May women and children help build a Sukkah

May women or children help build the Sukkah?[1]

The building of a Sukkah is a fun activity, and great Mitzvah that many enjoy doing each year. Nonetheless, just as there are various laws associated with the validity of a Sukkah, so too regarding its construction. Only men are obligated in the Mitzvah of Sukkah, as opposed to women or children. This is similar to many other Mitzvas which men are obligated in, and women are exempt, such as Tzitzis and Tefillin. The question therefore arises as to whether women and children may help build the Sukkah, despite being exempt from the Mitzvah, or if perhaps the Sukkah must be built by those who are obligated in the Mitzvah for it to be valid. Now, although it is a clear ruling in the Talmud[2] and Poskim[3] that the Sukkah of a woman is valid, the question remains as to whether this is only after the fact, or if even initially, she may assist in building the Sukkah. The following is the law:

Walls:[4] Women and children may help build the walls of the Sukkah, even initially.

Schach: Some Poskim[5] rule that women and children[6] are not initially to place the Sechach on the Sukkah.[7] This applies even if an adult male Jew supervises them during the placing of the Schach and tells them do it for the sake of the Mitzvah.[8] Practically, it is best to initially be stringent like this opinion.[9] However, in the event that a woman or child placed the Sechach on the Sukkah, the Sukkah is deemed valid and a blessing may be recited over it.[10]

 

Summary:

Women and children may help build the walls of the Sukkah even initially, however, are not to initially place the Schach over the Sukkah, and it is rather to be placed by an adult Jew who is obligated in the Mitzvah. Nonetheless, if they did so, the Sukkah remains valid.

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[1] See Nitei Gavriel 25

[2] Sukkah 8b “Ganbach Sukkah..Nashim…Mikol Makom Kesheira”

[3] Michaber 635:1

[4] Bikureiy Yaakov 635:2

[5] M”A 14:3; Bikureiy Yaakov 635:2; Chochmas Shlomo 14 and 635 that it is best to be stringent; Biur Halacha 14 “Lehatzrich Anashim”; Ruach Chaim; Kaf Hachaim 635:8; Binyan Shlomo 43; Shevet Halevi 1:166; Nitei Gavriel 25:1; So rule regarding Tzitzis: Second opinion in Admur 14:2; Rama 14/1; Hagahos Maimanis in name of Maharam; Rabbeinu Tam in Gittin 45b, brought in Taz 14/1 regarding women; M”A 14/3 and Admur add the same applies to children.

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that women and children may even initially place the Schach on the Sukkah. [Avnei Nezer 475; Chochmas Shlomo ibid; Kesav Sofer 69; Igros Moshe 4:40-3; See First and Stam opinion in Admur ibid; Michaber 14/1; Tosafus Menachos 42a; Rosh Tzitzis 13]

[6] Poskim ibid; So rules regarding Tzitzis: Admur ibid and M”A 14/3 add that according to Rabbeinu Tam the same rule applies to children; Aruch Hashulchan 14/7; Kaf Hachaim 14/4; Conclusion of Biur Halacha 14 “Lehatzrich” in name of Peri Megadim and Derech Hachaim

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that even according to Rama/Rabbeinu Tam it is permitted to have male children tie the Tzitzis, and only women were excluded. [Artzos Hachaim 14/1, brought in M”B 14/4; Kesav Sofer 1; Maharsham 8/7; Daas Torah 14; Meishiv Davar 1/47]

[7] The reason: As the Sukkah must be built by a person that is obligated in the Mitzvah. This is similar to the rule regarding Tefillin; that women are invalid to write Tefillin scrolls being that they are not obligated to wear them, as written in 39/1. The same would apply by Tzitzis, that since women are not obligated to wear Tzitzis therefore they are invalid to tie Tzitzis to the Tallis. [Admur ibid; M”A ibid; Rabbeinu Tam ibid] The same would apply by Sukkah, that since women are not obligated to dwell in a Sukkah, therefore they are invalid to build the Sukkah. [”A 14:3; Bikureiy Yaakov 635:2; Chochmas Shlomo 635; Kaf Hachaim 635:8]

[8] So rule regarding Tzitzis: Admur ibid; Kuntrus Achron 14/1 based on M”A ibid

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the Sukkah is valid if the woman or child were supervised and told to place the Schach for the sake of the Mitzvah. [Avnei Nezer 475; Nitei Gavriel 25:1 footnote 4 in name of Poskim]

[9] So rule regarding Tzitzis: Admur 14:2; Rama ibid; There Admur rules one is to initially avoid having women or children make Tzitzis being they are not obligated in the Mitzvha. This is the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam recorded in Rama 14:1 as explained in M”A 14:3. The M”A there concludes that this same law applies by all Mitzvahs including “Lulav and Sukkah”. So brings also Biur Halacha 14 “Lehatzrich Anashim” that it applies likewise to Sukkah.

[10] Michaber 635:1; Sukkah 8b; Implication of Admur and Rama ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 14 footnote 10; Nitei Gavriel 25:4

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