Sukkot Customs

Tzedaka It is customary to give extra charity on Sukkot Eve (9/23).

Lulav Binding The Lulav is bound to its Aravot (willows) and Hadasim (myrtle branches) before the onset of the holiday. The Chabad custom is to bind the Lulav on Sukkot Eve in the Sukkah.

Italian Etrog For both Halachic and mystical reasons, it is the Chabad custom to use an Etrog grown in Calabria, Italy.

Honey The Challah is dipped in honey at all the Sukkot meals.

Joy There is a specific commandment to be joyous on Sukkot. Extra efforts are taken to participate in activities that bring joy to all family members. Torah law encourages parents to purchase gifts for their children and husbands to present their wives with jewelry. In this spirit, one makes an extra effort to drink wine on each day of the holiday including the intermediate days.

The Sukkah Experience 

  • One should eat all meals in the Sukkah. One is obligated to eat bread and cake in the Sukkah, and the blessing Leishev BeSukkah is recited. Ideally, one should eat and drink exclusively in the Sukkah.
  • If possible, it is preferable to light Yom Tov and Shabbat candles in the Sukkah.
  • There is an additional obligation to eat in the Sukkah on the first night of the holiday, Sunday, September 23. If it rains, one should wait until it stops and then enter the Sukkah for Kiddush.
  • It is a widespread custom to eat in the Sukkah even when it is raining. The blessing of Leishev BeSukkah is still recited.

Lulav and Etrog

  •  In the spirit of Zerizim Makdimin LeMitzvot (the assiduous rush to fulfill Mitzvot), most people shake Lulav before beginning the morning service. However, one should be careful that the Mitzvah is performed after sunrise, on 9/24 after 6:45 AM through 9/30 after 6:51 AM.  
  •  A right-handed person holds the Lulav in the right hand and the Etrog in the left hand.  
  •  A left-handed person holds the Lulav in his left hand and the Etrog in the right hand.  
  •  When shaking the Lulav, one faces east. After reciting the blessing, wave or gently shake the Four Kinds in all six directions. It is important to shake the Lulav in a gentle fashion to ensure that the middle leaf of the Lulav remains intact. A split middle leaf may invalidate a Lulav.  
  •  Men and women recite the blessing and shake Lulav each day of Sukkot aside for Shabbat.   

  Preparations for the Second Day of Yom Tov

  • Preparations for the second day of Yom Tov, Monday evening, September 24, should not be done until after nightfall, 7:30 PM. Preparations include cooking, setting the table and lighting candles (from a pre-existing flame). 

Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot

  • For Shabbat, Friday evening, September 28, Shalom Aleichem and Eishet Chayil are sung before Kiddush as on every Friday night, but they are sung more quietly than usual.
  • The Lulav and Etrog are not used on Shabbat.