Treatise in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and both Talmudim, dealing chiefly with the regulations regarding the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. xxiii. 34-36; Num. xxix. 12 et seq.; Deut. xvi. 13-16). In most of the editions it is the sixth treatise in the mishnaic order Mo'ed. It is divided into five chapters, containing fifty-three paragraphs in all. The contents may be summarized as follows:
- Ch. i.: Prescribed height of the Tabernacle; its walls; nature of the covering; and time of making the tent or booth (§ 1); circumstances rendering the booth unfit for use at the festival; material to be used for the covering and the walls; nature of the walls; distance between the walls and the covering (§§ 2-11).
- Ch. ii.: How the obligation of sleeping in the tent during the festival may be fulfilled (§ 1); further details as to the nature of the tent (§§ 2-3); cases in which a person is released from the obligation of sleeping and eating in the booth (§ 4); how the obligation of eating in the tent may be met, and how many meals must be eaten in the booth during the festival (§§ 5-7); women, slaves, and small children are released from all obligation regarding the tent; age at which children are subjected to the laws regarding the booth (§ 8); cases in which persons are released from the obligation of remaining in the booth during rain (§ 9).
- Ch. iii.: The Lulab (comp. Lev. xxiii. 40; Neh. viii. 15), made of the palm-, myrtle-, and willow-branches, and the etrog (citron); the kinds of branches that are unfit ("pasul"; §§ 1-3); the number of myrtle and willow-branches necessary for the lulab (§ 4); the kind of etrog that is unfit (§§ 5-7);material for binding the lulab (§ 8); passages of the Psalms during which the lulab must be waved on reciting "Hallel" (§ 9); recitation of the "Hallel" (§§ 10-11); while the Temple was standing the lulab was carried within its walls on all the seven days of the feast, but outside on one day only; after the destruction of the Temple R. Johanan b. Zakkai decreed that in commemoration of the former custom the lulab should be carried in the provinces on all the seven days (§ 12); what must be done if the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles falls on a Sabbath (§§ 13-15).
- Ch. iv.: Number of days on which the several ceremonies of Sukkot are observed (§§ 1-3, 8); manner of observing the regulation regarding the lulab (§ 4); manner of placing the willow-branches around the altar, and the processions around it; the recitations during these processions, and the sentences at their close; how this ceremony is observed on the Sabbath (§§ 5-7); the custom of pouring out water, and attendant ceremonies, and how observed on the Sabbath (§§ 9-10).
- Ch. v.: Further details regarding the ceremonies of drawing and pouring water; manifestations of joy during the act, and the recitations with musical accompaniment (§§ 1-4); how many times during the day the shofar was sounded in the Temple, and how many times on the Friday of the feast (§ 5); sacrifices offered at the Feast of Tabernacles; the divisions of priests taking part in them, and the distribution among them of the sacrificial portions and the showbread (§§ 6-8).
The Tosefta to this treatise, which is divided into four chapters, contains many haggadic sentences, of which the following may be quoted here: "Every tribe of the people of Israel has produced a judge of the people and a prophet; Judah and Benjamin also anointed kings through their prophets" (i. 9). "If certain signs indicate the approach of troublous times or a crisis for men, the Jews have the greatest cause for anxiety, since they generally suffer most under them" (ii. 6). Noteworthy in the Tosefta are the descriptions of the miraculous well which traveled with the Israelites in the desert (iii. 11), and of the splendid synagogue (basilica) in Alexandria (iv. 6), and the story of Miriam bat Bilga (the daughter of a priest), who became a pagan and married a general of the Greek kings. When the pagans entered the Temple, Miriam stepped to the altar and cried: "Lykos! Lykos! [= "Wolf! Wolf!"], you have devoured Israel's possessions, and you have not helped them in time of need" (iv. 28).The Gemaras.
Both Gemaras contain, aside from explanations of the various laws of the Mishnah, numerous stories and many interesting sentences. The following may be quoted from the Babylonian Gemara: "The practise of philanthropy is better than many sacrifices" (49b). "Israel could not justify itself for its sins, if the sentences in Jer. xviii. 6 and Ezek. xxxvi. 26, which in a certain sense deny the freedom of the will, had not in a way relieved it from responsibility for its acts" (52b). Noteworthy in the Palestinian Gemara is the story of the cause of Trajan's persecution of the Jews. A son was born to him on the Jewish fast of the Ninth of Ab, and his daughter died on Ḥanukkah, on which feast the Jews lighted candles. Hence, the Jews being suspected of having mourned over the birth of the prince and of having rejoiced over the death of the princess, Trajan persecuted them (55b). There is also a curious account of the enlargement of the well of Siloah, in the hope that the flow of water would increase. After the well was enlarged, however, the water flowed less freely; and it was only after the aperture had been restored to its original size that the flow became as formerly (55d).