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Peninei Halakha > Sukkot > 03 – Dwelling in the Sukka > 12. Children, Grooms, and Mourners

12. Children, Grooms, and Mourners

A child who has reached the age of ḥinukh (education) is obligated in sukka. Therefore, adults are admonished not to feed him a se’udat keva or put him to bed outside the sukka. The age of ḥinukh is the age at which a child understands the general parameters of the mitzva, i.e., the obligation to eat and sleep in the sukka. Most children reach this stage around the age of five or six (SA 640:2). However, sometimes young children are mitzta’arim when it comes to sleeping in the sukka, because they are more sensitive to the cold or because they are afraid. In such cases, they are considered mitzta’er and are exempt. Additionally, if the adults are sitting and studying Torah or chatting in the sukka, making it difficult for the child to fall asleep there, he may be put to bed in the house and later moved to the sukka.

It is forbidden to hold a wedding on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, because we do not mix together two joyous occasions (Mo’ed Katan 8a). However, those who marry before Sukkot continue the week of Sheva Berakhot into the festival. The Sages tell us that a groom is exempt from sleeping in the sukka, because it lacks the privacy of a home, and the bride and groom will feel inhibited there. The Sages also tell us that the groom’s entourage and all those who came to celebrate with him are exempt from eating in the sukka, because sukkot were usually small and could not accommodate all the celebrant. Therefore, Sheva Berakhot meals were held outside the sukka (Sukka 25b; SA 640:6). However, other se’udot mitzva, including a brit, pidyon ha-ben, bar mitzva, and siyum, must be held in the sukka, because these meals are not important enough to override the mitzva of sitting in the sukka (Vilna Gaon; BHL 640:6). Nowadays, we have Sheva Berakhot in the sukka as well, even though this limits the number of participants.

A mourner is obligated in the mitzva of sukka. Even if he would prefer to sit alone in his grief, he must marshal his resources and keep the mitzvot of the festival (Sukka 25a; SA 640:5). In fact, there is no mourning on Sukkot; if someone began sitting shiva before the festival, the arrival of the festival cancels the remainder of shiva, and if someone loses a close relative on Sukkot, he does not sit shiva on the festival. Rather, after the funeral, he continues sitting in the sukka, and the shiva begins only after the festival.

An onen, one whose close relative died but has not yet been buried, is exempt from the mitzva of sukka, as he is preoccupied with the mitzva of burying the dead, and therefore exempt from engaging in other mitzvot (MB 640:31; SHT ad loc. 48).

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Editor: Nechama Unterman