Assorted Issues

  • Rav Shmuel Shimoni
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

 

Gemara Sukka
Yeshivat Har Etzion


SHIUR #08: ASSORTED ISSUES

By Rav Shmuel Shimoni

 

A WOMAN'S OBLIGATION IN SUKKA

 

            The Gemara learns that a woman is exempt from sukka by way of a special derivation: "'The home born' (ha-ezrach) – to the exclusion of women," and then suggests that the exemption might be a law that was given to Moshe at Sinai (halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai), and the verse is merely an allusion to the law but not its actual source (asmakhta).  Regarding both possibilities, however, the Gemara asks: "Why is a verse necessary; why is a traditional law necessary? Surely, sukka is a time-bound positive precept, and women are exempt from all time-bound positive precepts!" Abaye and Rava offer two different answers to this question, each of which requires discussion.  In any event, the question arises: Even after we understand why a special verse or traditional law was needed to exempt women, is the exemption based on the general rule regarding time-bound positive precepts, or on a special rule unique to the mitzva of sukka?

 

            The Meiri (ad loc.) assumed as obvious the first approach: "Women, slaves, and minors are exempt from sukka.  This means: Women [are exempt] because sukka is a time-bound positive mitzva.  And even though they are obligated in matza, they are exempt from sukka.  And slaves [are exempt] because they are equated to women." The Ritva, however, implies otherwise.  The Gemara on p. 21b states as a novelty: "We learn [from this] that slaves are exempt from sukka" (see Tosafot, ad loc.).  The Ritva comments there as follows:

 

You might ask: What does this come to teach you; this is obvious, for sukka is a time-bound positive mitzva, and women and slaves are exempt from all time-bound positive mitzvot! This is not difficult, for it is stated at the end of this chapter that we need a halakha given to Moshe at Sinai to exempt [women], for we might have thought: "You shall dwell – similar to [normal] residence – a man and his wife.  Or else that we learn "the fifteenth" from the festival of Pesach; just as there women are obligated, so too here women are obligated.  According to this, we need to learn from the words of Rabban Gamliel that slaves are exempt from sukka, either based on a verse or based on a halakha given to Moshe at Sinai.

 

            In other words, even after the derivation from the verse or from the halakha known by tradition, the general rule governing time-bound positive precepts does not apply to sukka, and therefore a source is also needed to exempt slaves from sukka.

 

            If, indeed, the exemption of women from sukka is not based on the ordinary rules regarding obligation in mitzvot, but rather the Torah granted them an explicit exemption, it is possible that this is the basis for the custom in certain communities that women recite a blessing over other time-bound positive mitzvot, but not over sukka.  They recite a blessing over the other mitzvot, based on the view that while they are exempt, they are nevertheless connected to the mitzva, and their actions have value at the level of "one who is not commanded but does."  But they do not recite a blessing over the mitzva of sukka, because the Torah explicitly removed them from the mitzva (we will discuss below the special reason for exempting women from the mitzva of sukka).

 

ABAYE'S RATIONALE

 

Abaye said: In fact, sukka is a halakha [given to Moshe at Sinai.] And it was necessary, for I might have thought: "You shall dwell" – similar to [normal] residence; just as residence – a man and his wife, so too sukka, a man and his wife.  Therefore it teaches us [that this is not true].

 

            According to Abaye, the erroneous initial assumption is two-tiered:

 

1)         If a man dwells in a sukka without his wife, his dwelling does not fall into the category of "normal residence."

2)         This being the case, the obligation of dwelling in a sukka can be extended to a woman, despite the fact that according to the ordinary rules, she should be exempt from a sukka.  And this is in order to allow for a man's dwelling in a sukka to meet the required threshold.  It is not that the woman is obligated to help her husband fulfill his mitzva (as, for example, the Ran in Kiddushin says that while a woman is exempt from the mitzva of procreation, there is a mitzva for her to assist her husband in fulfilling his obligation).  Rather, in order to allow her husband to fulfill his obligation in the proper manner, the Torah veered from its ordinary rules and imposed the mitzva even on the woman.  There is a certain difficulty in this argument, and thus it is possible that it should be formulated in a slightly different manner: The nature of the mitzva of sukka is "like normal residence," and thus the obligation falls on the house as a whole, and not just on the men.

 

This second level, with all its novelty, is certainly rejected in the end.  But what about the first level? Does the presence of a person's wife constitute a significant aspect of "normal residence"? To answer this question, we must examine additional sources.

 

The Gemara in Arakhin states (according to the printed version):

 

All are obligated in sukka: priests, Levites, and Israelites.  – This is obvious; if they are not obligated, who is obligated? – It was necessary to mention priests, for I might have said: Since it is written: "You shall dwell in booths," and the master said: "You shall dwell seven days" – like [normal] residence; just as [normal] residence, a man and his wife, so too a sukka, a man and his wife.  And since priests are fit for [the Divine] service, they should not be obligated.  Therefore it teaches us: While they are exempt at the time of service, at other times they are obligated, just as is the case of wayfarers.  For the master said: Wayfarers who travel by day – are exempt from sukka during the day, but obligated at night.  (Arakhin 3b)

 

And Rashi explains:

 

"They are fit for service" – and they cannot live together with their wives in a sukka, for they must not have relations with their wives, because the [sacrificial] service of the festival is cast upon them.  Thus, I might have said that they are exempt.

"Therefore it teaches us" – even though "like normal residence" is not possible for them, whenever it is possible for them they are obligated.  Thus, at the time of service, they are exempt; at other times they are obligated.

 

            The Gemara's conclusion seems to be that at the time of service, when the priests must protect themselves from the ritual impurity contracted through relations, they are exempt from sukka, because their dwelling in the sukka would not fall into the category of "normal residence." [It is interesting to note that this exemption is valid even though they are unable to engage in relations even in their houses, and thus the sukka matches the present situation of the house.  This implies that the law of "normal residence" necessitates a certain objective level of dwelling in a sukka, something that connects to questions that we dwelt with in our shiur on the law of mitzta'er].  Thus, it may be concluded that the possibility of marital relations in the sukka is part of the law of "normal residence."

 

This has a ramification in the direction of stringency, namely, that whenever possible, a man should bring his wife into the sukka with him.  Thus, for example, writes the Maharil (Hilkhot Sukkot, no. 4):

 

The essence of the mitzva is for a man to sleep in the sukka with his wife.  He also said that in his younger years he had conducted himself in this manner.

 

            See also Torah Temima (Vayikra 23:42), who writes that while single women are exempt from sukka, married women are obligated to assist their husbands in fulfilling the mitzva of sukka and thus to remain with them therein.  In this context, there is room to speak also of a certain allowance.  Namely, that even if in general we accept the view of those who say that women should be prevented from fulfilling mitzvot from which they are exempt (Eruvin 96b), in the case of sukka, there is no room for this.  Thus writes the Ra'avan:

 

You might raise an objection from Rabbi Yehuda to Rabbi Yehuda, that here he says that we object to women [fulfilling mitzvot], and in tractate Sukka (2b) Rabbi Yehuda says that it happened that Queen Helene used to dwell in a sukka that was taller than twenty cubits, and the Elders used to go in and out without objecting.  Answer… "You shall dwell" – similar to normal residence, and residence means a man and his wife; and just as a woman dwells [in a sukka] because of her husband, so Helene dwelt [in a sukka] because of her sons.[1] (Ra'avan, no. 84)

 

            Alongside these points, however, the most far-reaching ramification follows from the words of the Gemara itself, that a person who is unable to do so, i.e., to bring his wife into the sukka, is exempt from the mitzva of sukka.  Based on this, the Rema suggested that it is possible to justify the widespread custom not to sleep in a sukka:

 

And it seems to me that it is has become customary to be lenient, because the mitzva of sukka is to sleep therein as a person sleeps in his house, a man with his wife.  As Chazal have expounded: You shall dwell – like [normal] residence.  And as it is stated in the Maharil that he would sleep with his wife in the sukka.  But in our time, when not everyone has his own sukka, but rather many people eat and drink in the same sukka, it is impossible for them to sleep together with their wives at the same time.  And if they leave their wives in their houses, and the men sleep in the sukka, it will sometimes cause distress, and it is not called "normal residence." And they already said: "The women of my people you cast from their pleasant houses" (Mikha 2:9) – this refers to one who sleeps in the same room where a man and his wife are sleeping, even if the woman is a menstruating woman.  And he will sometimes even come to nullify thereby the mitzva of ona (required conjugal relations).  Or he will nullify that which is stated: "And you shall rejoice, you and your household," for sometimes his wife will be distressed by this.  And because of this the custom developed to be lenient about the matter.  However, one who fears the word of God should strive to find a place where he can sleep without distress and he should sleep there and serve God with joy.  And this is the custom of the meticulous [in mitzvot].  And so is it explicitly stated at the beginning of the first chapter of Arakhin that when a person cannot be together with his wife, it is not called "normal residence," and he is exempt from sukka.  And so too is it implied in chapter Ha-Yashen regarding a bridegroom who is exempt from sukka (25b), and regarding women who are exempt from sukka (28b).  And while this may be rejected, nevertheless, it is from this that the custom developed, and it is a strong argument.  (Darkhei Moshe 639, no. 3).

 

            And in his glosses to the Shulchan Arukh, the Rema writes:

 

As for the customary practice to be lenient today about sleeping - that only those who are meticulous about the mitzvot sleep in the sukka – some say that this is because of the cold, that sleeping [in a sukka] in cold regions involves distress (Mordekhai, chap. Ha-Yashen).  But it seems to me that this is because the mitzva of sukka involves a man and his "house," a man and his wife in the manner in which he lives all year round.  Thus, in a place where a person cannot sleep together with his wife, because he does not have his own sukka, he is exempt.  It is, however, good to be there together with his wife as he lives all year round, if it is possible for him to have his own sukka.  (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayyim 639:2).

 

            The Rema in the Darkhei Moshe mentions several factors, i.e., mitzta'er and the nullification of a mitzva (see Taz, Magen Avraham and Mishna Berura [ad loc.] who emphasize these factors).  But the focus of his argument seems to rest on the rule raised by Abaye in our passage: "Just as residence – a man and his wife, so too a sukka – a man and his wife," based on the assumption that this was not rejected.  The Rema implies that if indeed a person finds it impossible to live with his wife in the sukka, there is no reason to remain in the sukka, but he is obligated to strive to be able to be with his wife in the sukka.  From the words of the Maharil, it sounds as if this is merely a more complete fulfillment of the mitzva, which he had observed during his younger years, but there is value to dwelling in a sukka even without this added fulfillment. 

 

            It should be noted that an alternative reading is brought in the margin of the Gemara in Arakhin, according to which the Gemara reads as follows:

 

All are obligated in sukka: priests, Levites, and Israelites.  – This is obvious; if they are not obligated, who is obligated? – It was necessary to mention priests, for I might have said: Since it is written: "You shall dwell in booths," and the master said: "You shall dwell seven days" – like [normal] residence; just as [normal] residence, both during the day and at night, so too a sukka, both during the day and at night.  And since priests are fit for [the Divine] service, they should not be obligated.  Therefore it teaches us: While they are exempt at the time of service, at other times they are obligated, just as is the case of wayfarers.  For the master said: Wayfarers who travel by day – are exempt from sukka during the day, but obligated at night.

 

            According to this reading, of course, the Gemara does not touch upon our problem at all, for it does not deal with the issue of a man dwelling together with his wife in the sukka.  See Responsa Maharam Chalawa (no.  16), who understood that a person's dwelling together with his wife is not at all a condition for "normal residence":

 

Dwelling [in the sukka] without one's wife is called dwelling… And even though we find in chapter Ha-Yashen: "You might have thought: 'You shall dwell' – similar to [normal] residence; just as residence, a man and his wife, etc." There it means as follows: You might have thought that women are obligated in sukka because it says "You shall dwell," which implies similar to normal residence, and a woman is also included in normal residence.  Therefore, when the verse states: "You shall dwell," this includes women.  And from there we learn that a man's dwelling without his wife is called dwelling.  For if you don't say this, rather than Abaye saying that were it not for the halakha [given to Moshe at Sinai], I might have said that women are obligated because it is stated "You shall dwell," similar to [normal] residence, on the contrary - Abaye should have said that were it not for the halakha [given to Moshe at Sinai] that exempts women from sukka, I might have said that married men are obligated in sukka only together with their wives, since it is says "You shall dwell," similar to [normal] residence, and the residence of a man without his wife is not called residence.  Rather, it certainly implies that it is obvious that a man's residence without his wife is called residence.  Nevertheless, since it says "You shall dwell," I might have said that it must be similar to [normal] residence; just as [normal] residence, a man and his wife, for she too is included in residence, so too dwelling in a sukka, a man and his wife, so that she should be obligated in sukka.  But in any event it is called residence and dwelling even with the man himself, and even if his wife is not with him. 

 

RAVA'S RATIONALE

 

Rava said: It was necessary, for I might have thought that we learn "fifteenth" – "fifteenth" from the festival of Pesach; just as there, women are obligated, so too here women are obligated.  Therefore it teaches us [that this is not true].

 

            Why does Rava think that a special source is necessary to exempt women from sukka, but there is no need for a special source to teach that women are exempt from lulav, so that we should not learn the same gezera shava of "fifteenth" – "fifteenth" from the festival of Pesach? To clarify this matter, let us open with a distinction proposed by our revered teacher, HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein, shelita, between the mitzva of sukka and the mitzva of lulav:

 

It seems obvious that a distinction may be drawn between eating matza and dwelling in a sukka, on the one hand, and lulav and maror, on the other.  For the taking of a lulav, and so too the eating of maror… are merely mitzvot that must be observed on their [respective] festival, but they do not shape and define that festival.  Go out and see, that in the scriptural verses and in the formulation that the Sages gave to the blessings, these festivals are called the festival of matzot and the festival of sukkot, on account of the eating and the dwelling, whereas the lulav and the maror do not determine the name of the festival.  It is also possible that this distinction is reflected in the fact that these two mitzvot apply only on the first day.  (Alon Shevut, no. 150).

 

            I heard a similar distinction voiced by my teacher, Rav Tabory.  He added that the way to test whether a particular mitzva constitutes an obligation that applies because of the day and over the course of the day, or whether it is an essential factor that shape the character of the festival – is the time of the obligation.  A mitzva that applies because of the day applies only during the daylight hours, i.e., by day and not at night; a mitzva that shapes the character of the festival begins together with the festival, i.e., at night.  Thus, the obligation of sukka begins at night, as opposed to the obligation of lulav which is only during the day.  Rav Tabory added that women are obligated in those mitzvot which determine the very essence of the festival; they are only exempt from those mitzvot which apply because of the day.  This, he argues, is the foundation of a woman's obligation in the mitzva of matza, which is derived by analogy from the prohibition to eat chametz: "Women are obligated to eat matza by Torah law, as it is stated: 'You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shall you eat unleavened bread with it' (Devarim 16:3) – whoever is governed by the prohibition to eat leavened bread is governed by the obligation to eat matza.  And women, since they are governed by the prohibition to eat leavened bread, are governed by the obligation to eat unleavened bread" (Pesachim 91b).  Their inclusion in the prohibition of chametz indicates that they are included in the essence of the festival of Pesach, and the flip side of the prohibition to eat chametz is the obligation to eat matza, since it too fashions the character of the festival of Pesach.  This is also the rationale behind learning a gezera shava from Pesach to Sukkot to obligate women in sukka, for those mitzvot that determine the nature of the festival are binding even upon women, and this is true regarding matza and sukka, but not lulav.

 

            If this is true, however, why according to the bottom line are women exempt from a mitzva that fashions the nature of the festival like the mitzva of sukka? Rav Shelomo Fisher, shelita, in his derashot, suggests that this may be understood based on the words of the Rashbam (Vayikra 23:43) regarding the mitzva of sukka:

 

"That your generations may know, etc." (Vayikra 23:43) – Its plain meaning is like those who say in tractate Sukka: an actual sukka.  And this is what it means: You shall make for yourself a festival of booths when you gather from your threshing floor and your wine-press, when you gather the corn of the field and your houses are filled with every good, grain, wine and oil, that you shall remember that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths in the wilderness for forty years without settlement and without inheritance.  And from this you will offer thanksgiving to Him who gave you an inheritance and your houses filled with every good, and you will not say in your hearts, "My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth"… And therefore we go out of our houses that are filled with every good at the time of the [harvest] gathering and we dwell in sukkot as a reminder that they did not have an inheritance in the wilderness, nor houses to dwell in.  And for this reason God established the festival of Sukkot at the time of gathering from the threshing floor and the wine-press, so that their hearts not swell on account of their houses that are filled with every good, lest they say, "Our hands have gotten us this wealth."

 

            The Rashbam explains that the mitzva of sukka does not involve an expression of thanksgiving for the sukkot provided by God in the wilderness, but rather it emphasizes the difference between our situation during the time of those sukkot and our situation following our inheritance of the land of Israel, with a reminder that prevents thoughts of "my power and the might of my hand." Based on this explanation, Rav Fisher suggests that women, who are not included in the inheritance of the land, are also not included in the mitzva of sukka.

 

A MINOR'S OBLIGATION IN SUKKA

 

Women, slaves and minors are exempt from sukka.  A minor who does not need his mother is obligated in sukka.  It once happed that the daughter-in-law of Shammai the Elder gave birth and he made an opening in the ceiling and spread sekhakh over the bed for the child…

"The home born" – to the exclusion of women; "all" – to include minors… - But surely we have learned: "Women, slaves and minors are exempt from sukka.  – This is not difficult: Here regarding a minor who has reached the [age of] training [in mitzvot]; here regarding a minor who has not reached the [age of] training [in mitzvot].  – A minor who has reached the [age of] training [in mitzvot] is [obligated] by rabbinic law! – It is by rabbinic law, and the verse is merely an allusion.

It once happened that the daughter-in-law of Shammai the Elder gave birth, etc." A story to contradict [what was just stated]? – [The Mishna] is surely lacking, and it teaches as follows: "And Shammai is stringent.  And it once also happened that the daughter-in-law of Shammai the Elder gave birth and he made an opening in the ceiling and spread sekhakh over the bed for the child.

 

            "And Shammai is stringent." The Ritva notes (and so too it is clear from the Gemara in Yevamot 15a) that we are dealing with a basic halakhic position and not merely with an added stringency: "It does not say that Shammai practiced stringency for himself, for in such a case where the minor is not obligated by Torah law, nor is the father obligated by rabbinic law, for the minor has not yet reached the [age of] training [in mitzvot], there is no reason to practice stringency to the extent of removing the ceiling, and this falls into the category of one who is not commanded about a matter and does it." If this is true, however, Shammai's position is astonishing – what value is there in training a newborn infant in mitzvot? The Maharshal in Yevamot appears to have been bothered by this problem, and therefore explained the matter in a slightly different manner:

 

"For the child" – this means, because she also had a child who was about five years old, and could not separate from his mother.

 

            It seems, however, that many understood the Mishna according to its plain sense, that Shammai spread sekhakh for the sake of the newborn infant, and thus the matter requires explanation, as stated by the Penei Yehoshua on our passage: "It seems that there is no reason for this stringency, for what training applies to a newborn infant who has no understanding whatsoever to be obligated in a positive precept."

 

            The commentators have proposed two different approaches to understand the position of Shammai and his disagreement with the Sages.  According to one explanation that was suggested in different formulations by the Ritva and the Penei Yehoshua, we are dealing with a localized law regarding the mitzva of sukka.  The Penei Yehoshua first suggests that we are dealing with sort of a scriptural decree: "Since regarding sukka, the Rabbis supported [their decree] with the derivation from the word 'all,' therefore it is possible to be more stringent about sukka." This, of course, does not explain why the Sages saw fit to be more stringent about sukka than about other mitzvot.

 

            The Ritva at first proposes an explanation for the existence of a localized stringency regarding sukka that applies by Torah law:

 

He maintains that [the minor's] father is obligated by Torah law, for "You shall dwell" – similar to [normal] residence, a man and his children.  For regarding the man himself, he expounds the verse in this manner, even though we do not expound the verse in a similar manner to obligate a woman in sukka.

 

            According to this, Shammai's position is not at all connected to the law of training in mitzvot, but rather to the father's obligation in the mitzva of sukka, the full observance of which can only be achieved together with the members of his family.  In this context, the Ritva mentions Abaye's initial understanding regarding a woman, but it must be emphasized that we are dealing with different cases: Abaye suggested a far-reaching initial assumption, that in order for a man's fulfillment of the mitzva of dwelling in a sukka to be complete, the Torah expanded the circle of those who are obligated to include women.  [Or according to another formulation that we proposed: the nature of the mitzva of sukka is "similar to normal residence," and therefore it is the household as a whole that is obligated in sukka, and not just men.] Here we are not talking about expanding the obligation to include minors – something that is impossible - but rather about imposing an obligation on the father to make sure that his children are with him, so that his own dwelling in the sukka be similar to normal residence.

 

            As we shall see below, the Ritva himself retracted this novel approach and chose another, but the Penei Yehoshua remained with this explanation to the end, though it is not clear whether he understood that this obligation is by Torah law:

 

It is more reasonable that this stringency of Shammai is not based on training [in mitzvot], but rather he is stringent on account of the severity of the mitzva, because of "You shall dwell" – similar to [normal] residence.  Even though there is no proof, there is a hint to the matter, for it is written: "Your children like olive plants round about your table" (Tehillim 128:3).  This is not the case with a woman, to which this does not apply at all even as a stringency, as proven from the fact that he [= Shammai] did not spread sekhakh for the sake of his daughter-in-law.  This is because a woman is not under the authority of others, and even in his house, a man cannot force his wife and remove her from a permanent dwelling to a temporary dwelling.

 

            It is clear from his words that in contrast to the position of the Torah Temima cited above, a woman is not bound by an obligation to assist her husband in fulfilling the mitzva of sukka by remaining there with him.

 

            In any event, regarding minors, it is stated here that according to Shammai their dwelling in the sukka with their father is meaningful not only because of the mitzva of training children in mitzvot, but because of "dwelling similar to normal residence." The Sages did not accept Shammai's conclusion, but we cited earlier the words of the Ra'avan who applied the principle even not according to Shammai.  The Gemara on p. 2b relates that Queen Helene dwelt in a sukka with her seven sons, the oldest of whom, who no longer needed their mother, were obligated by rabbinic law, based on the law of training minors in mitzvot, to dwell in a sukka.  This obligation was based on the law of training minors in mitzvot, but the Ra'avan writes that her allowance to dwell with them in the sukka was based on the law of "dwelling similar to normal residence," in order to allow them to fulfill their obligation of training in mitzvot in the proper manner:

 

You might raise an objection from Rabbi Yehuda to Rabbi Yehuda, that here he says that we object to women, and in tractate Sukka (2b) Rabbi Yehuda says that it happened that Queen Helene used to dwell in a sukka that was taller than twenty cubits, and the Elders used to go in and out without objecting.  Answer… "You shall dwell" – similar to normal residence, and residence means a man and his wife, and just as a woman dwells [in a sukka] because of her husband, so Helene dwelt [in a sukka] because of her sons.  (Ra'avan, no. 84)

 

            Here we have three novel ideas:

 

1.         The very principle that "normal residence" requires that the family dwell together in the sukka is true even according to the Sages.

2.         It is true even with regard to a mother and her sons.

3.         It is necessary not only for the parent, but for the child as well.

 

Let us now turn to the second approach, which, as stated above, the Ritva preferred:

 

Or else, and this is correct, [Shammai] is stringent about the training of a minor in [the mitzva of] sukka by rabbinic law to obligate him to eat with him in the sukka since it is possible and he is fit for that.  For this is the law regarding every mitzva to obligate [the minor] in training whenever it is possible and he is fit for that.  And the Sages maintain that since [the child's] mother is exempt from sukka, he is not fit for training in [the mitzva of] sukka as long as he needs his mother, for he should not be separated from her.

 

            Later in the tractate, the Gemara states that the age for training in mitzvot varies from one mitzva to the next:

 

A minor who knows how to wave - is obligated in lulav; to wrap himself – [he is obligated] in tzitzit; to take care of tefilin – his father is obligated to buy him tefilin; if he knows how to speak – his father teaches him Torah and to read the Shema…; if he can eat roasted meat in the amount of an olive – a korban pesach is slaughtered for him, as it is stated: "according to every man's eating" (Shemot 12:4).  (Sukka 42a-42b)

 

            As a rule, the criterion is the minor's ability to fulfill the mitzva in its entirety.  The Ritva understands that all agree that this criterion applies also to the mitzva of sukka, and that Shammai and the Sages disagree about the age that is relevant regarding the mitzva of sukka.  According to the Sages, as long as the child needs his mother, he cannot really function in the sukka, whereas according to the Shammai, the child's very presence in the sukka constitutes a perfect fulfillment of the mitzva, and therefore the law of training in mitzvot can be applied to him, "since it is possible and he is fit for that." This explanation remains difficult, for Rashi explains the basis for the law of training in mitzvot (Sukka 2b) as follows:

 

[Regarding] a minor who does not need his mother, we say below that [his father] is obligated to train him in the mitzva of sukka by rabbinic law, for they obligated him to train the minor in a mitzva that is appropriate for him, so that he trained and accustomed to mitzvot.

 

            Is it not clearly evident that an infant's dwelling in a sukka will not train him to fulfill the mitzva, that he be "trained and accustomed to mitzvot"?

 

            It is possible that indeed Shammai disagrees about this point, and has a different understanding, not of the mitzva of sukka, but of the law of training a minor in mitzvot.  Chinukh bears not only the modern sense of "education," but also "inauguration" as it is applied to the consecrated vessels in the Temple – initial use in a particular manner.  Chinukh as applied to children means that the Sages expanded the world of mitzvot to include also minors, and they demanded that just as adults fulfill mitzvot, so too minors are included in those mitzvot wherever it is possible, on the assumption that their actions have meaning even now.  Even if the newborn infant's dwelling in the sukka will have no influence on his future, it involves joining him to the Torah-observant world in the present.

 

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            Until the next shiur, you are asked to learn on your own the rest of page until the end of the chapter; we have already dealt with most of the laws appearing therein.  The next shiur will be an introduction to the third chapter of tractate Sukka and to the mitzvot of the "four species" taken to fulfill the mitzva of "taking the lulav." It is recommended to see the following sources:

 

1)         Mishna 41a; Yerushalmi, halakha 11 until "hatkana achar hatkana"; Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam, positive precept, no. 169.

2)         36b, "De-tanya be-sukkot… eitz avot le-sekhakh."

3)         41b, "Tanya Rabbi Eliezer… zerizin be-mitzvot."

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] This is a significant expansion of the issue under discussion – that even the dwelling of a mother with her children is part of the "normal residence" required by the mitzva of sukka.