Peninei Halakha

14. Outings

Families who want to go on an outing need to plan ahead so that they can eat their meals in a sukka. If they decide to go somewhere without a sukka, they should make sure not to eat se’udot keva during the trip. Rather, they should make do with fruits, vegetables, and a little bit of mezonot (above, section 5). Some disagree and maintain that when traveling, one may eat even se’udot keva outside of a sukka. Just as during the year, one who is traveling is not meticulous about eating in a house under a roof, so too on Sukkot, a traveler need not take care to eat in a sukka. Nevertheless, it seems that being lenient in this case is not appropriate. Only someone who is compelled to travel is exempt from sukka. But someone who decides to go on a pleasure trip is making a conscious decision to neglect the mitzva for no compelling reason, so he may go on a trip only if he takes care to eat all se’udot keva in a sukka.[17]

As a rule, one should make sure not to waste Ḥol Ha-mo’ed on outings, as these holy days are meant for Torah study and festive meals. As I have written elsewhere, half the day should be dedicated to God, i.e., spent on study and prayer (Peninei Halakha: Mo’adim 10:6). The reason that melakha is forbidden on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is to enable Torah study (y. Mo’ed Katan 2:3). When one devotes the holidays to his own pleasures, God says to him, “These are not My festivals, but rather yours.” About such people it says, “Your new moons and fixed seasons fill Me with loathing; they have become a burden to Me; I cannot endure them” (Yeshayahu 1:14). However, those who dedicate Ḥol Ha-mo’ed to Torah, prayer, and festive meals are beloved of God (Shelah, Sukka, Ner Mitzva 31).

Some trips have a mitzva element. One example is visiting one’s rabbi whom he does not see on a monthly basis. Another example is visiting Jerusalem in order to enjoy its courtyards, come close to the Temple Mount, and pray at the Western Wall; this is a quasi-fulfillment of the mitzva to make a pilgrimage to the Temple (Peninei Halakha: Mo’adim 1:16-17; 10:6). When people are on these types of trips and it is difficult for them to find a sukka, they may eat se’udot keva without one.

[17]. “Our Rabbis taught: Travelers by day are exempt from sukka by day and obligated by night; travelers by night are exempt from sukka by night and obligated by day. Travelers by both day and night are exempt from sukka by both day and night” (Sukka 26a). Some maintain that those on an outing or pleasure trip have the same status as any travelers who are exempt from sukka, because one must treat his sukka as he treats his home; just as all year round, when one goes on a nature hike, he does not take care to eat at home, so too if one goes hiking on Sukkot, he is exempt from eating in a sukka. This is the opinion of R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (He’arot Be-Masekhet Sukka, 26a), R. Dov Lior (as quoted in R. Moshe Harari’s Mikra’ei Kodesh: Hilkhot Sukkot, p. 587), and R. Shlomo Aviner (Responsa She’elat Shlomo 2:98). In contrast, according to many, when the Sages exempted travelers from sukka based on the principle of “‘teshvu’ – ke’ein taduru,” they were referring to a situation where one was compelled to travel for his livelihood or another important necessity. In that case, he may behave as he does all year, when travelers eat outside the home. However, when it is not necessary to travel, this is precisely the situation about which the Torah commands us to dwell in the sukka and not go elsewhere to exempt oneself from the mitzva. Thus, if one decides to travel for pleasure on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, he must make sure a sukka is available. (We saw something similar at the end of section 13: If one decides to have a medical procedure on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed when it could have been safely delayed, Rema rules he must sit in a sukka even if he is in pain.) This is the opinion of R. Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe OḤ 3:91), R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halikhot Shlomo 9:21), R. Ovadia Yosef (Yeḥaveh Da’at 3:47), and R. Yaakov Ariel (Be-ohalah shel Torah 2:93). Additionally, those who travel on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed are not living the way they live normally; most people can travel only occasionally or during vacation, so they take advantage of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed to travel. But the days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed are not simply vacation days. They are sacred days that are meant to be devoted to enjoying the festival through festive meals and Torah study. Therefore, those who decide to travel must at the very least make sure to eat in a sukka. If they planned the trip properly, and because of some mishap out of their control they ended up somewhere without a sukka and are hungry, it would seem that they may eat. After all, during the year if someone hungry gets stuck somewhere away from home, he eats there.

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