A mahzor for Sukkot

The Koren Sukkot Maḥzor; Introduction, Translation, and Commentary by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, © 2015, ISBN 978-965-301-659-0, p. 1465, $24.95

By Fred Reiss, Ed.D.

Fred Reiss, Ed.D

Fred Reiss, Ed.D

WINCHESTER, California –  When a knowledgeable Jew hears the Hebrew word maḥzor, more than likely an image appears of a sanctuary filled with Jews praying during the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Yet, the maḥzor has nothing to do with these holy days, rather it refers to the concept of repeating, and the case of the Koren Sukkot Mahzor, it is the annual repetition of the holiday of Sukkot, which falls five days after Yom Kippur, with the appearance of the full moon.

Sukkot, one of the three pilgrimage holidays, the other two being Passover and Shavuot, is both an historical and an agricultural celebration. Historically, Sukkot memorializes the wandering of the Jewish people in the desert for forty years, a time when the Israelites lived in temporary houses, sukkot, and agriculturally it celebrates the fall harvest, with strange and alluring rituals.

The holiday of Sukkot continues for seven days, the last of which is called Hoshanah Rabbah, followed by Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly, as described in Leviticus 23:33-34, and Simchat Torah, a festivity denoting the completion of the reading of the Torah and cycling back to begin reading again. Taken together, these three holidays form a celebratory unity.

Rabbi Sacks opens The Koren Sukkot Maḥzor with a wonderful introduction to these holidays, including an historical accounting of the holiday between the First and Second Temple periods, why Sukkot is referred to biblically as “a season of joy,” and why the holiday includes the reading of the “strangest book” in the Hebrew Bible—Ecclesiastes.

In prayer books purporting to be “complete,” the reader generally must draw from a festival section, which incorporates selections devoted to the Sukkot holidays. “Selections,” however, is not the same as complete. The Koren Sukkot Maḥzor is a complete and comprehensive prayer book specifically for Sukkot, Hoshanah Rabbah, Shemeni Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.

In addition to all the required prayers, The Koren Sukkot Maḥzor contains the Book of Ecclesiastes with commentary, Massekhet Sukka based on The Koren Talmud Bavli, a Guide to Sukkot, and a Guide for Visitors to Israel.

The Koren Sukkot Maḥzor, a traditional prayer book based on the Ashkenaz format, offers thought-provoking commentaries, clear rubrics, and contemporary and meaningful translations; all presented in a bold, easy-to-read format. The Koren Sukkot Maḥzor is an exceptional and eloquent prayer book.

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Dr. Fred Reiss is a retired public and Hebrew school teacher and administrator. He is the author of The Standard Guide to the Jewish and Civil Calendars; Public Education in Camden, NJ: From Inception to Integration; Ancient Secrets of Creation: Sepher Yetzira, the Book that Started Kabbalah, Revealed; and a fiction book, Reclaiming the Messiah. The author may be contacted via [email protected].

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