03 – Dwelling in the Sukka

01. General Parameters

The mitzva is for one to reside in his sukka during the seven days of the festival in the manner that he normally resides in his home, as we read, “You shall dwell in sukkot seven days” (Vayikra 23:42). In Sukka 28b, the Sages expound: “‘You shall dwell (teshvu)’ – akin to how you reside (taduru).” Thus, one should have his bed, linens, and utensils in the sukka. But what is not normally done in the home need not be done in the sukka (SA 639:1-2).

There are four parts of the mitzva do dwell in the sukka: a) things that must be done in the sukka; b) things it is a mitzva to do in the sukka; c) things there is no mitzva to do in the sukka; d) things it is forbidden to do in the sukka.

  • Things that must be done in the sukka: Anything one generally does at home, he must do in the sukka. Thus, one must eat all proper meals (se’udot keva) and sleep in the sukka, as a home’s primary function is as a place to eat and
  • Things it is a mitzva to do in the sukka: It is a mitzva to engage in activities that one sometimes does at home and sometimes elsewhere, like studying Torah, reading books, and chatting with friends, in the sukka, but doing them outside the sukka is not sinful. Nevertheless, since doing them is a mitzva, one should try to do them in the sukka. One who leaves the sukka without a good reason and does these things at home shows contempt for the mitzva.

This category also includes impromptu eating (akhilat ara’i). Technically, there is no obligation to eat fixed meals on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, so it is possible for one to eat only snacks and irregular meals outside the sukka throughout Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. But if he can eat in the sukka without difficulty, then eating at home shows contempt for the mitzva. If it is difficult for him to eat in the sukka (for example, because it is a little cold), snacking at home does not show contempt for the mitzva. Nevertheless, since eating in the sukka fulfills a mitzva, it is proper to be fastidious and eat there. Some even say that there is a mitzva to eat two se’udot keva with bread in the sukka each day.[1]

  • Things there is no mitzva to do in the sukka: Activities that are always done outside the home, like praying with a minyan and attending Torah classes, need not be moved to the sukka and may be done le-khatḥila in the synagogue or beit midrash.
  • Things it is forbidden to do in the sukka: Demeaning things, like changing a baby’s diaper, may not be done in the sukka. (See note 2 below.)

Women are not obligated in the mitzva of sukka, because it is a time-bound positive commandment. Nevertheless, women fulfill a mitzva by dwelling in the sukka, and the custom of Ashkenazic women and some Sephardic women is to recite the berakha of Leishev Ba-sukka if they eat in the sukka. The custom of most Sephardic women is not to recite the berakha since they have no obligation (SA 589:6; Peninei Halakha: Women’s Prayer 2:8 n. 9).

[1]. In the mishna in Sukka 27a, the Sages maintain that the mitzva of sukka requires one to reside in his sukka in the manner he resides at home. Since people sometimes eat akhilat ara’i outside the home, if one wishes, he can always eat akhilat ara’i outside the sukka. The halakha follows this view (SA 639:3). Nevertheless, one who eats akhilat ara’i in the sukka fulfills a mitzva, as is evident from the fact that we recite a berakha on it. (See section 5 below.) Some suggest (MB 639:24) that although there is no obligation to eat two meals with bread each day, there is nevertheless a mitzva to try two eat two meal each day, with bread, in the Sukka. This is similar to the opinion of Rosh, the Vilna Gaon, and other poskim with regard to eating matza throughout Pesaḥ (Peninei Halakha: Pesaḥ 12:1). See Harḥavot.

02. Treating the Sukka Respectfully

All seven days of the festival, one must make the sukka his permanent residence, and the home temporary, as it is written: “You shall dwell in sukkot seven days” (Vayikra 23:42). Therefore, one must bring his good table and chairs into the sukka, and a good bed and sheets, so that he can reside in the sukka as he resides at home all year round. That is, it is not enough to eat and sleep in the sukka; the sukka must be his primary residence. The house should serve only as the kitchen and storage area, helping to meet sukka needs (Sukka 28b).

The Sages tell us that regular Torah study should take place in the sukka. However, if one is studying particularly difficult material, it is preferable for him to do that at home or in the beit midrash, because it is easier to concentrate there (Sukka 28b; SA 639:4). If one finds it difficult to concentrate in the sukka due to heat or noise, even ordinary study material may be taken inside, as Torah study is not something normally limited to the home. Similarly, if one who is learning Torah needs many different books and it would be difficult to lug them to the sukka, he may study in the beit midrash or in his library even le-khatḥila.

Even though one must treat his sukka like his home, there is a difference between them. In a home one does everything necessary, whether dignified or undignified. But we show respect for the sukka by not doing demeaning things there. The sukka must be treated like the nicest and most respectable room in the home. Thus, one may not leave workaday things there, like a bucket or dishpan or anything else one would not leave in the nicest room of the house. One may not wash dishes in the sukka nor change diapers there (Sukka 28b; SA 639:1; AHS ad loc. 4).

After finishing a meal, one must clear away all the dishes as quickly as possible, because it is not respectful to leave dirty dishes sitting in the sukka. However, cups may be left, because they do not look as dirty, and someone may want to drink even after the meal is over. People who normally bring pots to the table may do so on Sukkot as well; but in places where this is considered disrespectful, they should not be brought into the sukka (Sukka 29a; SA 639:1; MB ad loc. 3-6). A garbage can may not be left in the sukka, but a paper recycling bin may be, as one would leave this even in an elegant room in the home.[2]

One should not leave dirty clothes in the sukka. However, someone sleeping in the sukka may take off his clothes and leave them on a chair in the sukka, and take off his socks and shoes there, as he would do at home.

There is no problem with speaking about mundane matters in the sukka. Therefore, if one wants to talk with his friend (in person or on the phone), he should converse in the sukka as he would at home, for whenever he is in the sukka, he fulfills a mitzva (SA 639:1). Similarly, people who want to play chess or Monopoly or other games should play in the sukka. (See Responsa Mahari Weil §191; Darkhei Moshe 639:1.) Some are careful not to engage in mundane matters in the sukka (Shlah; Kaf Ha-ḥayim 639:5-6; see MB ad loc. 2). However, if this leads one to spend less time in the sukka, it is not an enhancement of the mitzva; one who wants to engage in mundane matters should do so in the sukka and thus fulfill a mitzva.

[2]. According to Rabbeinu Mano’aḥ, Raavad, and Rabbeinu Yehonatan, if there are dirty dishes in a sukka it is rabbinically invalid. Thus, one who eats in it may not recite the berakha of Leishev. However, most poskim maintain that even if one demeans the sukka, it remains kosher and the berakha may be recited there (Rabbeinu Tam; Ha-ma’or; Ramban; Ran; Baḥ; MA; Pri Megadim; and others). Nevertheless, le-khatḥila one should show concern for the stringent position (Ḥayei Adam; MB 639:6; SHT ad loc. 13).

03. The Obligation to Eat in the Sukka on the First Night

There is an important difference between the first night of Sukkot and the rest of the festival. During most of the festival, if one wants to eat a se’udat keva, he must eat it in the sukka, but one who wants to eat an akhilat ara’i may do so outside of the sukka. However, on the first night of Sukkot, there is an obligation to eat bread in the sukka. This obligation is based on a gezera shava from the identical language used by the Torah to describe the first night of Sukkot and Pesaḥ, from which the Sages derive that just as there is an obligation to eat matza on the first night of Pesaḥ, so too there is an obligation to eat bread in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot (Sukka 27a; SA 639:3). This also teaches us the importance of the first night of Sukkot, which lays the foundation for the entire festival.

To ensure that people fulfill the mitzva with appetite, one must avoid filling foods for the three hours before shki’at ha-ḥama on the eve of the festival (MB 639:27).

The obligation can be fulfilled from tzeit ha-kokhavim onward. Since this mitzva is derived from the mitzva of eating matza on the first night of Pesaḥ, one should eat the bread before midnight. Be-di’avad, one who did not manage to eat by midnight may do so until dawn (MB ad loc. 25-26; Peninei Halakha: Pesaḥ 16:31).

Before beginning to eat bread on the first night, one should have intent that this eating is to fulfill God’s commandment to us to eat in the sukka as a commemoration of the Exodus and of the clouds of glory with which He sheltered us in the wilderness. Le-khatḥila one should have this intention throughout the festival, but, be-di’avad, even on the first night one discharges his obligation as long as he knows he fulfills a mitzva by eating in the sukka (MB 625:1; see above, 1:4-5).

Just as we make sure to eat a kezayit of matza according to all opinions on the first night of Pesaḥ, so too we make certain to eat a kezayit of bread according to all opinions on the first night of Sukkot. Thus, one should eat at least half an egg’s bulk (keveitza) of bread, and some are stringent and eat more than a keveitza; this is an admirable practice. It is not necessary to squash the challah when calculating the volume of an egg; one may estimate based on the normal state of the challah. One should eat the necessary quantity of bread unhurriedly but steadily. If one stopped eating in the middle for longer than shi’ur akhilat pras (6-7 minutes), he must start again.[3]

If it rains on the first night, some say there is no mitzva to eat a kezayit of bread in the sukka, as a mitzta’er (one who experiences discomfort) is exempt from the mitzva of sukka (Rashba; Smag). Others say that on the first night, even a mitzta’er must eat a kezayit of bread in the sukka (Rosh; Ran). In practice, it is proper to wait an hour or two in hopes that the rain will let up and it will be possible to fulfill the mitzva according to all. If the rain continues, or if the rain stopped but the water dripping from the waterlogged sekhakh makes it unpleasant to sit in the sukka, one should recite kiddush and She-heḥeyanu (on the festival itself) in the sukka and eat a kezayit of bread to fulfill the mitzva according to those who maintain that a mitzta’er is obligated to eat in the sukka on the first night. However, one should not recite the berakha of Leishev, since some maintain that even on the first night, a mitzta’er has no mitzva to eat in the sukka (Rema 629:5; MB ad loc. 35). If the rain stopped before midnight, and one would still get some enjoyment from eating bread, he should go to the sukka, recite “ha-motzi” and Leishev, and eat bread, thus fulfilling the mitzva according to those who maintain that the mitzva is to eat without discomfort.

[3]. According to Sukka 27a, the obligation to eat bread in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot is derived from the obligation to eat matza on the first night of Pesaḥ, based on a gezera shava. The implication is that the minimum quantity required is a kezayit. This is found in y. Sukka 2:7 as well as in Rambam, Rosh, and other Rishonim, and is the ruling of SA 639:3. The poskim disagree as to the parameters of a kezayit. Many Ge’onim and Rishonim maintain that it is the size of a present-day olive. According to Rambam it is almost 1/3 the size of an egg, and according to Tosafot it is about half the size of an egg. Out of uncertainty, SA (OḤ 486:1) rules in accordance with Tosafot. Thus, someone who eats the volume of half an egg has fulfilled his obligation according to the vast majority of poskim.

Nevertheless, there are three reasons to be stringent and eat a bit more than a keveitza on the first night: 1) According to Ran, it is a mitzva to eat more than a keveitza of bread, because this is the quantity that obligates one to eat in the sukka. MB 639:22 states that le-khatḥila it is proper to follow this opinion. 2) According to Noda Bi-Yehuda, eggs nowadays are only half the size of the eggs in the time of the Sages, so the equivalent of eating half of a keveitza is eating the volume of an entire modern egg. Ashkenazim generally follow this position when it comes to Torah obligations. 3) Even though Sephardim do not generally give weight to the opinion of Noda Bi-Yehuda, they end up requiring a similar amount, because most Sephardim base their measurements on weight rather than volume, and it emerges that this quantity is more than an egg’s volume of bread. According to some, the reason for calculating based on weight rather than volume is that to calculate the volume of the bread properly, one would have to squash it (Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 10:5-6, and Peninei Halakha: Pesaḥ 16:23-24.) We see that le-khatḥila, there are three good reasons to eat a little more than a keveitza of bread or challah, approximately the size of a normal slice. Anyone who eats calmly but steadily will certainly be able to finish eating this amount of bread within the required amount of time (Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 10:7).

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.

05. Reciting the Berakha of Leishev Ba-sukka

The Sages ordained that before fulfilling the mitzva of dwelling in the sukka, one recites the berakha of Leishev Ba-sukka: “Blessed are You, Lord, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the sukka.” There are different customs as to when one recites this berakha.

According to many Rishonim, including Rif and Rambam, whenever one enters the sukka to spend time there, even if he intends only to sit without doing anything, he recites Leishev before sitting down, since he is fulfilling a mitzva. This is the practice of Yemenites; they recite the berakha while standing, immediately upon entering the sukka, and then sit.

All other communities follow Rabbeinu Tam’s view, namely, that the berakha is recited on eating, as it is more central. The berakha on eating then covers everything else that one does in fulfillment of the mitzva of sukka. Even though sleeping is also important, we do not make a berakha over it, since one might recite the berakha before going to sleep, and then not fall asleep. Eating, however, is in one’s control, so it is proper to recite the berakha over it. The question is: What type of eating mandates a berakha?

According to Ashkenazic custom, one who plans to eat an amount of food that makes eating in the sukka obligatory makes a Leishev. One who does not plan to eat that much while he is in the sukka should still make a Leishev even if tasting a minimal amount of food or wine. If one has no intention to eat at all, many have the custom not to recite the berakha, but some have the custom to recite the berakha even when just spending time in the sukka; this is the proper practice.

According to Sephardic custom, one recites Leishev on a significant amount of food that generally constitutes a proper meal. In this respect, there is a difference between bread and other types of mezonot. For bread, even when one will eat only a bit more than a keveitza, he recites Leishev. On other mezonot, be it baked goods, pasta, or porridge, only if one eats an amount that will satiate him at a regular meal – approximately the volume of 4 eggs – recites a Leishev.[6]

It would seem that nowadays, even according to Sephardic custom, one must recite the berakha if they are eating a full meal (such as soup, meat, rice, and potatoes), even if it does not include bread or mezonot. Even though in the past the ruling was not to recite Leishev on a meal without bread, nowadays, when many people eat an entire significant meal without grain, it is also considered a se’udat keva, and one must recite the berakha. Nevertheless, one who knows that his parents do not recite Leishev on this type of meal may follow their practice. In order to remove any doubt, however, it is preferable that he take care to eat bread with such meals and recite the berakha.[7]

[6]. Most Rishonim, including Behag, R. Hai Gaon, Rif, Rambam, and Rashi, maintain that any time one enters the sukka for the sake of the mitzva, even if only to sit down there, he recites the berakha. This is the Yemenite custom and the ruling of the Vilna Gaon in practice. In contrast, Rabbeinu Tam, Itur, R. Yehudai Gaon, and other Ge’onim maintain that one recites Leishev only if he eats. This is the widespread custom (SA 639:8 and MB). The Aḥaronim disagree as to what the berakha hinges on. Some say that one recites a Leishev over any food that must be eaten in the sukka (Ginat Veradim). This is the Ashkenazic custom (MB 639:16 and 46). Sephardic custom is to recite the berakha only over a se’udat keva, as will be explained in the next note.

According to Taz, Ḥayei Adam, MB 639:48, and Ḥazon Ish, the practice of reciting Leishev before eating applies when one plans to eat. However, if one enters a sukka and knows that he will not eat, no matter how long he stays in the sukka, should recite the berakha anyway, on spending time in the sukka. According to Ma’amar Mordekhai (8), one recites the berakha only when eating something that must be eaten in the sukka. Many Ashkenazim recite Leishev if they have any amount of mezonot, wine, or another significant food, as the primary position follows the view that the berakha is recited on spending time in the sukka, but since the custom is to recite the berakha when eating, they eat something and thus recite both berakhot. See Harḥavot 5:9-10.

[7]. See n. 5 above, where we explain that one who makes a se’udat keva of meat or cheese and side dishes must eat in a sukka. However, R. Ovadia Yosef writes that he should not recite the berakha (Yeḥaveh Da’at 1:65), as Sephardim recite the berakha only over a meal containing enough bread or mezonot to be considered a se’udat keva (Sho’el Ve-nishal 3:95 and 165; Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 136). Ben Ish Ḥai limits the recitation of Leishev to meals with bread. However, it seems to me that their views apply to previous generations, when every se’udat keva had bread, or at least mezonot. Nowadays, though, when many people have se’udot keva based on other foods, these are considered significant meals, and Leishev should be recited. To this we can add the view of most Rishonim that one recites Leishev whenever one sits in the sukka, as well as the view of those (cited in the previous note) who maintain that if one does not intend to eat, he should recite a berakha on spending time in the sukka. This is also the ruling of Responsa Devar Ḥevron OḤ 586.

06. Laws Relating to the Berakha of Leishev Ba-sukka

Since the custom is to recite the berakha of Leishev before eating, the question arises as to which berakha to recite first – the berakha on the food or Leishev? According to Ashkenazim and some Sephardim, one recites the berakha over the food first, followed by Leishev. Since it is the eating that obligates us to sit in the sukka, the berakha on the food comes before the berakha on the sukka. One need not stand when reciting the berakha. The custom of some Sephardim is first to recite the berakha of Leishev while standing, and then sit down and recite the berakha over the food. People should continue their family’s tradition.[8]

If one forgot to recite Leishev before eating, he should recite it in the middle and continue to eat. If he remembered only after he was basically finished eating, then if he can eat or drink a bit more before reciting Birkat Ha-mazon, he should recite Leishev and then eat or drink something. If he remembered after the meal was over, according to most poskim he should recite the berakha even though he does not intend to continue eating (MB 639:48); Sephardic practice is not to recite the berakha (Yeḥaveh Da’at 5:48).

As long as one remains in the sukka, the berakha he recited at the beginning of his time there covers him. Even if he eats an additional meal, he does not recite an additional Leishev. If he left temporarily – for example, to go to the bathroom, to bring something to the sukka, or to chat with friends – he does not repeat the berakha on his return, as the original berakha is still in force (MB 639:47). However, if he left for something significant – for example, to go to the synagogue or to take care of his business – when he returns, he must recite Leishev again. Even if he left for a trivial reason, if he was gone for more than an hour, he should recite the berakha again (SAH 639:13).[9]

If one began a meal in his sukka and planned to continue with the meal in his friend’s sukka, then if his intention when reciting “ha-motzi” was to cover what he would eat at his friend’s, he also exempted himself from reciting Leishev in his friend’s sukka. If he did not have this in mind, before leaving his sukka he must recite Birkat Ha-mazon, and afterward he must recite all the berakhot again in his friend’s sukka.[10]

[8]. The berakha of Leishev is the subject of a passage in the Gemara (Sukka 45b-46a). There are two parts to the discussion: 1) According to Rambam, one should stand when reciting Leishev because the mitzva is formulated as “teshvu,” which he takes to mean “sit.” Since berakhot are generally recited right before the action, one should recite the berakha while standing and immediately sit down. This is the Yemenite custom. According to Raavad and Rosh, “teshvu” means “dwell” and refers to spending time in the sukka. Therefore, one who stands in the sukka also fulfills the mitzva. Since the custom is to recite Leishev before eating, one recites it while sitting down, right before eating. 2) According to Maharam of Rothenburg, one should recite Leishev before reciting the berakha over food, because one becomes obligated to recite Leishev immediately upon entering the sukka. Nevertheless, Rosh writes that the custom is to recite the berakha on bread first, because according to the custom of reciting Leishev only when one eats, the food triggers berakha on the sukka. Taz 643:2 suggests that “ha-motzi” (or “mezonot”) should be recited first, as birkhot ha-nehenin (blessings when deriving physical benefit) take precedence over birkhot ha-mitzvot (blessings over commandments). In practice, those from Morocco, Tunisia, most Sephardic countries, and all Ashkenazic countries recite the berakha on the food before Leishev (Rema 643:2-3; Alei Hadas: Minhagei Tunis 11:3). In contrast SA 643:3 rules that the halakha follows Rambam and Maharam, that one recites Leishev first, followed by the berakha on the food. This is also the view of Ben Ish Ḥai (Ha’azinu §5); Kaf Ha-ḥayim 643:9, 16; and Yeḥaveh Da’at 5:47. Even though they write that this is the preferable way to behave, they do not negate the other custom.

[9]. According to Baḥ and Taz (639:20), if someone recites Leishev before a meal and then remains in the sukka continuously until his next se’udat keva, he recites a Leishev again, as we assume that he intended his first berakha to cover only until the next meal. However, according to Levush, Shlah, and Magen Avraham (ad loc. 17), he does not repeat the berakha, since the sukka never left his consciousness. This is also the position of SAH, Ḥayei Adam, MB (ad loc. 47), and SHT (ad loc. 86). The halakha follows this latter position, as we are lenient when it comes to uncertainty about reciting a berakha. If someone enters the sukka and needs to recite Leishev for himself, he should be asked to have in mind the person who was still there from the previous meal. Some say that if one left the sukka briefly, even though his short absence is not considered an interruption, he must recite Leishev again when he is about to start an additional se’udat keva (Ya’avetz; Bikurei Yaakov). Others say that even in this case, he does not recite the berakha again (Derekh Ha-ḥayim; SAH; and others). Since the requirement of reciting a berakha here is uncertain, we do not recite it (SHT ad loc. 86).

[10]. According to Magen Avraham and Shulḥan Arukh Ha-Rav, if one went to his friend’s sukka in the middle of a meal, he must recite Leishev again there. However, according to Taz and Levushei Serad, if he intended to go when he recited Leishev, he need not recite it again. MB 639:48 and SHT ad loc. 93-94 conclude that he should not recite the berakha. If one left his sukka after having finished his meal and having recited Birkat Ha-mazon, then presumably he did not intend for his Leishev to cover a visit to his friend’s sukka. Therefore, should he wish to eat there, he recites Leishev. See Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 3:11 regarding one who wishes to continue his meal at his friend’s home.

07. Sleeping and Dozing Off in the Sukka

Sleeping in the sukka is obligatory, whether one is going to sleep for the night (sheinat keva) or taking a nap (sheinat ara’i). In this, sleeping differs from eating; akhilat ara’i is permitted outside the sukka because people snack outside the home all year long (explained above, section 4). Sleeping is stricter because even sheinat ara’i is significant, as even a short nap can be refreshing, and people generally do not nap outside the home. Therefore, even sheinat ara’i must be in the sukka (Sukka 26a; SA 639:2).

Some people tend to doze off unintentionally while traveling or during lectures. This type of involuntary dozing off is not considered sheinat ara’i and is not prohibited outside the sukka. The difference between the cases is clear: In the case of sheinat ara’i, one puts his head down on a desk or some other support in order to sleep for a little while, and many people are careful not to sleep like this in public. In contrast, one who is dozing off actually wishes to remain awake but dozes off involuntarily and jolts awake periodically.[11]

There are additional issues when it comes to sleeping in the sukka. For a variety of reasons, some people find it hard to sleep in a sukka. The question is: At what point are they considered mitzta’arim who are exempt from sleeping in the sukka? To clarify this basic law, we must first explain the status of a mitzta’er.

[11]. If someone is dozing off during the Torah reading, Ben Ish Ḥai (Haazinu §8) states that he should be woken up. Others maintain that one is not required to wake up someone who dozed off involuntarily in the sukka, since one who is asleep is exempt from performing mitzvot (Halikhot Shlomo 9:17). Others say that the reason one should not wake him up is because he has the status of mitzta’er (Maharil Diskin; Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 201). Some maintain if the dozing off is brief (less than the amount of time it takes to walk 100 amot, which some estimate at 54 seconds), there is no prohibition involved. (See MB 639:11, which states that this is implied by R. Yitzḥak ibn Gi’at.) It would seem the primary distinction in practice is between one who intends to take a nap and puts his head down, who should be woken up since he is neglecting a Torah commandment, and one who dozes off involuntarily while sitting up; his sleep is not considered sheinat ara’i because he does not intend to sleep.

If one is traveling to perform a mitzva or to avoid a financial loss, he may lie down on a bench to sleep a little if this is his usual practice, because his travel is for a permissible purpose, the status of the sukka is the same as the status of the home all year long, and some people regularly nap while traveling. However, if one is on a trip or traveling for another non-mitzva reason, he may not sleep a sheinat ara’i outside of a sukka (as explained below, section 14), though involuntary dozing is not forbidden. See Rema 640:3 and Harḥavot.

08. The Exemption of One Who Is Sick or Mitzta’er

Sick people and their attendants are exempt from the mitzva of sukka. This exemption is not limited to the dangerously ill; even someone who is in no danger – for instance, someone who has a headache and finds sitting in the sukka difficult – is exempt. If a sick person needs help, his aide is exempt as well (Sukka 26a; SA 640:3).

Likewise, a mitzta’er (one who experiences pain or discomfort in the sukka) is exempt, because the mitzva is to reside in the sukka as one resides at home during the year. Just as one would not reside in a place that causes him pain and discomfort, so too on Sukkot, he is not obligated to dwell in the sukka if it causes him discomfort. True, a sukka is a temporary residence and therefore, by its nature, is not as comfortable as a house. This lesser comfort does not exempt someone from sukka, for this is precisely the mitzva. But when an additional factor causes staying in the sukka to entail pain and actual discomfort, one is exempt. The most common case of mitzta’er is rain.

The level of discomfort that warrants exemption from the mitzva of sukka must be significant, of the type that would lead one to move out of his home to a considerably less comfortable place nearby. For example, if one has a very minor leak in his roof, he would prefer to remain at home. Similarly, if there is a minimal amount of rain, one must remain in his sukka. If the rain persists, so the point that it would ruin his food and disturb his sleep, he would move elsewhere, despite the bother of moving, and even if his new quarters were smaller and shabbier. In such a situation, one is considered mitzta’er and is exempt from the sukka. He remains exempt as long as the sekhakh continues dripping enough to ruin his food (SA 639:5; Eshel Avraham [Buczacz] 640:4). If he is mitzta’er with respect to sleeping but not eating, he is exempt from sleeping in the sukka but obligated to eat there (MB 640:16).[12]

If one left the sukka on account of rain, started eating inside, and then the rain stopped, he need not return to the sukka. Rather, he may finish eating in the house. Similarly, if he went to sleep in the house because it was raining, and then the rain stopped, he is not required to return to the sukka. He may sleep at home until morning (SA 639:6-7).[13]

[12]. The mishna (Sukka 2:9) states: “At what point is one permitted to leave the sukka? At the point when the mikpa is ruined.” The Gemara (Sukka 29a) explains that mikpa was a dish made of groats, and Rashi explains that it easily spoils with a bit of rain. SA 639:5 rules accordingly. This level of spoilage applies to the average person, but one who is particularly delicate has a lower threshold of becoming mitztza’er. When it comes to sleeping, though, even the average person is bothered by a minimal amount of rain, so he is exempt from sleeping in the sukka even if there is not enough rain to ruin the food (Rema 639:7). Certainly, optional activities such as studying and chatting may be moved inside on account of minimal rain (Eshel Avraham [Buczacz] 639:7). The comparison to the home found above is mentioned in Rema 639:5, citing several Rishonim. Eshel Avraham (Buczacz) 640:4 defines the threshold as follows: “The threshold is such that if one has a small place near his home, even though his home is larger and more comfortable, he would move to the smaller one to avoid the discomfort. The threshold is determined by what most people would do given the situation. If the person is elderly – by what other elderly people would do.” This is cited in Halikhot Shlomo 9:18. It would seem that if the meteorologists are predicting that it will definitely rain at night, and this causes someone worry and stress, he is exempt from sleeping in the sukka. (See Harḥavot.)

[13]. The basis of this halakha is in Sukka 29a. Also see Beit Yosef and SA 639:6-7, which state that the exemption applies only until he wakes up and dawn breaks. However, if he wakes up after dawn and wants to continue sleeping, he must move to the sukka. Some rule this way in practice. But it seems more reasonable to assume that this is limited to one who regularly wakes up close to dawn. However, one who generally sleeps for another hour or two is not required to move into the sukka before the time he normally wakes up. (See Piskei Teshuvot ad loc. 16; Hilkhot Ḥag Be-ḥag ch. 17 n. 42.) This is certainly true for someone who is worried that if he moves into the sukka he will not be able to fall back asleep, in which case he would have the status of mitzta’er and need not relocate to the sukka. On the other hand, if moving to the sukka is only a minor inconvenience for someone, it would seem that even if he wakes up in the middle of the night, it is proper for him to move into the sukka to sleep. This is in line with MB ad loc. 41.

09. More on the Status of Mitzta’er

If a large number of flies or mosquitoes are in one’s sukka, he has no way of getting rid of them, and they are causing him pain or discomfort; or if there is a bad smell in the sukka; or if it is extremely hot in the afternoon, cold at night, or windy, and clothes are not enough to alleviate the discomfort – if his discomfort is severe enough that if it were to happen in his home, he would move into a significantly less comfortable place he has nearby, he is exempt from sukka. This is on condition that his leaving the sukka will alleviate his discomfort. However, if he would suffer from the mosquitoes or the bad smell even in his home, then he must remain in the sukka (SA and Rema 640:4).

In a situation where particularly sensitive people suffer discomfort, while most people do not – for example, when a wind blows some leaves from the sekhakh onto the table – the people in the majority must remain in the sukka, while those who are sensitive are exempt. However, one cannot maintain that he suffers from something that even sensitive people normally do not mind. When someone is at such an extreme, we say that his personal disposition is disregarded in light of the norm, and he must eat and sleep in the sukka (Rema 640:4; MB ad loc. 28-29).

If someone was derelict and built a particularly rickety sukka, he may not then claim during the festival that he suffers from being in it, even though it does not adequately protect him from the vagaries of the weather. Since he put up this rickety sukka, he obligated himself to live in it during Sukkot without complaint. If he nevertheless complains and claims that he is suffering, it becomes clear retroactively that he sinned and abrogated the mitzva by putting up an inadequate sukka. He must immediately make efforts to reinforce his sukka so it does not cause him discomfort. (See above, 2:14, and below, end of section 13.)

If the lights went out in the sukka on Friday night but there is light in the home, one may eat at home, since eating in the dark is a discomfort. If it would not be too much trouble to eat in a neighbor’s sukka, he should do so, but if it would be very unpleasant or difficult, then he is considered mitzta’er and exempt from sukka (Rema 640:4; MB ad loc. 22-23).

If one is exempt from sukka because of the discomfort entailed by eating there – for example when it is raining – but he nevertheless insists upon eating there while being rained on, he is not performing a mitzva. Rather, he is doing something foolish. There is even a sinful aspect to it, for one must honor the festival, and it is forbidden to cause oneself suffering on it. However, it is different if one began his meal in the house because it was raining, and then the rain stopped. While he is not required to return to the sukka, if he does so he is rewarded for it, since his sitting in the sukka does not entail discomfort (BHL 639:7 s.v. “hedyotot”).

10. Mitzta’er and Exemption from Sleeping

As we have seen, it is obligatory to sleep in the sukka, both sheinat keva and sheinat ara’i, yet many are lenient and do not sleep in the sukka. Do they have a basis for their practice? The poskim mention two primary reasons for exemption from sleeping in the sukka. One relates to mitzta’er, and one to married men.

In cold European countries, sleeping in the sukka entailed pain and discomfort because of the cold nights, and people who slept in the sukka would sometimes get sick. Therefore, poskim ruled that if one is mitzta’er vis-à-vis sleeping in the sukka because of the cold, and he has no way to keep warm properly, whether because he does not have enough blankets or because he is mitzta’er even with the blankets, he is exempt from sleeping in the sukka. In Eretz Yisrael it is not that cold, but nowadays there are more spoiled and sensitive people who catch colds easily on chilly nights in the sukka even when they sleep with a heavy blanket. They, too, are deemed mitzta’arim and exempt. However, on nights that they know they will not catch a cold, or when napping in the afternoon, they must sleep in the sukka.[14]

Some people simply cannot fall asleep in a sukka. Even though nothing in the sukka should bother them, they are tense from the different environment. Since, in fact, they cannot fall asleep, they are mitzta’arim and thus exempt. They are not obligated to build a sukka with brick walls so they will feel more comfortable and be able to sleep at night, for the Torah did not command us to build permanent walls to fulfill the mitzva. However, those who do so are commendable, for they will be able to fulfill the mitzva. In addition, one who is unable to sleep in the sukka at night must still sleep in the sukka by day if he wants to take a nap and is able to fall asleep in the sukka during the day.

If one wants to take an afternoon nap, but there are children playing noisily and disturbing him, and they will not manage to keep quiet even if he asks, he is considered mitzta’er. Thus, if he is tired, he may go inside to sleep.[15]

[14]. The poskim of Europe, living in climates much colder than Eretz Yisrael’s, concur that when it is very cold, one is exempt from sleeping in the sukka. However, they disagree about their places of residence. According to Mordekhai, whose author lived in Germany, one is exempt on account of the cold, while according to Rema, from Poland, one is obligated. It would seem that in Eretz Yisrael, where the climate is much warmer, one is always obligated. In fact, though, on cold nights in the highlands, quite a few people can catch a cold sleeping in the sukka. Perhaps this is because we are more spoiled. Nevertheless, in practice, one who is concerned about catching a cold should cover himself with heavy blankets. If experience shows him that this is still not enough, then he is considered mitzta’er and is exempt from sleeping in the sukka on such nights. If one fears catching a cold in the afternoon as well, he should sleep in the house then, too.

[15]. It is obvious that one who cannot fall asleep in the sukka is exempt because he is considered mitzta’er, although this exemption is limited to situations that would bring most people discomfort. If one is known to be delicate, and all delicate people would be mitzta’er, then he is exempt (Rema 640:5; MB ad loc. 28-29).

If there are guests in the sukka and it would be unpleasant to ask them to leave, one who needs to sleep has the status of mitzta’er and may sleep in the house (Halikhot Shlomo 9:19). Some are lenient in this case only if it would be difficult for him to sleep in a neighbor’s sukka (R. Elyashiv, quoted in Sukkat Ḥayim, p. 435).

11. Exemption from Sleeping – Married Men

Le-khatḥila, a married man must build a sukka where he and his wife can both sleep. Even though women are exempt from the mitzva of sukka, a woman who sleeps in the sukka fulfills a mitzva. Moreover, if the spouses sleep separately, it diminishes their festival joy. Thus, it is proper to build a sukka in which both spouses can sleep (above, 2:14; Harḥavot 2:14:5).

If it is impossible to prepare a place for the wife to sleep in the sukka – for instance, if the sukka is too small, or there are other men who need to sleep there, and they cannot build another sukka just for the couple – and the couple is mitzta’er when they sleep apart, some say the man may sleep in their bedroom at home. This is because the mitzva of sukka is for a man to sleep in the sukka in the way that he normally sleeps in his home, which is with his wife. If they cannot both sleep in the sukka, he is exempt (Rema 639:2). Others say that the man is exempt only if the couple are truly mitzta’er when they cannot sleep in their bedroom (MA ad loc. 8). Still others say that a married man has the same obligation to sleep in the sukka as a single man, and even if he is mitzta’er from sleeping in the sukka, apart from his wife, he is still obligated to sleep in the sukka. Only on special nights (such as when he and his wife will fulfill the mitzva of having marital relations with the regularity to which they are accustomed) is he exempt from sleeping in the sukka (Vilna Gaon; MB 639:18).

In practice, if one is truly mitzta’er when he sleeps apart from his wife he must invest effort and money into building a sukka where they can be together. If it is very difficult for him to do so, he may, if he wants, rely on those who are lenient and sleep inside.[16]

[16]. According to Rema (Darkhei Moshe 639:3), a mitzva of sukka (which obligates only men) is to sleep there along with one’s wife. Indeed, many people put up a sukka which enables this. If it is very difficult to build such a sukka, he is exempt from sleeping in the sukka, because being apart takes away from their joy and causes sorrow to one or both of them. This leniency applies even when the woman is a nidda, all the more so when she is not and being apart would cause them to neglect the mitzva of having marital relations (ona). Taz (639:9) similarly states that if a man wants to make his wife happy by sleeping in the same room as her even when she is a nidda, he is considered to be engaged in one mitzva (ona), and thus exempt from another (sleeping in the sukka). SAH ad loc. 9 concurs. However, MA ad loc. 8, based on Shlah, says that the man is exempt only if he is mitzta’er when he sleeps apart from his wife. Levush concurs. It seems that they would apply this even when the wife is a nidda. Vilna Gaon and Sha’ar Ephraim maintain that the mitzva of sukka does not entail sleeping in the sukka along with his wife. Similarly, Nishmat Adam (147:1) states that the mitzva to make one’s wife happy on Yom Tov is fulfilled by buying her clothing, not by sleeping in the same room as her. This is also the position of Bikurei Yaakov (639:18) and MB (ad loc. 18). They add that on any night that the couple fulfills the mitzva of ona with their regular frequency, the husband is exempt from sukka for the entire night.

Rema in Darkhei Moshe writes that one who trembles at God’s word will try to build a sukka where he and his wife can sleep, and thus serve God with joy, and that this is the custom of those who are meticulous. This is also the view of Derekh Ha-ḥayim; SAH; Ḥayei Adam; and others. Nevertheless, it would seem from the poskim that there is no obligation to spend a lot of money to build an extra sukka where he and his wife can sleep. The reason seems to be that since the sukka is a temporary residence, one needs to invest in it only what he would invest in renting an apartment for a week. It should be noted that, privacy permitting, it is permissible to have marital relations in a sukka (BHL 639:1 s.v. “ve-al”).

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).

13. Travelers and Those Engaged in Mitzvot

One who leaves his home to perform a mitzva, such as attending to a patient in the hospital, is exempt from sukka. There is a general principle that “one who is engaged in one mitzva is exempt from another mitzva” (“Osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva”). The bother of seeking or walking to a sukka may impair his fulfillment of the mitzva he is already engaged in (Sukka 25a). Even if there is a sukka nearby, if there is concern that he will not sleep well there, he should sleep where he will sleep best. However, if he can fulfill the mitzva of sukka with no trouble, and it will not impair his fulfillment of the mitzva he is already engaged in – for example, there is a comfortable sukka nearby – then when the patient does not need him close by, he should eat and sleep in the sukka (SA 640:7; MB ad loc. 37-38).

Soldiers who are on guard duty and have no free time are considered to be engaged in a mitzva and need not go to the trouble of building themselves a sukka. However, their commanders, who are tasked with seeing to their wellbeing, should make sure to put up a comfortable sukka in which the soldiers can eat and (security permitting) sleep.

As a rule, one may not work on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. However, there are exceptions to this rule, like people who work in bakeries and dairies (Peninei Halakha: Mo’adim 11:3). In these cases, if going to the sukka during work hours is troublesome for a worker, he is exempt from the mitzva of sukka due to the principle of “‘teshvu’ – ke’ein taduru.” Just as all year long they do not take the trouble to eat in a set dining room, so too on Sukkot, they are not required to take the trouble to eat in a sukka. If all year long they would prefer to eat in a cafeteria if there is one nearby, so too on Sukkot, they must eat in a sukka if there is one that they can use without troubling themselves.

Similarly, if one must take a business trip on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed to avoid the loss of a significant amount of money, and it would be troublesome for him to find a sukka while traveling, he may eat outside a sukka. If he is traveling by day, he is obligated in the mitzva of sukka at night. However, if putting up a sukka or traveling to one will take hours and harm the goals of the trip, he is exempt at night as well (SA and Rema 640:8; Levush; BHL s.v. “holkhei”).

One who must have a medical procedure on Sukkot that will cause him pain, to the point that he is considered a mitzta’er, is exempt from sukka as long as the pain endures. However, if the treatment can be performed before or after Sukkot, and he nevertheless decides to do it on Sukkot, then even though he is in pain, he is obligated in sukka. Since he unnecessarily inserted himself into a situation that makes him a mitzta’er, he is not exempt (Or Zaru’a; Hagahot Asheri; Rema 640:3).

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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