependent we are on nature and how important our role is in preserving it.

By putting us outside our familiar world, Sukkot also changes our perspectives. We look at the world from a different perspective, we are in transition, we are in transition, nature is in transition and the community is in transition. In transition from summer to winter, from indoors to outdoors, and from the old year to the new.




branch of a palm tree


branch of the myrtle tree


leafy branch of the willow tree



The holiday of Sukkot has one more special feature: the obligatory purchase of four kinds of plants - a citrus fruit (etrog), a palm branch (lulav), a myrtle branch (hadas) and a willow branch (aravah) - and the making of a bouquet of them to rejoice before the Eternal.

The lulav, the hades and the aravah are to be tied into a bouquet, but the etrog is not placed among them. Each person should have his own supply of the four plants, as this is the only way to fulfill the Torah requirement.

The lulav should be tied with the myrtle and willow twigs in the right hand, and the etrog, stem side up, in the left hand.


The lulav bouquet, according to the rabbis, also symbolizes the Jewish community, the unity within the diversity of the Jews in the community. How do you see the Jewish community today? What do you can identify with and what can you not?

According to tradition, the four very different races represent the Jewish people. Just as among the four races there are some that have a smell and a taste, some that have only a taste or a smell, and some that have neither: so, too, the Jewish people is made up of individuals who are also very different. There are those who learn and do, but there are also those who either only learn or only do good deeds, and of course there are those who do neither. Together they are Judaism. 

So it is very significant that we tie the bunch together.

The number four is also significant, which is especially appropriate for a holiday that is so closely tied to the land. We can think of the four directions, the four winds, the four seasons...


We're shaking the lulav now

(Shaking the lulav)

Up and down

(Back and forth)

Take it into the Sukkah now

(Into the Sukkah)

All seven days   

(But not on Shabbos - oooh)

I got the four species now

(Arba minim)

My willow branches, yeah


I shaka, shaka shake my myrtle now

(That's Hadassim)

And now I'm feeling b'simcha    

(I knew you would - ooooh)

We're shaking the lulav now

(Shaking the lulav)

Front and back

(6 directions)

Take it back to the center now

(Back to the center)

Hodu LaShem Ki Tov    

(Ki L'olam Chasdo - ooooh)

A got a bumpy little esrog now 

(Yellow citron)

You know it looks so fine 

(Smells so good)

It's gonna make some tasty jelly, yeah 

(Havdala spice)

But during Sukkos you're mine   

(I know you're mine - ooooh)

Hoshia na

Hatzlicha na

Hoshia na

Hatzlicha na

We're shaking the lulav now 

(Shaking the lulav)

Up and down

(Back and forth)

Come on, come on, come on, in the sukkah now

(Into the Sukkah)

Get on under the s'chach  

(Under the s'chach - oooh)

Come on invite the Ushipzin now 

(Avraham Avinu)

You gotta open your heart

(Open wide)

I'm loving loving Am Yisrael 

(The Jewish people)

We're all together now   

(All together now - oooh)

We'll shake-a, shake-a, shake-a lulav now 

(Shake the lulav)

We'll shake-a, shake-a, shake-a lulav now 

(Shake the lulav)

We'll shake-a, shake-a, shake-a lulav now 

(Shake the lulav)

Chag sameach! 

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