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    Sukkot hospitality

    ushpizinEach night of Sukkot we symbolically invite an ancient ancestor to sit in the sukkah with us.

    The Aramaic phrase for the guests is Ushpizin, deriving from the same root as the word “hospitality”.

    There is a Talmudic discussion (Sukkah 27b) about the status of a sukkah guest. Is it my sukkah in which the guest is sitting, or is he or she regarded as a partner so that in some sense it is his or her sukkah at that moment?

    Rabbi Eliezer says, “Just as a person does not fulfil his obligation on the first day of the festival by using someone else’s lulav and etrog but must have his own (Lev. 23:40), so too one must have a sukkah of his own”.

    The sages disagree and say that a sukkah belongs to all Jews and therefore whoever eats in my sukkah is regarded as being in his own sukkah, though a stolen sukkah is not permissible.

    The moral is that not only should one look for a Biblical ancestor but any guest who sits and eats in your sukkah is regarded as at home there, and so if you give hospitality during the festival you are giving added joy to both yourself and the other person.

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