b'WESTERN MARBLE ARCH SYNAGOGUEINTRODUCTIONRABBI LORD SACKSI t was a sight that, once seen, was never forgotten. Jerusalemwasthrongedwithpilgrimsfromall over the country. For days there had been a noise and energy about the streets and arcades that you never felt at other times of the year. People busily constructing their succot in courtyards and on their roofs, and bringing foliage for the covering through whichtheywouldseethestarsandwhich,somesaid,were reminders of the clouds of glory that accompanied their ancestors on their epic trek through the desert. The courtyard of the Temple was more crowded than at any other time of the year. You could feel the anticipation, the barely suppressed exuberance. It was an emotion woven of many strands. The Days of Awe, with their intense solemnity, were over. The great shofar had sounded, heralding the New Year. The High Priest had atoned for the people. The slate had been wiped clean. Now, less than a week later, there was a palpable feeling of release and a new beginning.Thentherewasthemoodofthanksgiving.Theharvesthadbeen gathered. The fields and groves and vineyards had yielded their produce. It was a time to thank God for His many blessings: the land, the earth, the sun, the rain, the fields and yields, the freedom. In Israel you could never take rain for granted. When it came it felt like a blessing from heaven. There were aspects of the Temple service on Succot that happened at no other time of the year. Every morning at dawn, in a special ceremony, Priests would leave the Temple courtyard and walk south to draw water which was then placed into a golden bowl. As they entered the Temple, shofar blasts were sounded. At night on the intermediate days of the festival, a celebration took place in the Temple courtyard known as Simchat Beit HaShoeva, Rejoicing in the House of the Water-Drawing. So euphoric was the mood on those nights that the Sages said, One who did not see the Rejoicing in the House of the Water-Drawing never saw celebration in their days (Succah 5:1).The mood was like a wedding. Some played the flute, others harps, lutes and cymbals. People sang, danced and clapped. The leading religious figures in the land, Sages, heads of yeshivot, members of 2'