The Obligation of Eating in a Sukka on the First Night of Sukkot

  • Rav Shmuel Shimoni

 

The Obligation of eating in a Sukka

 on the first night of Sukkot

 

Rav Shemuel Shimoni

 

Introduction

 

            We are all familiar with the principle governing the mitzva of sukka, namely, that there is no obligation to eat in a sukka, but rather that any regular meal (akhilat keva) of which we partake must be eaten in a sukka. The Sages formulated this idea in the Mishna in Sukka as follows: "There is no defined number" (27a).[1] This idea gave rise to various formulations of the essence of the mitzva of sukka among the Acharonim. Some suggest that essentially the mitzva consists of a prohibition to eat outside the sukka;[2] others define it as a "fulfillable" (kiyyumit) mitzva rather than an obligatory one;[3] yet others argue that there is a positive mitzva upon each person to turn the sukka into his house for the week's duration, the practical expression of which being that any regular meal must be eaten therein.[4] In any event, practically speaking, eating in a sukka during the week of Sukkot is optional, rather than obligatory.

 

            As for the eating, it would be appear that we are not dealing with an act of eating in the usual sense, but rather one of the practical expressions of a more general obligation of dwelling in a sukka. A person is obligated to turn the sukka into his house; this has many expressions, as explained in the Baraita:

 

"You shall dwell" – similar to [normal] residence. From here [the Sages] said: Throughout the seven days [of the festival], the sukka must be regarded as one's principal abode, and the house merely a temporary residence. How so? If a person has pretty dishes, he brings them up to the sukka; attractive linens, he brings them up to the sukka; he eats, drinks, and enjoys himself in the sukka, and he studies in the sukka. (Sukka 28b)

 

            The main expressions of dwelling, those which may not be done outside the sukka, are eating and sleeping. As Rashi puts it: "The essence of dwelling in a sukka involves eating, drinking, and sleeping" (20b). But we are not talking about eating as eating per se, or about sleeping as sleeping per se, but rather as expressions of dwelling.[5] Accordingly, the measure of eating in this context is not the size of an olive, as in the rest of the Torah, but rather a larger measure, as is discussed in the passage in Sukka 26a-27a. Here we require eating in the amount of a regular meal, for it is only eating this amount outside the sukka that constitutes a violation of the obligation to dwell in a sukka.[6]

 

            As stated, the basic rule is that there is no obligation to eat in a sukka. In this shiur we shall examine the first night of Sukkot, which constitutes an exception to this rule, and try to understand its standing in light of the principles that we saw above.

 

The first night of sukkot

 

Rabbi Eliezer says: A person is obligated to eat fourteen meals in the sukka, one during the day and one at night. And the Sages say: There is no defined number, except for the first night of the festival…

What is Rabbi Eliezer's reasoning? 'You shall dwell' – similar to [normal] residence. Just as residence [in the house] – one [meal] during the day and one at night, so too in the sukka – one [meal] during the day and one at night…

And the Sages’ [reasoning]: It is like residence; just as in his residence – if he wishes, he eats, if he wishes, he does not eat, so too a sukka – if he wishes, he eats, if he wishes, he does not eat.

If so, even on the first night of the festival [he should not have to eat]! Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak: It says here "the fifteenth," and it says "the fifteenth" regarding Pesach. Just as there – the first night is obligatory, from then on it is optional, so too here – the first night is obligatory, from then on it is optional. And from where do we know [the law] there? The verse states: "In the evening, you shall eat matzot" – Scripture established it as an obligation [on the first night].

 

            Many Rishonim were troubled by a question relating to the position of the Sages. The Gemara in Berakhot 49b implies that there is an obligation to eat bread-based meals on Yom Tov:

 

Rav Idi bar Avin said in the name of Rav Amram quoting Rav Nachman who had it from Shemu'el: If one by mistake omitted to mention Rosh Chodesh in the [Amida] prayer, he is made to begin again; if in Birkat ha-Mazon, he is not made to begin again.

Rav Idi bar Avin said to Rav Amram: Why this difference between prayer and Birkat ha-Mazon?

He replied: I also had the same difficulty, and I asked Rav Nachman, and he said to me: From Mar Shemu'el personally I have not heard anything on the subject, but let us see for ourselves. [I should say that] in the case of prayer, which is obligatory, he is made to begin again, but in the case of a meal, which he can eat or not eat as he pleases, he is not made to begin again. But if that is so [said the other], in the case of Shabbat and festivals, on which it is not possible for him to abstain from eating, I should also say that if he makes a mistake he must go back to the beginning? He replied: That is so.

 

            The Rishonim noted that even on Rosh Chodesh one is forbidden to fast, and so we are forced to say that the threshold for the obligation to go back to the beginning regarding Birkat ha-Mazon must be the obligation to eat bread, and thus to recite Birkat ha-Mazon. It follows then from the Gemara that on Yom Tov one is obligated to eat bread-based meals. This, as stated above, brought the Rishonim to raise an objection against the position of the Sages regarding the meals that must be eaten in the sukka. There are various formulations of the objection, all of which are directed at the same point:

 

1)        What is meant by the assertion: "if he wishes, he eats, and if he wishes, he does not eat" – surely there is an obligation to eat, based on the law of Yom Tov meals?

 

2)        Why is a special derivation necessary for the obligation to eat in a sukka on the first night of Sukkot? Surely there is an obligation to eat a Yom Tov meal on the first night of the festival, and perforce it must be eaten in the sukka, in the framework of the "fulfillable" mitzva to eat in a sukka all seven days of the festival!

 

To resolve these difficulties, the Rishonim adopted various approaches, which provide important new understandings in a number of areas.

 

The position of TOsafot in Sukka

 

            Let us open with the resolution put forward by the Tosafot on our passage (s.v. iy), who suggest an exceedingly novel position, not regarding the mitzva of sukka, but regarding the general obligation of a Yom Tov meal:

 

"If he wishes, he eats, and if he wishes, he does not eat" – at all, for if he eats, he is obligated to eat in a sukka, as was stated above. This implies that on Yom Tov, there is no obligation [to eat], and if a person wishes, he does not eat at all, except for the first night of the festival. According to this, if by mistake one omitted to mention Yom Tov in Birkat ha-Mazon, he is not made to begin again. And that which is stated in chapter "Shelosha she-akhlu" (Berakhot 49b): "In the case of Shabbat and festivals, on which it is not possible for him to abstain from eating, I should also say that if he makes a mistake he must go back to the beginning" – this refers only to the first night of the festival of Pesach and the first night of the festival of Sukkot.

 

            According to the Tosafot, there is no obligation whatsoever to eat a bread-based meal on Yom Tov, and the aforementioned words of the Gemara must be limited to the first night of Pesach and Sukkot. What is the basis for this difference between Shabbat, which requires bread-based meals, and Yom Tov, which does not? The Rashba in Berakhot, who shares the view of our Tosafot, related to this question, writing:

 

All other Yom Tov meals, even on the first day of the festival, he is not made to begin again [in Birkat ha-Mazon], for if he wishes, he does not eat bread, as it is also stated in tractate Sukka… From this we also learn that on Shabbat he perforce eats bread, and this is because it says "oneg" ["delight"], and there is no delight without eating bread.

 

            In other words, the obligation of oneg is unique to Shabbat, and that is what obligates bread-based meals. Against this, stand the words of the Rambam (Hilkhot Yom Tov 6:15):

 

The commandment to honor Shabbat and make it a delight applies equally to all the festivals. For Scripture says: "And call … the holy of the Lord clothed with honor" (Yeshayanu 58:13), and to each of the festivals it applies the term, "a holy convocation" (Vayikra 23:2, passim; Bamidbar 28:18, passim). We have explained the meaning of "honor" and "delight" in the laws concerning Shabbat.[7]

 

            It should be noted that the approach of the Tosafot on our passage and the Rashba in Berakhot is relatively exceptional among the Rishonim. Elsewhere, even the Tosafot (see, for example, Berakhot 49b, s.v. iy) assume that eating a bread-based meal on Yom Tov is obligatory. The Meiri on our passage and in Berakhot 49b proposes several more moderate versions of the Tosafot's approach:

 

1)         The obligation to eat a bread-based meal on Yom Tov, other than on the first night of Sukkot and Pesach, is merely by rabbinic law.

 

2)         "Perhaps, based on the law of Yom Tov, one is merely obligated not to spend the Yom Tov in a fast. But if a person ate his fill on Erev Yom Tov, he is not obligated to eat on the night of Yom Tov until the next day. Because of the law of sukka and matza, however, he is obligated to eat at night."

 

3)         "Some explain that on Shabbat and Yom Tov it suffices to eat fruit. And even though they do not require Birkat ha-Mazon, it is possible with fruit included among the seven species that require the me'ein shalosh blessing. And according to the Yerushalmi, mention is made therein of the day. And on Rosh Chodesh, one is not even required to eat fruit, for the only thing that is forbidden is fasting due to grief and sorrow. On Shabbat, however, all agree that one must eat bread, for 'oneg' is mentioned in its regard, and there is no 'oneg' without bread."

 

THe position of the Ba'al ha-Ma'or

 

            The Ba'al ha-Ma'or in Pesachim adopted a different approach:

 

If he wishes, he eats nothing at all during the day, for the Yom Tov of Sukkot is different than other Yomim Tovim. For the Torah likens it to residence: If he wishes, he eats, and if he wishes, he does not eat. And just as Rabbi Eliezer made it different to be stringent, so too the Sages make it different to be lenient. (18b in Alfasi, s.v. ve-rabbi)

 

            This position assumes that the Tosafot's general understanding of Yom Tov is mistaken – it goes without saying that Yom Tov requires two bread-based meals. They are right, however, specifically about Sukkot, for there is a special scriptural decree that exempts Sukkot from the general obligation of Yom Tov meals.[8]

 

            The scriptural decree, as the Ba'al ha-Ma'or understands it, is exceedingly interesting. He draws an analogy between Rabbi Eliezer (who learns from the rule of "'You shall dwell' – similar to [normal] residence," an obligation to eat fourteen meals over the seven days of the festival – a clear obligation of dwelling in the sukka), and the Sages (who from the same rule derive an exemption from the Yom Tov meal). In other words, in order to give the mitzva of sukka the proper character, according to the Sages, the meals must be defined as optional, for only then would the sukka have the defining characteristic of a house, and the need to give the mitzva of sukka the proper character supersedes the general obligation of Yom Tov.

 

Now, we must ask: Is it possible that according to the Ba'al ha-Ma'or, on the Shabbat of Sukkot there is no obligation to eat three meals? If we answer in the affirmative, we must understand that despite the fact that there is a conflict here, the mitzva of sukka supersedes the obligations of Yom Tov and Shabbat. Assuming, however, that this conclusion regarding Shabbat is unreasonable, and in the words of the Ba'al ha-Ma'or there is no hint to this halakhic novelty regarding Shabbat, but only with respect to the Yom Tov of Sukkot, we must accept one of the following alternatives:

 

1)         The mitzva of sukka is strong enough to cancel the laws of Yom Tov, but the laws of Shabbat are more important and not so easily canceled. This understanding is difficult – from where do we derive such a distinction?

 

2)         We are not dealing here with one halakhic realm superseding another. The Shabbat of Sukkot has a certain sanctity of its own, and this sanctity obligates certain laws that are not related in any way to the sanctity of the festival of Sukkot. The Yom Tov of Sukkot, in contrast, is a day the entire sanctity of which is the sanctity of the festival of Sukkot, and therefore its laws are determined in light of the nature of the mitzva of sukka. Thus, there is room to say that its laws are different from those of the other Yomim Tovim. It is, of course, possible that the Rishonim who disagree with the Ba'al ha-Ma'or reject this understanding, and think that the sanctity of Yom Tov is an independent factor, and while in this case we are dealing with the Yom Tov of Sukkot, the sanctity of the day does not rest on its being Sukkot.

 

The position of the Ran and other rishonim

 

            The prevalent position among the Rishonim assumes that there is an obligation to eat a bread-based meal on the night of Yom Tov and during the day, and this includes Sukkot. The expression, "if he wishes, he eats," does not relate to other halakhic obligations such as the obligation to eat a Yom Tov meal. When the Torah commands that one must eat in the sukka on the first night of Sukka, it has ramifications beyond the obligation to eat a Yom Tov meal together with the law that a regular meal on Sukkot must be eaten in a sukka.

 

            These ramifications require examination, but before doing so, let us consider a question, or more precisely two questions, that arise regarding the basic nature of the obligation of eating a meal on the first night of Sukkot. As we have seen, according to the Tosafot, the Rashba and the Ba'al ha-Ma'or, the very existence of an obligation to eat a meal on this night is a novelty. This allows us to propose that we are not dealing with an obligation that stems from the mitzva of sukka, but rather that the Torah imposed the obligation of a meal, which because it is eaten on the festival of Sukkot, must be eaten in a sukka. According to this understanding, were a person to eat outside of a sukka, e.g. where he falls into the category of mitzta'er (a person who would suffer distress were he to eat in a sukka), and later the cause of the distress was removed, he would not be obligated to eat another meal in the sukka. While this understanding may seem surprising, it finds support in the words of the Rishonim and Acharonim in various contexts.

 

            Even if we assume that we are dealing with an obligation that stems from the mitzva of sukka, there is room for two different understandings:

 

1)      As we have emphasized above, the mitzva on the seven days of the festival is not to eat and sleep in the sukka, but to dwell in the sukka, that is, to reside in it, the primary practical expressions of which are eating and sleeping. It is, therefore, reasonable to understand that even when we encounter the obligatory mitzva to eat on the first night of the festival, it is not essentially an obligation of eating, as in the case of matza, but rather an obligation to fulfill in a practical manner one of the primary expressions of dwelling – eating a regular meal in the sukka.

 

2)      The obligation to eat a meal on the first night of the festival is different in its very essence, and not only in the level of obligation, from the obligation of eating on the other days. On the first night, we are not dealing with an obligation of dwelling, but with an obligation analogous to that of matza, which imposes a special duty of eating on the first night in the sukka.

 

Of course, if we understand that we are not dealing with an obligation that stems from the mitzva of sukka, but rather with an obligation to eat a meal, which by chance must be eaten in the sukka, it is then clear that the nature of the obligation is not one of dwelling, but rather of eating.

 

Let us now examine the first direction taken by the Ran to explain the contribution of the first derivation that obligates us in a meal on the first night of Sukkot:

 

And regarding the first day of the festival of Sukkot, we also learn that one is obligated to eat an amount that obligates eating in the sukka. For based on the law of Yom Tov, it would suffice to eat the quantity of an egg in a haphazard manner outside the sukka. And we learn also from the festival of Pesach that one is obligated to eat an amount that obligates eating in the sukka. It seems, therefore, that one is obligated to eat more than the amount of an egg. (Ran, 12b in Alfasi, s.v. matni)

 

            According to this approach, it stands to reason that on the first night of Sukkot there is an obligatory mitzva to dwell in a sukka, which is expressed through eating. In order to fulfill the mitzva of eating, it suffices to eat the amount of an olive, as in the case of matza, for eating the amount of an olive is regarded as eating. Since, however, the mitzva is dwelling in a sukka, it is necessary to partake of a regular meal, and therefore one must eat more than the amount of an egg (the precise amount is discussed later in the tractate, pp. 26a-27a).

 

            In the continuation, the Ran changes direction:

 

But there are those who say as follows: Since we learn from the festival of Pesach, we learn entirely from it: Just as there the size of an olive, so too here the size of an olive. And even though on the other days of the festival [of Sukkot] the size of an olive is regarded as haphazard [eating], and it may be eaten outside a sukka, nevertheless on the first night, since Scripture established it as an obligation to eat in the sukka, it is regarded as a regular meal.

 

            It is possible to understand that this opinion radically disagrees with the previous view. There is no obligation to eat the amount of a regular meal, and therefore this is not an obligation of dwelling, but rather of eating. Moreover, this is not an obligation stemming from the mitzva of sukka, but rather an obligation to eat a meal on the fifteenth of Tishrei. But since Scripture established it as obligatory, it is regarded as a regular meal, and thus it must be eaten in a sukka, based on the "fulfillable" mitzva of eating in a sukka all seven days of the festival.

 

            Upon careful examination of the Ran's wording, however, we see that the obligation is to eat in the sukka: "Since Scripture established it as an obligation to eat in the sukka." Thus, we are dealing with an obligation that stems from the mitzva of sukka; and this is not a mitzva of eating, but rather of dwelling, for it is necessary to note that because Scripture established it as obligatory, this turns the eating into a regular meal. This being the case, it seems that even according to this view, we are dealing with the obligatory mitzva of dwelling in a sukka. A certain lack of clarity remains, however, for if Scripture established it as obligatory to eat in the sukka, why do we need the added element that therefore it is regarded as a regular meal? In any event, Scripture required that the meal be eaten in a sukka!

 

Practically speaking, according to the prevalent opinion, eating the amount of an olive suffices.[9] Thus rules also the Rambam: "Eating on the first night of the festival in a sukka is obligatory. Even if he eats the amount of an olive, he has fulfilled his obligation. From then on, it is optional" (Hilkhot Sukka 6:7). We are still left with an open question. The wording of the Rambam suggests that just as on the other days of the festival one is permitted to eat food in the amount of an olive outside the sukka, so too on the first night of the festival, but on that night, one is obligated to eat the size of an olive inside a sukka. The Tur, however, states otherwise:

 

Once he eats in [the sukka] grain in the amount of an olive, he has fulfilled his obligation, even though the measure regarding [the prohibition] of eating outside a sukka is the amount of an egg. The first night is different, because the obligation is greater, so that even if he wishes to eat only the amount of an olive, he is forbidden to do so outside the sukka. Therefore, he fulfills therewith also the obligation of sukka. (Tur, 639)

 

            There are two novelties in the Tur's position:

 

1)      In addition to the obligatory mitzva of the first night, the regulations of the "fulfillable" mitzva are different on the first night than on the other days of the festival, so that on the first night one is forbidden to eat bread in the amount of an olive outside the sukka.

 

2)      This itself bestows importance upon eating in the amount of an olive on the first night, so that it is regarded as a regular meal, with which one can fulfill the obligatory mitzva. It is clear that even according to the Tur, the mitzva is dwelling, but the parameters of dwelling are different on the first night than on the other days of the festival, both regarding the "fulfillable" mitzva and the obligatory mitzva.

 

 The Ran in the continuation cites another opinion:

 

Others say that for this reason we learn the first night of the festival of Sukkot from the festival of Pesach, to teach us that even if it is raining, one is obligated to eat in the sukka, even though he is exempt on the other days.

 

            Here we have a clear expression of the understanding that the obligation on the first night of Sukkot is not one of dwelling, but rather of eating. The exemption from sukka granted to one who would suffer distress therefrom is derived from the rule of "'You shall dwell' – similar to [normal] residence," this not being the type of dwelling that the Torah commanded about. On the first night of the festival, the obligation is one of eating, and not of dwelling, and this obligation is not impaired if it is accompanied by distress. This, of course, assumes that the sukka is a sukka that is fit for the mitzva in all ways, and the deficiency in the law of distress is in the act of dwelling, so that if we are not dealing with an act of dwelling, but rather an act of eating, the obligation remains in place.

 

            A more moderate position in this context is found in the Tosafot in Berakhot:

 

If you say: What is the difference whether he is required to eat because of Yom Tov or because of Sukkot? Rabbenu Yehuda says that there is a practical ramification in a case where it was raining and he ate outside the sukka. Now if because of the honor of Yom Tov, this is good. But if for sukka on the first day of the festival, he must eat again in the sukka after it stops raining, for we learn "fifteenth" - "fifteenth" from Pesach. But on the other days this is not necessary. (Tosafot, Berakhot 49b, s.v. iy)

 

            According to this view, there is no reason to eat in the sukka while it is raining, for this is not considered dwelling in a sukka. But the exemption of mitzta'er regarding excessive effort that need not be invested in order to reach a sukka does not apply on the first night of Sukkot. According to this, it is clear that we are dealing with an obligation of dwelling, to which some of the leniencies applying the rest of the week do not apply.

 

The Rashba in a responsum (IV, no. 78) disagrees with both of these views. He understands that we are dealing with dwelling that is no different than the dwelling of the rest of the week, except for the fact that on the first night it is obligatory, while on the other days it is optional:

 

It seems to me that if one suffers distress and it rains upon him, he is not required to eat in a sukka once it has reached the stage that "a stiff dish is spoiled." For we say "'You shall dwell' – similar to [normal] residence." And the Torah only obligated one to eat in a sukka in the manner that he eats in his house. For were this the case, it is impossible that the Gemara would not say so. And that which the Sages learned "fifteenth" - "fifteenth" from the festival of Pesach, this is not to teach you that he is obligated in any event to eat in a sukka on the first night, even in a situation of distress, for one who suffers distress is exempt. But only that where he does not suffer distress, he is obligated to eat [in a sukka] on the first night, but more than that he is not obligated, against Rabbi Eliezer. Know that this is true, for according to Rabbi Eliezer, a person is obligated to eat fourteen meals in the sukka. And both according to him and according to the Sages, day-time travelers are exempt during the day, and night-time travelers are exempt at night. And we do not find that they distinguish between the first night and the rest of the days and nights. And were this the case, they would surely say: When does this apply? On the other days. But on the first night he is obligated, for Scripture has established it as an obligation. Rather, he is certainly not obligated at all, for Scripture exempted him, from that which it states: "You shall dwell," from which we derive: "'You shall dwell' – similar to [normal] residence." And even night-watchmen over gardens and orchards are exempt from sukka at night. He who says they are obligated must bring proof. We have not heard or seen anything.

 

            The Ritva brings another important position in this context. The prevalent position is that the special obligation on this night relates specifically to eating, and in this context we raised the question whether we are dealing with eating as eating, or with eating as an expression of dwelling. But in any event it is clear that there is no special law governing the first night of Sukkot regarding the other aspects of dwelling. The Ritva, however, brings an interesting dispute in this context:

 

I heard in the name of one of the leading authorities of the generation in France that he requires a person to sleep in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot, even if it is raining. And [the Sages] only permitted a person to leave the sukka on the other days [of Sukkot] when it is [only] optional. But on the first night, Scripture established it as an obligation by way of a gezera shava of "fifteenth" – "fifteenth" from the festival of Pesach. But this is not correct at all according to what we have written that the obligation of the first night relates exclusively to eating, similar to the first night of Pesach, for the obligation regarding sleeping is not derived from there.

 

            It is clear that according to the leading authority of the generation cited by the Ritva, the obligatory mitzva of the fifteenth relates to the mitzva of dwelling in the sukka in its entirety, to the point that it may be applied even to realms that have no parallel on the night of Pesach.

 

            We shall conclude by relating to the customary practice of Chabad and other Chassidic sects, to continue eating in the sukka even when it is raining all seven days of the holiday. We shall try to defend this practice, by means of an argument developed in Responsa Eretz Tzvi (no. 98). As we have seen, eating in a sukka while it is raining cannot be seen as a fulfillment of dwelling, but there is room to see it as a fulfillment of eating. Thus, there are those who obligate doing so on the first night of Sukkot. Let us now refer back to the talmudic passage with which we opened this shiur. There is a certain redundancy in the sources for the Sages' position, regarding the nature of the mitzva of sukka all seven days: "'You shall dwell' – similar to normal residence," and the analogy to matza. It may be suggested that there are two separate obligating factors during the seven days of the festival. One is learned from "'You shall dwell' – similar to [normal residence]," which means that a person must turn his sukka into his dwelling place, and the practical expression of this is that if he eats, he must do so in the sukka. The second is derived by way of a gezera shava from matza, and it obligates eating, similar to matza. This obligation is at the level of an obligatory mitzva on the first night, and it may be suggested that similar to matza – according to the views of the Ba'al ha-Ma'or and the Vilna Gaon – it exists also on the rest of the days of the festival at the level of a "fulfillable" mitzva. According to this explanation, if on Chol ha-Mo'ed Sukkot a person eats in the sukka in the rain, while he does not fulfill thereby the mitzva of dwelling in a sukka, for this is not "similar to normal residence," he does fulfill the "fulfillable" mitzva of eating. It this context it is appropriate to cite the words of the Mishna Berura:

 

I have my doubts according to the known position of the Vilna Gaon that there is a mitzva to eat matza all seven days of Pesach, as is implied by the plain sense of the verse: "Seven days shall you eat matza," only that the positive commandment is only on the [first] night, but later it is just a plain ["fulfillable"] mitzva. It is possible that the same applies here that there is a mitzva lekhatchila to eat bread all seven days and to recite the blessing "to dwell in the sukka." (Mishna Berura 639:24)

 

            The Mishna Berura implies that he is not dealing with a lekhatchila obligation to try to fulfill the mitzva of dwelling in a sukka, but rather that he is raising the possibility that there exists a "fulfillable" mitzva of eating, similar to that of matza.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Unless otherwise specified references in this shiur to talmudic passages relate to tractate Sukka; and references to the Rambam and his supercommentaries relate to Hilkhot Shofar, Sukka and Lulav.

[2] Avnei Nezer, Orach Chayyim, no. 481.

[3] Minchat Chinukh, commandment 325, note 10.

[4] Atvan de-Orayta, rule 11.

[5] An interesting practical ramification was suggested by R. Chayyim Brisker. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 62b states that when one is mitasek be-chalavim ve-arayot – mistakenly eating forbidden fats (intending to take a permitted piece) or mistakenly engaging in an incestuous relationship (by mistaking the person) - he must bring a sin-offering, because he derives pleasure from his mistaken action. That is to say, there are certain laws which do not require the action of a person as a gavra, but rather they relate to his body as a cheftza. They are not subject to the law of mit'asek, which involves a severance between a person and his body (see Beit Yishai, no. 23. There are other explanations of this law as well.) The Rishonim (Rashi, Rosh ha-Shana 28a, and elsewhere) applied this law also to mitzvot, that one who eats matza as a mit'asek fulfills his obligation. Rav Chayyim suggested that this is not true about eating in a sukka, for we are not dealing with eating as eating, but rather as part of the act of dwelling – an act that clearly requires a person's involvement as a gavra.

[6] Regarding sleep, even irregular sleep is forbidden outside the sukka, though the Gemara explains this as stemming from a concern for a transition to regular sleep, or that "there is no regularity regarding sleep," that is to say, that "there is no difference between regular and irregular [sleep] regarding the sukka, for a peson does not regulate his sleep, for sometimes he merely dozes off a little and that suffices. Therefore this is his sleep" (Rashi, 26a). From here there is room to object to what the Rosh says in Berakhot: "Sleeping is more severe than eating, for one is permitted to eat an irregular meal outside a sukka, but irregular sleep outside a sukka is forbidden" (1, 13), for it would seem that this is not an expression of the severity of sleeping vis-a-vis eating.

[7] One possible practical ramification of this disagreement is whether or not there is an obligation to eat a bread-based meal on Yom Tov. Another possible ramification is whether or not there is an obligation to eat a third meal on Yom Tov.  This is based on the words of the Or Zaru'a (II, 52), who writes: "The reason for [eating] three meals is 'oneg.'" The Ritva on our passage, who disagrees with the Rashba and the Tosafot, writes: "Shabbat and Yom Tov are the same regarding the obligation to eat an olive-sized portion of bread in three meals." The Tur (Orach Chayyim 529), however, cites a disagreement on the issue: "And some say that one must eat [on Yom Tov] three meals. Thus writes the Rambam, of blessed memory, but my father the Rosh did not act in this manner." The rulings of the Shulchan Arukh, however, do not show consistency on these two points: "And one must honor and delight in it as on Shabbat… and one is obligated to break bread with two loaves and establish each meal over wine… But it is not customary to eat a third meal" (Orach Chayyim 529:1). It is possible that he understood that the obligation to eat a third meal is not based on "oneg," but rather a reminder of the manna, a double portion of which would fall on Friday. On Yom Tov, however, the manna would fall on the festival itself (see Beitza 2b, Tosafot, s.v. ve-haya). See also Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein's article in Alon Shevut 166, p. 11, who develops a different approach to this issue.

[8] The Meiri on our passage cites the view of the Ba'al ha-Ma'or in the name of the "one of the great Rishonim," and comments: "Nevertheless, regarding matza they offer no resolution." It stands to reason that regarding matza, the Ba'al ha-Ma'or would accept one of the other resolutions offered by the Rishonim, e.g., that indeed there is an obligation to eat a meal even during the day on the first day of Pesach and similarly at night and during the day on the seventh day of Pesach, but the Torah had to obligate the eating of matza on the first night of the festival so that we should eat matza that is shemura and not ashira.

[9] The Yerushalmi raises a question about this matter: "Rabbi Ze'ira asked: Do we say that just like there until he eats a matza in the amount of an olive, here too until he eats a grain product in a sukka in the amount of an olive."