Martin Bodek, Co-founder of TheKnish.com, explains the Jewish holiday of Succos in just 839 words, while standing on one leg.
Succos – This means, “Eight day zoning violation” and celebrates the time the Jews broke the Guinness record for wandering the longest before finally asking for directions. The Jews built sukkahs for shelter when they left Egypt in middle of the summer. Therefore, we logically commemorate the event by scheduling the holiday for the beginning of winter.
In Israel, Succos lasts for 7 days, but everywhere else it lasts for 8. This is because outside of Israel, scientists have cloned humans, viewed galaxies that are billions of light years away, played with remote control cars on Mars, but have not been able to determine when exactly the new moon begins.
Preparation for Succos begins approximately 30 days before the Holiday with the building of the sukkah, which is fashioned from one of the Arba’ah Minim, which are: canvas (with new chumra-of-the-week velcro straps), wood, plexiglass and Coca-Cola crates.
Schach – This means, “Non-jews couldn’t pronounce this if they tried.” According to Jewish Law, schach must be borne of the earth, but no longer connected and must not be able to attract impurity. Apparently the only acceptable vegetation that qualifies causes Jews to contribute to the inevitable extinction of the panda.
Preparation continues with the purchase of the esrog and its peripheral attachments.
Esrog – This means, “Looks like a lemon, tastes like a lemon, smells like a lemon, feels like a lemon, sounds like a lemon, but costs about as much as Yeshiva tuition.”
The esrog must be yellow, according to unanimous rabbinic sources. Therefore, green esrogim are perfectly acceptable.
The esrog must also be spotless and flawless. Many religious Jews are so particular over this that some have brought microscopes with them when they go shopping.
Lulav – This means, “whoa, hey, careful where you point that thing” and is required to be tall, dark and handsome and connected at the top with minimal decay. But everyone knows all that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it makes a cool sound when you shake it.
The lulav requires an extra layer of vigilance for Jews, as the rest of the year is spent dodging slashing tallis fringes, while Succos adds an element of the possibility of losing your eyeball. Most Jews get glasses for Succos as protection. Glasses-for-Succos gemachs have recently been established. Call 1-800-OWM-YEYE.
Arovos – This means, “the most expensive vegetation you can buy that will die tomorrow”. Two of these are coupled with the lulav and cost about as much as a Hummer’s chassis. Flowers we get for our wives for Shabbos sometimes last till Tuesday, but arovos are set on auto-rot and will become a laughingstock by the time chol hamoed comes around.
Hadasim – This means, “The strange twigs that grow inside long rectangular plastic bags and last for eternity.”
The above, when purchased together, cost about as much as a nuclear submarine. However, if purchased on 13th avenue in Boro Park 10 minutes before d’zman (as any responsible shopper would, and 97% of Jews do), the total cost is approximately the value of two oregano flakes.
The first night of Yom Tov is spent waiting for the Biblical plague weather to stop.
The first day of Yom Tov is spent trying to figure out which paragraphs to say during mussaf.
The second night of Yom Tov is spent trying to figure out why there’s a second night, per the second paragraph of this article.
The second day of Yom Tov is spent in complete mussaf confusion and in envy of your Israeli brothers for whom it’s chol hamoed already.
Chol Hamoed – This means, “Zeeskeit, you take the kids, I’d rather use my vacation days for something else” and is celebrated by a four-day mass invasion of every place of amusement within driving distance of a public sukkah.
Hoshana Rabba – This Means, “Oh man, I’m totally out of vacation days” and is a Yom Tov technically, but you can still do malachos. However, since davening lasts for about 8 hours, there’s no time left to do any malachos before Yom Tov. Hence, it might as well be a Yom Tov and put an end to all the confusion.
Shmini Atzeres – This means, “The eighth day of our seven day Yom Tov” and further adds to the mathematical and logistical curiousities and confusions of Succos.
Simchas Torah – This means, “Sanctioned drunkenness in addition to Purim and April 16th (because we’re all accountants)” and celebrates our Torah.
Festivities begin when the Lubavitchers arrive from their long walk from Crown Heights. The length of each hakofo depends on the energy level of the crowd, which is highest in Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s shul, where the first hakofo ends on approximately the first night of Chanukah.
Succos ends as all Yomim Tovim end: more complete confusion as to what to leave in and what to omit from Havdoloh. Also, your mom or wife attempts to turn the esrog into jelly, which no one in his or her right mind would dare to eat.