From the Rav’s Desk: : 1) Drinking when traveling to Rebbe; 2) Source for hitting children with Aravos; 3) Getting drunk on Simchas Torah

  1. Question: [Sunday 21st Tishreiy 5781]

I am flying to New York for Simchas Torah. What should I do regarding eating and drinking on the plane?



You may choose to eat and drink freely while on the plane. Nevertheless, it is praiseworthy and an act of piety to be meticulous even in such a case and avoid even drinking until one enters a Sukkah.  Nevertheless, if this will cause one to fast past midday then he is to drink or eat something.

Explanation: One is exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah while traveling, and hence there is no issue with him eating and drinking freely while flying. Nonetheless, the Poskim record from a story with Rav Huna in the Yerushalmi that is an act of piety to not eat and drink even when traveling until one enters a sukkah. Practically, it is one’s choice whether to be stringent or be lenient, and is dependent on one’s state of health and energy if he doesn’t eat. Nonetheless, even one who desires to be stringent may not fast until midday, and hence he must either drink or eat something before hand even if he is outside of the sukkah.

Sources: See Admur 64015-18; Sukkos 26a and 47a; M”A 640:15; Rav Huna in Yerushalmi; Levushei Serud on M”A 640:17; Kaf Hachaim 640:81


  1. Question: [Sunday 21st Tishreiy 5781]

You have written in your summary of laws that it is a public directive for a father to hit his child with the Aravos of Hoshanos? I never heard of this before, would you mind please providing a source.



While indeed this is what we wrote in the original article based on a letter of the previous Rebbe, after further deliberation, I would fix the sentence to read It is possible to understand that this custom is to be followed also by the public,” rather than unequivocally state it as a definite directive, as indeed the Rabbeim never used this exact language and our conclusion was simply derived from the source brought there. [The common legal term for this in Halachic literature is “Hifriz Al Hamida,” and therefore agree that the wording should be modified.]

Explanation: Naturally, our summaries are meant to be concise and therefore omit any extra material including footnotes which contain the sources of the statements. To see the sources behind the laws written in the summary, please refer to our main article on our website on the subject, or open to that section of our book in the laws of Sukkos. Regarding your specific question, as we explained there, the source behind the general custom of the Rabbeim to hit her sons lightly using the willow branch of Hoshanos is taken from a talk of the Rebbe Rayatz. Now, our determination that this matter is a directive to the public, rather than a mere custom of Beis Harav, is based on a letter that the Rebbe Rayatz wrote to his daughters and son in laws and grandson in which he unequivocally states this as a classical Jewish custom, in his words, “B”H, Hoshanah Raba 5690, My daughter Chanah, Chayah Mushkah, Shayna, and my son in-law Menachem Mendel, my grandson Shalom Dovber, Today is Hoshanah Raba and the custom is that the father hits the children with the Aravos, and blesses them that they should not know of any more smites throughout the year, and be happy spiritually and physically. I am now after Davening, and I did in my room as if you my children were standing next to me” In general, when a Chabad Rebbe states that the custom is to do such and such, it becomes a public directive, or at least a custom followed by the public, although there are exceptions to this rule. One could however potentially argue, that the above letter was referring to the Rebbe Rayatz’s personal custom and not that of all general fathers, and hence explain why in the public talk he specified it as a custom of the Beis Harav [even though on this latter point one can argue he was referring to all the details of the custom and not the general custom]. It also remains to be understood why none of this was mentioned in Sefer Haminhagim, not even as a custom of Beis Harav, and perhaps the reason for this is because it is not specifically a Chabad practice. Indeed, we find in the customs of Algerian and Moroccan Jewry, that the fathers would bring home their Aravos and lightly hit their family members with it, wishing them a good year. Whatever the case, I see nothing wrong with people adapting this custom, and it is similar to many other customs that were followed on the last day of Sukkos for the sake of joy, as brought in the Mishnah in Sukkos.

Sources: See Sefer Hasichos 5705 p. 52; Igros Kodesh Rayatz [in letter to Rebbe] 15:67; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 238; Reshimos Hayoman p. 266; Source for custom in non-Chabad literature: Nahagu Yisrael end of last chapter; Alei Hadas [Minhagei Algeria] p. 543; Or Shivas Hayamim p. 54 as custom of Morrocan Jewry; Sefer Moadim Lesimcha p. 446; Source of Minhagei Simcha on Hoshanah Raba: Sukkah 4:7


  1. Question: [Sunday 21st Tishreiy 5781]

Is it permitted for one to get drunk on Simchas Torah?



While the old age custom of Jewry was for men to increase in drinking alcohol on Simchas Torah, practically, based on directives of the Rebbe, and based on common sense and experience, this should only be done in a limited fashion, with those below the age of 40 making sure not to drink more than a Revius of alcohol and those above age 40, to limit their drinking to their capability of them still being able to act and behave appropriately, and those who know themselves to have a history of losing control of their hands and or mouth when they drink, must avoid drinking altogether on all days of the year, including Simchas Torah and even Purim, irrelevant of age. Upashut! Those minority of Chabad Chassidim who are below age 40 and get drunk are going against an explicit directive of our Rebbe which is binding on all Chabad Chassidim, even if they can control their alcohol. The Gabbaim of each shul should take guard of the alcohol, and not allow the great Simcha of Simchas Torah to become one of expression of people’s personal misgivings accompanied with Holelus, Leitzanus, vulgar speech, public indecency and of physical altercation, which is often traumatic for those who witness these events, especially the children.

Sources: See regarding the custom of drinking alcohol on Simchas Torah: Rama 669:1; M”B 669 Hakdama; Sefer Hasichos 5682 p. 28; 5702 p. 13; Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 370; See regarding Nesias Kapayim: Levush 669; M”B 669:17; See regarding the decree of the Rebbe: Shemini 1963; Balak 1964; Shmini 1964; Yud Beis Tamuz 1965; Noach 1927; Naso 1968; Shavuos 1968; Dvarim 1980; 13th Nissan 1982; Ki Sisa 1984; Balak 1984; Mikeitz 1985; 12th Teves 1987; Vayakhel 1988; Ki Seitzei 1988; Hisvadyos 1991 Vol. 4 p. 298; See Otzer Minhagei Chabad ibid and Adar 211-214; Kuntrus of “Gezeiras Hamashkeh Bepurim” by Rav Nachmonson; See regarding Simchas Torah: Sichos Kodesh 1965 2 p. 241 “….and Simchas Torah”; Sichos Kodesh 1977 p. 687; See Hiskashrus 189; Heichal Menachem 3:258; Otzer ibid 214


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