SALT - Thursday, Chol Ha-moed Sukkot, 18 Tishrei 5779 - September 27, 2018

  • Rav David Silverberg
            Yesterday, we noted the surprising and novel ruling of Rabbeinu Avigdor, cited by the Shibolei Ha-leket (344), qualifying the principle allowing the consumption of small amounts of food outside the sukka on Sukkot.  As the Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 639:2) rules, this refers to amounts up to a ke-beitza (the volume of an egg).  This exemption is mentioned explicitly by the Mishna (Sukka 25a), but Rabbeinu Avigdor asserted that it applies only on the weekdays during Sukkot.  On the first day of Sukkot (or first two days outside Eretz Yisrael), and on Shabbat of Sukkot, the consumption of even small amounts of food is considered significant given the requirement to feast on Shabbat and Yom Tov.  Just as Halakha regards eating small amounts on Shabbat and Yom Tov as significant with respect to tithing (as explained yesterday), with respect to the sukka obligation, too, even small amounts are significant on Shabbat and Yom Tov, and must be eaten in the sukka.
 
            Rav Yitzchak Nunez Belmonte, in his Sha’ar Ha-melekh commentary to the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Sukka 6:7), notes that this view appears to have been taken also by Tosefot, commenting to Masekhet Berakhot (49b).  Tosefot there address the Gemara’s ruling in Masekhet Sukka (27a) that the first night of Sukkot differs from the rest of the festival in that one is required to eat a meal in the sukka on the first night.  During the rest of Sukkot, when we wish to eat a meal we must do so in the sukka; on the first night, however, we are obligated to eat a meal in the sukka.  The Gemara establishes the unique requirement of the first night of Sukkot based on the association between Sukkot and Pesach: just as the Torah requires eating matza on the first night of Pesach, similarly, the Torah requires eating a meal in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot.  Tosefot (among others) raise the question of why the Gemara ignores in this context the general halakhic obligation to eat a meal on Yom Tov.  Irrespective of the association between Sukkot and Pesach, there is a mitzva to eat a meal on Yom Tov, and thus on Sukkot, when all meals must be eaten in the sukka, we are naturally required to eat a meal in the sukkaTosefot answer that indeed, we are in any event required to eat a meal in the sukka on the first day of Sukkot because it is a Yom Tov, but the Gemara establishes that additionally, the association between Sukkot and Pesach imposes the separate requirement to eat a meal on the first night of Sukkot that is independent of the general obligation to eat a meal on Yom Tov.  However, Tosefot then raise the question as to the practical difference between these two requirements.  Why did the Gemara bother establishing the special obligation to eat a meal in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot, when in any event there is an obligation to eat a meal on Yom Tov?
 
            Seemingly, the Sha’ar Ha-melekh notes, the answer to Tosefot’s question should be obvious.  The obligation to eat a Yom Tov meal can be fulfilled with the quantity of a ke-zayit (the volume of an olive) of a bread, whereas the special obligation to eat a meal in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot requires eating considerably more – an amount exceeding a ke-beitza.  As mentioned, the sukka obligation requires eating in the sukka only meals consisting of this large amount of bread.  Thus, if the Torah requires eating a meal in the sukka on the first night of the holiday, it stands to reason that it requires eating an amount that throughout Sukkot must be eaten in the sukka.  Hence, the special requirement that applies on the first night of Sukkot requires eating more than a ke-beitza on this night, beyond the ke-zayit amount required on every Shabbat and Yom Tov.
 
            Notably, Tosefot do not present this answer.  Instead, they explain that the difference between the two obligations surfaces in a case where rain fell on the first night of Sukkot, and one ate his meal indoors, after which the rain stopped.  In such a case, one has fulfilled his obligation to eat a Yom Tov meal, but he did not eat a meal in the sukka, and so he would be required to eat a second time, in the sukka.
 
            Apparently, the Sha’ar Ha-melekh writes, Tosefot felt that both obligations on the first night of Sukkot require eating only a ke-zayit.  Although in general a sukka is required only when eating a larger amount, Tosefot appear to have felt – like Rabbeinu Avigdor – that even the amount of a ke-zayit requires a sukka on Yom Tov (and, presumably, on Shabbat).  Given the special importance of eating on Yom Tov, even smaller amounts are deemed halakhically significant and thus require a sukka.
 
            The Sha’ar Ha-melekh concedes, however, that this stringency is not mentioned by the halakhic authorities, and thus does not seem to represent the consensus view.