It's Sukkot the festival following Yom Kippur. You can find the commandment to observe the festival in Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:12. "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, there shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall do no laborious work; you shall celebrate a festival to G-d for a seven-day period."
You'll also find the commandment in Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:33.
Central to the celebration is the building of a sukkah or a temporary dwelling where we "dwell" for the days of the celebration. The sukkah comes in all forms...but basic is the requirement that the roof should be of natural plant material and that you can see a bit of sky. In other words they are not water-tight...they meant to be temporary. What is the significance? There are several:
- The Harvest - We get to live in Iowa where the harvest is in full swing. Sukkot is also a "harvest festival". Our people built booths near the fields so they might be able to carry on the harvest quickly.
- Our Life- Our lives are...temporary. The sukkah reminds us that nothing is perminant and we should live our lives to the fullest each day. In addition while a wind may blow it down, just like in life, setbacks come, but we re-build each time.
- The Experience- Many holidays in the Jewish Calendar deal with removing ourselves from our "normal" surroundings and having the experience of something "different". Clearly "dwelling in the sukkah" for a week is...different and memorable.
Temple Times & Offerings for Gentiles
One of the more interesting, and perhaps unknown to many, commandments in the Torah was the sacrifice of "seventy young bulls" which was designed to protect the gentile nations from affliction. How do we know this? The number 70 corresponds to the number of primary nations enumerated in Bereishet (Genesis) Chapter 10. Bet you didn't know...
We are commanded to take up the "four species" Vayikra (Leviticus) 23: 40, "You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a citron tree, the branches of date palms, twigs of a plaited tree, and brook willows; and you shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d, for a seven-day period." We are told that these four species, when used together help us remember some basic principals. The etrog (citron) resembles the heart; the lulav (palm branch), the spine; the hadasim (myrtle leaves), the eyes; and the aravos, (willow branches), the lips. When all are connected in following the mitzvot we are living a proper life. When our heart, spine, eyes and lips live to honor G-d. It's a good thing.
Finally, Sukkot is a holiday with lots and lots of joy! Celebrations and feeling good about life. For a great video about the holiday and Israel here's a link. Enjoy.