Posted by: davidbancroft | October 7, 2015

Priest blessing the people at the Kotel on Sukkot

The Priestly Blessing of Sukkot at the Western Wall


Western Wall during Sukkot Priestly Blessing

Western Wall

35,000 Jewish people reportedly gathered at the Western Wall on the day of the priestly blessing during Sukkot this year.  The priestly blessing is the time, twice a year, when those of Aaronic lineage stand at the base of the Western Wall and bless the Israelites.

The Four Species

Moses said concerning the feast of Sukkot, “On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days” (Lev 23:40; JPS).


Man with four species of Sukkot

Man during prayers of Sukkot

The Prayers

The Jewish people have interpreted these four species to be the etrog (citron) – yellow fruit, the lulav (palm branch), hadas (avot tree branch), and aravah (willows of the brook).  They carry these with them throughout the week to their prayers in the synagogue.

Time of Rejoicing

As the verse above says, this is a week of joy, and the Israelites were literally commanded to rejoice all week!  Part of the joy would have been over God’s provision – this festival takes place “after you have gathered the crops of the land” (Lev 23:39).

Sukkot Priestly blessing prayers

Man with gun during Sukkot prayers


As noted many times in the biblical narrative, the harvest was not necessarily a time of security (see the Book of Judges, for instance).  Israel today experiences uncertain times.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t rejoice, but neither does it mean you don’t carry a gun.

The Torah

The center of Jewish life was and is the Torah – the five books of Moses.  During a part of the prayer ceremony on this day, the Torah was brought out by each group represented and became the focus of attention.

The Torah Scroll by the Western Wall

Man reading prayer book

The Prayer Book

The prayer book contains the liturgy for the various feasts and prayer times.  This one makes a good picture because it’s the “large-print” edition.  The prayers of course are in Hebrew, as they always have been.



  1. thank you.The class misses you

    Sent from my iPad


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