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In reading the tractate Succah, both Palestinian and Babylonian, we come across some fascinating social history regarding the role of the shofar in the ceremonies of the Holy Temple. We learn that part of the Succot ceremony is celebrated today insofar as dwelling in the sukah and handling the lavav (palm branch), etrog (related to the lemon and indigenous to Israel), myrtle branch and water willow branch (Arava). Two important ceremonies, however, were not carried over from the rites of the Holy Temple on Succot: the Aravot Ceremonyand the Water Libation Ceremony and.
TheAravot ceremony consisted of bringing in water willow braches that were stood up with the tops touching the alter. The Priests would then encircle the altar reciting Psalms arguably with the either the willow braches in hand or the luvav in hand.
Water Libation Ceremony
The Water Libation Ceremony was performed each day of Succot. The rationale teaches the Jewish people to bring water before Him on Succot, petitioning for adequate rains, paramount to the success of an agricultural society. (Succah Bavli 37; and RH 16a). Another interpretation from the Midrash is that the lower waters were sad when God separated the waters to upper and lower. Their distress was noted by God that the lower waters would be elevated during this season. (RabbaynuBachya to Lev 1:13) The Water Libation ceremony was an elaborate ritual emitting great joy, in fulfilling of Is. 12:3: ³´You shall draw water with joy from the wellsprings of salvation.´
The Water Libation ceremony, however, was a joyous celebration during the holiday of Succot. We find a minute description of this water libation ceremony in Talmud Yerulshalmi 30a, whereintwo priests stood by the Upper Gate that; led to the Israelites courtyard. When the crier called out, the Kohanin sounded a series of tekiah, teruah and tekiah. They sound the shofar series again ± only longer according to Rashi as they went to the East. The procession went to the gates, facing the Nicanor¶s Gate, bowing toward the sanctuary OF God, faces to the East. They then turned to the West and said: our forefathers who were in this placebutasfor us out eyes are toward God (*and Yuh ± close the ineffable name) was spoken to betoken God. Thereafter, the trumpet sounders arrived at the tenthstep (the Rabbi¶s come to no conclusion as whether this was the tenth step from the bottom of the tenth step from the top ± there arefifteen steps in all). (Succah Yerush. 31a) The Jewish Encyclopedia cites the elegance of primacy of the elaborate Water Libation Ceremony: To express their contempt of the Sadducees on the one hand and to strengthen their own position on the other, the Rabbis embellished the libation of water with so much ceremony that it became a favorite and distinctive rite on these occasions. On the night of the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles the outer court of the Temple was brilliantly illuminated with four golden lamps, each containing 120 logs of oil, in which were burning the old girdles and garments of the priests (Bavli. Shab. 21a; Bavli. Yoma 23a). These lamps were placed on high pedestals which were reached by ladders; and special galleries were erected in the court for the accommodation of women, while the men below held torches in their hands, sang hymns, and danced. On the fifteen steps of the Gate of Nicanor stood the Levites, chanting the fifteen "songs of
degrees" (Ps. 120-124.) to the accompaniment of their instruments, of which the most important was the flute, although it was used neither on the Sabbath nor on the first day of the feast (Suk. v. 1). The illumination, which was like a sea of fire, lit up every nook and corner of Jerusalem, and was so bright that in any part of the city a woman could pick wheat from the chaff. Whosoever did not see this celebration never saw a real one (Suk. 53a). Hillel the Elder encouraged general rejoicing and participated in the celebration that all might follow his example, while R. Simeon b. Gamaliel juggled with eight torches, throwing them in the air and catching them again, thus showing his joy at the feast. R. Joshua b. Hananiah states that the festival was celebrated throughout the night with songs, music, shouting, clapping of hands, jumping, and dancing.
Role of the Trumpet (Shofar)
Succah 31b (Palestinian) give a social history of the role of the shofar in the Holy Temple, with particular emphasis on Succot.
Indeed, the shofar was sounded in the Temple every day from 21 to 48 times:three times to accompany
the opening of the Temple Courtyard Gates; 9-blasts to accompany the morning offering; another 9-blasts to accompany the afternoon sacrifice; 9 for the musaf offering.
On days when there was an additional sacrifice (Musaf), commemorating New Moons, festivals,and other special days, another 9-blass were added. Prior to the Sabbath, on Friday, the shofar sounded 6-blasts. The first three blasts for cessation of labor to prepare for the Sabbath. The latter three sounds to separate the sacred from the profane in order toofficially begin the Sabbath. If a Friday fell during the Succotfestival, there were a total of 48 blasts. 3=opening of the Courtyard Gates 3=Upper Gate 3=Lower Gate 3=for the filling of water from the spring of Siloam 3=when the water willow branches were placed by the altar 9=morning tamid offering 9=afternoon offering 9=additional offering for special days 3=to tell people to ceaselabor 3= distinguish between the Sacred and profane. Notes in the Talmud tells us that blowing the trumpets at a sacrificial services is derived from Num. 10:10
And a day of your joy and on your festivals and on your Rosh Chodesh(New Moon) days, you shall sound the trumpets over your olah (burnt sacrifice) offerings and over your shelamim(peace sacrifices) offerings, etc.
After the procession marched to the Lower Gate, it drew water for the libation from the well spring of Siloam. See Rashi. The Rabbi¶s interpret this verse to include the daily sacrifice (ZevechTodah to Tamid, Ch 7; Minchas Chimnuch 384:7) The Rabbi¶s also point out that3-blasts were omitted,when climbingdown the steps to the Woman¶s Courtyard. In the next Gemora, the Rabbi¶s explain that the writer of the prior Mishnah was different from the writer of the second Mishnah. Accordingly there is an unresolved dispute. It turns out that one
Tanna cites three blasts on the tenth step in Mishnah; the second, the three blasts are at the side of the altar. Nevertheless, they agreed on the 48 blasts. (Succah, Yersush. 31a) The Rabbi¶s then discuss the implications of Num. 10:8 ³they shall blow´ teaches that these blastssound during the additional service. Then the Rabbi¶s debate whether these blasts are in addition to the already mentioned blasts. They indicate that there may be more shofar blowers but no more blasts than originally decided. This elaborate Water Libation ceremony pictured Assistants to the Priests (Leviim) playing various musical (flutes, copper air pipes, different types of harps and percussion).Levites aredescendants of Aaron.The Kohanim ("Priests") had the special role as priests in the Tabernacle in the wilderness and also in the Temple in Jerusalem. The remaining Levites (Levi'im in Hebrew), divided into three groups (the descendants of Gershon; the descendants of Kohath, and the descendants of Merari) filled different roles in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple services.
Water: Special Significance
Why was a special offering of water brought on Succot? The Talmud (Rosh HaShana 16a) writes that as the world is judged for water on Succot, we bring a water offering so that the rains for the coming year should be blessed. Another reason is that the holiday of the harvest moon (on which Succot begins) occurs five days after Yom Kippur in the harvest season. During the harvest season, a person may become haughty and forget God. The Rabbi¶s reflect that haughtiness affects not only farmers, of course. The wise may take credit for their knowledge and those of fine character may take credit for their graces. The bottom line is that all we get, whether it be money, wisdom, or respect comes from God http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/sukkos/vol3no21.html
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