Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev
Sukka 14 - Daf 27b
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Last week, we examined R. Eliezer's opinion that one must dwell in the same sukka for all of Sukkot. The gemara now brings yet another machloket between R. Eliezer and the Sages regarding the halakhot of sukka. There are two connections between the previous discussion of the gemara and the machloket we will see now. One is simply the fact that the same disputants are involved in the discussion. It is common for the gemara to bring several statements of the same person in succession, even when his statements are unrelated to each other. Because the discussions of the tanna'im were originally transmitted orally and committed to memory, it was at times convenient to organize material in this way. Entire sections of memorized material were preserved even when they were later put down in writing, leading to this type of organization in our Talmud. Another connection between the two discussions is that the following debate quotes, as a small part of the conversation, a segment of the previous discussion. It is also quite common for the gemara to quote discussions that bring in something that has just come up, even if the crux of the new discussion is unrelated to that previous point.
We begin the gemara from the 11th line of 27b.
R. Eliezer says: Just as a person does not fulfill his obligation on the first yom tov of the holiday with his friend's lulav,
as it says: "And you shall take for yourselves on the first day fruit of a citron tree, the branch of a date palm (etc.)" - from what is yours,
so a person does not fulfill his obligation in his friend's sukka, as it says: "A festival of sukkot you shall make for yourself seven days" - from what is yours.
And the Sages say: Even though a person does not fulfill his obligation on the first yom tov with his friend's lulav,
yet he fulfills his obligation in his friend's sukka,
as it says: "Every resident in
it teaches that all
And the Rabbis, this "yourself" what do they learn from it?
They need it to exclude stolen, but borrowed - it says "every resident."
And R. Eliezer, this "every resident" what does he do with it?
He needs it for a convert who converted in between and a minor who reached adulthood in between.
And the Rabbis: since they said we (may) make a sukka on chol hamo'ed - it does not require a verse.
רבי אליעזר אומר: כשם שאין אדם יוצא ידי חובתו ביום טוב הראשון של חג בלולבו של חבירו,
דכתיב (ויקרא כג): "ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון פרי עץ הדר כפת תמרים" - משלכם,
כך אין אדם יוצא ידי חובתו בסוכתו של חבירו, דכתיב חג הסוכת תעשה לך שבעת ימים - משלך.
וחכמים אומרים: אף על פי שאמרו אין אדם יוצא ידי חובתו ביום טוב הראשון בלולבו של חבירו,
אבל יוצא ידי חובתו בסוכתו של חבירו, דכתיב (ויקרא כג): "כל האזרח בישראל ישבו בסכת" -
מלמד שכל ישראל ראוים לישב בסוכה אחת.
ורבנן, האי לך מאי דרשי ביה?
מיבעי ליה למעוטי גזולה, אבל שאולה - כתיב כל האזרח.
ורבי אליעזר, האי כל האזרח מאי עביד ליה?
מיבעי ליה לגר שנתגייר בינתים, וקטן שנתגדל בינתים.
ורבנן: כיון שאמרו עושין סוכה בחולו של מועד - לא אצטריך קרא.
R. Eliezer makes a comparison between the halakhot of lulav and those of sukka. For the sake of simplicity, the four species are often referred to as "lulav," despite the fact that lulav is just one of the four species. In fact, in the beracha we make before picking up the species we say al netilat lulav, even though the mitzva for which we are saying the beracha is that of the four species; there is no independent mitzva of lulav.
There is a universally accepted requirement that one fulfill one's mitzva of the four species, at least on the first day of Sukkot, with species that one actually owns. The fact that one must own one's minim means that it is not sufficient to borrow someone else's species. This applies even to borrowing from members of one's own family. If one does not have one's own minim and wants to fulfill the mitzva, he must have someone else give him the minim as a gift, so that they are legally his when he performs the mitzva.
The source of this halakha regarding lulav is the pasuk that commands us to perform this mitzva: "You shall take for yourselves . . ." (Vayikra 23). The word "for yourselves" (lakhem) is undestood to also mean "from that which is yours" (mi-shelakhem). R. Eliezer notes that a similar derasha can be made regarding the mitzva of sukka. The pasuk regarding sukka states: "The holiday of Sukkot you shall make for yourself" (Devarim 16). We saw last week that this pasuk is understood to refer not only to the celebration of the holiday, but also to the construction of the actual sukkot, as implied by "you shall make." That having been established, the conclusion of the phrase, "for yourself," seems unnecessary. R. Eliezer therefore claims that it implies that the sukka must be "from that which is yours," meaning that one must own one's sukka - just like the word "for yourselves" in the pasuk of lulav.
The Sages respond by quoting a different verse with regard to sukka: "All the residents of
Now that R. Eliezer has quoted a pasuk in support of his position and the Sages have brought a pasuk that supports their opinion, the obvious question is how each side explains the pasuk that seems to support its adversary. The gemara goes on to explain that each side concedes to the general understanding proposed by the other side, but limits it somewhat. The Sages understand "for yourself" as excluding only a case of a stolen sukka, but not a situation in which someone borrows a sukka. This understanding maintains the implication that "for yourself" implies that one has a right to be there, but interprets it more generally in order that it not conflict with the pasuk of "every resident."
R. Eliezer admits that the phrase "every resident" seems to be very inclusive, but he argues that it does not mean that everyone can fulfill their mitzva in one sukka. Rather, it means that everyone who is a "resident" on Sukkot can fulfill the mitzva of sukka. Even someone who was not a full resident at the beginning of the holiday - such as someone who had not yet converted to Judaism, or a child who was not yet obligated in mitzvot - may fulfill the mitzva of sukka later in the holiday if he has become a full member of the Jewish people who is obligated in mitzvot.
This interpretation of the pasuk is only necessary according to the opinion of R. Eliezer that we saw last week. R. Eliezer is of the opinion that one must have single sukka for the entire holiday of Sukkot. One who did not build a sukka before Sukkot may not build one in the middle of the holiday. Accordingly, one may have thought that one who did not have the opportunity to fulfill the mitzva at the beginning of the holiday does not have the ability to start fulfilling the mitzva in the middle of the holiday. The pasuk therefore teaches that this is not the case.
Moving on in the gemara
We are 11 lines from the end of the short lines on 27b.
The Rabbis taught:
It once happened that R. Ilai went to visit R. Eliezer his teacher in Lod on the festival.
He said to him: Ilai, you are not from those who rest on the festival!
For R. Eliezer would say, I praise the lazy people who do not leave their houses on the festival, as it says, "And you shall rejoice, you and your house."
Is this really so? Why, R. Yitzchak said: From where that one is obligated to visit his teacher on the festival?
For it says, "Why are you going to him today; it is not a New Moon or Shabbat?" - This implies that on a New Moon or Shabbat, one is obligated to visit his teacher!
No question: this - when he goes and comes on its day, this - when he goes and does not come on its day.
ת"ר (=תנו רבנן):
מעשה ברבי אלעאי שהלך להקביל פני רבי אליעזר רבו בלוד ברגל.
אמר לו: אלעאי, אינך משובתי הרגל!
שהיה רבי אליעזר אומר: משבח אני את העצלנין שאין יוצאין מבתיהן ברגל, דכתיב (דברים יד) "ושמחת אתה וביתך."
איני? והאמר רבי יצחק: מניין שחייב אדם להקביל פני רבו ברגל?
שנאמר (מלכים ב ד) "מדוע את הולכת אליו היום לא חדש ולא שבת" - מכלל דבחדש ושבת מיחייב איניש לאקבולי אפי רביה!
לא קשיא, הא - דאזיל ואתי ביומיה, הא - דאזיל ולא אתי ביומיה.
While we are on the topic of R. Eliezer, the gemara relates yet another opinion of his, stated in the context of a particular incident. It once happened that R. Ilai, a student of R. Eliezer, traveled to Lod to visit him during a festival. R. Eliezer rebuked him for not being home for the festival. The baraita explains the rebuke by quoting R. Eliezer's rule that one should stay home and rejoice with one's family on the festival, as implied by a verse in Devarim 14.
The gemara questions R. Eliezer's position based on a statement of R. Yitzchak. R. Yitzchak taught that one is actually obligated to visit one's teacher on yom tov. If so, R. Ilai was justified, and R. Eliezer should not have rebuked him!
The source for R. Yitzchak's ruling is a verse in Sefer Melakhim. The story goes like this: The prophet Elisha would travel from place to place giving advice and guidance to the Jewish people. In Shunam, a certain woman convinced her husband to make a room for Elisha so that he could stay with them whenever he was in the area. In return, Elisha promised that the barren woman would have a child, and she did. A few years later the boy suddenly took ill and died. His distraught mother immediately traveled to Elisha, who returned to the boy and miraculously brought him back to life. When the woman traveled to Elisha, she did not tell her husband, who did not yet know that his son had died, the purpose of her journey. He questioned why she was going to Elisha now; after all, it was "not a New Moon or Shabbat." The woman simply replied "shalom" and went on her way. R. Yitzchak infers from the husband's question that one is obligated to visit one's teacher on rosh chodesh and Shabbat.
The gemara answers its question by asserting that R. Yitzchak's rule applies only to a situation in which one can visit one's teacher and return home on the same day. If one would not be able to return home that day, one is not obligated to visit. In that situation, R. Eliezer's rule that one should stay home and rejoice with family applies. R. Ilai was apparently unable to return home the same day he had left. Therefore, R. Eliezer rebuked him.
Look back at the source of R. Yitzchak's statement. What difficulty does there seem to be in utilizing this verse as the source of R. Yitzchak's rule? How can we resolve this difficulty?
The clear difficulty with the source of R. Yitzchak's statement is that the verse mentions only rosh chodesh and Shabbat, whereas R. Yitzchak mentions yom tov! At first glance, one could suggest simply that there is no difference between any of the special days mentioned here. If one must greet one's teacher on rosh chodesh and shabbat, one must do the same on festivals. This may especially be true since festivals do have a status that places them in between rosh chodesh, which has a lower level of sanctity than yom tov, and shabbat, which has a higher level of sanctity. However, this answer does not seem to be sufficient. If the main source of the principle was stated with regard to rosh chodesh and Shabbat, why would R. Yitzchak formulate his statement specifically with regard to festivals, even if it also happens to have the same requirement?
One can respond that perhaps it is precisely because the verse mentions only rosh chodesh and Shabbat that R. Yitzchak specifically mentions festivals. One may have thought that the rule only applies on the days explicitly mentioned in the verse. R. Yitzchak therefore emphasizes that the rule applies even on festivals.
The Ritva, though, adds that there is actually a unique level of obligation on the festivals that does not apply on Shabbat or rosh chodesh. On Shabbat and rosh chodesh, one must visit one's teacher only if he is in the same techum (i.e., in the same town or within 2000 cubits of the town - in other words, in close proximity). On the festivals, one must visit one's teacher even if he is farther away - as long as one can make the round trip on one day, as our gemara states.
This explanation answers the question of why R. Yitzchak specifically mentions festivals, but it is somewhat difficult to understand why the obligation would be more stringent on festivals, which is the only time not mentioned in the verse, than it is on Shabbat and rosh chodesh. A possible solution to this problem may relate to why it is that one should visit one's teacher at all on these days. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that they are holy days which are more conducive to spiritual rejuvenation, and days on which it is practically more feasible to take out time from one's regular activities. On Shabbat, there is a high level of holiness and one is not working, so it is an appropriate time to visit one's teacher, who can provide guidance and inspiration. However, one is not permitted to travel outside the techum. On rosh chodesh, there is a level of holiness, but people are allowed to work, so it is difficult to make a big trip. On the festivals, one may not work (except under certain circumstances) and one may travel outside the techum (at least on chol hamo'ed). It is a time that is conducive to longer trips, and one must therefore visit one's teacher even outside of the techum.