04. Eating in the Sukka

As we have learned, it is a mitzva to reside in the sukka as one resides at home, and since proper meals (se’udot keva) are usually done at home, such meals must be eaten in the sukka. However, people sometimes eat light meals and snacks (akhilat ara’i) when not at home. Therefore, one may eat an akhilat ara’i outside the sukka. Those who are meticulous make sure to eat even an akhilat ara’i in the sukka; they also do not drink anything, even water, outside the sukka. However, this is not obligatory, and even Torah scholars may eat akhilat ara’i outside the sukka (m. Sukka 26b; Ran ad loc.; BHL 639:2 s.v. “aval”).

As a rule, se’udat (or akhilat) keva refers to a significant meal that one eats to become satiated. Akhilat ara’i refers to eating to enjoy the taste or to stave off hunger, but not really to become satiated.

Since grain is the staple food of humanity, from which bread, pastries, and filling dishes like pasta and porridge are made, one who eats more than a keveitza of grain-based food is considered to be eating se’udat keva and must eat in the sukka. Even if this quantity does not fill him up entirely, since we normally satiate ourselves with grains, and since a quantity greater than a keveitza is somewhat satisfying, this is defined as se’udat keva. However, a keveitza or less is considered akhilat ara’i, which may be eaten outside of the sukka.[4]

Since it is not normal to fill oneself up with fruit, water, and juice, one may eat and drink them outside the sukka without limit.

One may eat small amounts of meat, fish, or cheese outside the sukka, but if one intends to eat them in an amount that constitutes a regular, filling meal, he must eat in the sukka (MB ad loc. 15).[5]

The poskim disagree about wine and strong drink. Some say that since they are not filling, they need not be drunk in the sukka (Rosh; Rema). Others maintain that because of the significance of wine, one who drinks a revi’it thereof must do so in the sukka (Ritva). Some are stringent and extend this to all strong drink, saying that if people are getting together to drink, they must do so in the sukka (Or Zar’ua; MA). Le-khatḥila, it is correct to follow this practice (MB 639:3 and BHL s.v. “ve-yayin”).

It is important to note that during a meal, all components of the meal are part of the akhilat keva that must be eaten in the sukka, so one must make sure not to eat anything outside the sukka. Thus, one who leaves the sukka during the meal in order to bring something into the sukka must not eat or drink anything in the home, nor even swallow in the home what he began eating in the sukka (Binyan Shlomo 1:41; Sho’el U-meshiv 4:3:11; R. Zvi Pesaḥ Frank, Mikra’ei Kodesh 1:31).


[4]. The Gemara (Sukka 26a) states that eating bread as a snack is permitted outside the sukka. Abaye illustrates: a student grabbing something to eat as he rushes out to the beit midrash. The reason for this exemption is that all year long one would eat an akhila ara’i outside the home (Ran and Ritva). Rashi explains that akhilat ara’i is any quantity up to a mouthful, which is a keveitza. Thus, more than a keveitza is considered a proper meal. This is the view of Tosafot, Rosh, and Ran as well. In contrast, Rambam and R. Yitzḥak ibn Gi’at maintain that even a bit more than a keveitza can be considered akhila ara’i and eaten outside the sukka; only an amount significantly larger than a keveitza requires a sukka. SA 639:2 rules that a bit more than a keveitza must be eaten in a sukka.

Presumably, the same applies to pastries and other grain-based baked goods on which one recites the berakha of mezonot. True, there is a disagreement as to whether to recite Leishev before eating a keveitza of such foods, but all agree that they must be eaten in the sukka (Ḥida; Kaf Ha-ḥayim 639:33). As for grain-based dishes, Rosh, Tur, and SA 639:2 maintain that these must be eaten in the sukka only if eaten in significant quantity, i.e., what one would eat for a meal, or if they are being eaten with a group. In contrast, according to Magen Avraham and Shulḥan Arukh Ha-Rav, if one is eating more than a keveitza, it must be eaten in the sukka. Yeḥaveh Da’at 1:65 states this as well, and this is what I write above. However, in times of need, one may be lenient about grain-based dishes and eat even more than a keveitza outside the sukka, as long as he is not making a meal out of them.

[5]. According to Maharam of Rothenburg and Ramban, one who eats fruit as an akhilat keva must eat in a sukka. According to Rabbeinu Peretz, Me’iri, Or Zaru’a, and, by implication, Rambam (MT, Laws of Shofar, Sukka, and Lulav 6:6), he is exempt, but one who eats meat or cheese or the like as an akhilat keva must eat in a sukka. According to Rosh, Tur, and SA 639:2, only grain constitutes a se’udat keva, so one who eats them must eat in a sukka, but those eating meat or cheese, even in quantities that would constitute akhilat keva, are exempt from eating in the sukka. It is possible that there is no disagreement; rather, each discussed what is considered akhilat keva in his milieu. In practice, some say that one who eats a proper meal of meat and the like must eat in the sukka (Ginat Veradim, Ḥida, and Derekh Ha-ḥayim). Others maintain that le-khatḥila one should be stringent (Baḥ; Eliya Rabba; Bikurei Yaakov; MB 639:15; Kaf Ha-ḥayim ad loc. 15). Still others are lenient le-khatḥila (SAH; Yeḥaveh Da’at 1:65). It seems to me that nowadays, all would agree that someone whose main meal consists of meat or cheese must eat in a sukka, as the reason poskim were lenient was because these did not serve as a se’udat keva (AHS 639:9). However, nowadays, many regularly eat entire meals without bread, satiating themselves with vegetables, meat, rice, and the like, so everyone views this as akhilat keva, so it must be eaten in the sukka. The law pertaining to reciting the berakha of Leishev will be explained in the next section.

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Translated By:
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Editor: Nechama Unterman