The Ushpizin (Sukkot Guests)

Celebrated for seven days in the Jewish month of Tishrei (late September to late October), Sukkot is mainly a festival of merriment but not without a generous dose of religious observances to be performed. A popular tradition associated to the Sukkot festival is the "Ushpizin". What exactly is the "Ushpizin"? To know all about this legendary tradition, scroll down and read our well-researched article on "Ushpizin". If you like reading about "Ushpizin" and want to share this article with your dear ones, please click here and do the same. Have a grand Sukkot celebration.
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"Ushpizin" is an Aramaic word. Roughly translated the word stands for "guests", but fails to convey the supernatural significance that it has for Jews.

Unlike Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a joyful festive time that sees feasts and get-togethers. The occassion sees the buliding of temporary hut-like structures called "Sukkah" where Jews reside for the seven festive days and even invite their friends as guests to live with them. Even non-Jewish people are welcome inside a sukkah. But human visitors apart, divine beings are also supposed to be the Sukkot guests of every Jew.

According to a Jewish belief, on each of the seven days of Sukkot a supernatural visitor comes to the sukkah of every Jew. These seven special guests, or "Ushpizin", are he seven "founding fathers" of the Jewish people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. As each "Ushpizin" visits a sukkah, he endows its inhabitants with a "sefirot" or "divine quality" that he embodies. Every day of Sukkot is dedicated to one of the "Ushpizin"s and the particular spiritual quality attributed to him. Thus the first day is dominated by Abraham (personifying Benevolence or Love), the second day by Isaac (personifying Restraint and Discipline), the third day by Jacob (personifying Beauty, Harmony and Truth), the fourth day by Moses (personifying Victory and Endurance), the fifth day by Aaron (personifying Magnificence and Humility), the sixth day by Joseph (personifying Initiation and Association) and the seventh day by David (personifying Sovereignty, Receptivity and Leadership).

These great souls are often referred to as the "Shepherds of Israel", and one of the reasons they are called so is due to the belief that they guide mankind and nuture the human spirit just as shepherds lead and nurture their flock. It is believed that on each day of Sukkot, one of the seven guests leads the other six into every individual sukkah. Thus on each day of Sukkot, a different "Ushpizin" enters a sukkah followed by the other six.

However, the Chabad tradition differs with the general view and believes seven other "Ushpizin" to be the actual Sukkot visitors. They are Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi DovBer, Alter Rebbe, Mitteler Rebbe (Rabbi DovBer), Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem Mendel), Rebbe Maharash (Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn) and Dovid HaMelech - Rebbe Rashab (Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn). Recently, many Jews have even gone on to believe that every sukkah is visited by seven women or "ushpizot", seven prophetesses known as Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Huldah, Abigail, and Esther.

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