Laws of Sukkos-Checklist

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The laws of a Kosher Sukkah:

  • Begin building the Sukkah on Motzei Yom Kippur. Complete the entire Sukkah the day after Yom Kippur, after Shacharis.
  • Verify that the area you desire to build the Sukkah does not contain any obstructions which will hover over the Sechach of the Sukkah. This includes trees, laundry lines, another neighbors Sechach, etc.
  • First build at least three complete walls that are ten Tefach high and within three Tefach from the ground and are seven Tefach wide. If using tarp for the walls, make sure to use “Lavud,” or to at least tie it very strongly.
  • Place Kosher Sechach on the walls only after the walls are built.
  • Don’t use Sechach that has bad odor or with leaves that will fall off.
  • Make sure the supports of the Sechach are also Kosher to be used as Sechach. Thus, don’t use nails or non-Kosher rope to attach the Sechach.
  • Make sure to fasten down the Sechach with Kosher material so it does not fly with the wind. One can place a wood board on top of the Sechach and then tie the wood board down with any material.
  • Verify the Sechach gives majority shade, allows rain and star light to penetrate.
  • Everyone should try to have their own Sukkah.
  • Don’t build the Sukkah in public property.
  • Try to personally build the Sukkah versus having someone else do so for you.
  • Do not have gentiles, women, or children, place the Sechach on the Sukkah. They may however build the walls.
  • Verify that all pictures and decorations are placed within 4 Tefachim from the Sechach. It is not the Chabad custom to place decorations.
  • The eating table of the Sukkah must be within the parameters of the Kosher Sukkah.

Leisheiv Basukkah-The Mitzvah of dwelling in a Sukkah:

  • Each time upon dwelling in the Sukkah have intention to dwell in the Sukkah for the sake of remembering the Exodus and the clouds of glory. The main idea is for one to contemplate this matter.
  • Male children above the age of 6 are to be educated to dwell in the Sukkah.
  • Make the Sukkah your permanent residence. This means one must eat, drink, read, learn, socialize, and simply spend time of relaxation [i.e. “Yitayel”] within the Sukkah throughout all seven days, both by night and day.
  • Eating and drinking in a Sukkah: According to the letter of the law one is only required to eat in the Sukkah if he is eating more than a Kibeitza of bread or Mezonos [within Kdei Achilas Pras]. All foods which do not carry the blessing of Mezonos or Hamotzi may be eaten outside the Sukkah without limitation, even if one sets a meal over those foods. However, one who is stringent to eat even these foods in the Sukkah is praised. The Chabad Minhag is not to eat or drink anything outside the Sukkah, including even water.
  • Kiddush: Kiddush is to be made inside the Sukkah. The blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah is said prior to drinking the wine. However, on the 1st night of Sukkos it is said before the blessing of Shehechiyanu, while on the 2nd night [in the Diaspora] it is said after the blessing of Shehechiyanu. [During the Kiddush of the day meal, the blessing of Leisheiv is said after the blessing of Hagafen, prior to drinking the wine.]
  • Havdalah: One is obligated to say Havdalah inside the Sukkah. One says the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah after Havdalah, prior to drinking from the wine.
  • Learning in the Sukkah: One must learn Torah inside the Sukkah unless he desires to learn in the Beis Midrash, or to learn outside under fresh air for greater understanding, or he does not have room to store his Sefarim in the Sukkah.
  • Davening in the Sukkah: One may Daven outside his Sukkah if he desires to Daven in Shul or if he cannot concentrate in the Sukkah.
  • Sleeping in the Sukkah: It is forbidden to sleep outside of a Sukkah even for a mere nap. The Chabad practice is not to sleep in the Sukkah due to an age-old custom of the Alter Rebbe, and due to the exemption of Mitztaer.
  • Items to enter into the Sukkah: One should enter his most beautiful vessels, tapestries, and drinking utensils into the Sukkah.
  • Pots, pans and plates are to be removed from the Sukkah after they are used being that they are repulsive, and it is belittling to the Sukkah. [The custom is not to enter pots into the Sukkah at all and rather the food is to be placed in a serving tray.]
  • Belittling acts in the Sukkah: One may not do any belittling acts inside the Sukkah.
  • The blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah: The blessing of ‘Leisheiv Basukkah’ is only said when eating a Kibeitza [55 grams] of Mezonos or Hamotzi [within Achilas Pras – 4 minutes]. It is not said prior to other actions of dwelling, such as a set drinking session, or spending time of leisure, or sleeping, in the Sukkah.
  • Every time one eats a Kibeitza of Mezonos or Hamotzi in the Sukkah he is to say a blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah, if there was an interval of two hours between the previous time he ate and the current eating.
  • The blessing of Leisheiv is recited after saying the blessing of the food, but prior to eating it.
  • The Rebbe’s custom is to look at Sechach upon saying Leisheiv.
  • If one forgot to recite Leisheiv Basukkah prior to eating he is to say it upon remembering even if he has already finished eating.
  • One must say the blessing of Leisheiv in every Sukkah that he eats a Kibeitza of Mezonos.
  • If one enters into someone else’s Sukkah in order to spend time of leisure, or in order to sleep in it, and he does not plan to eat a Kibeitza worth of Mezonos in that Sukkah, then he must say the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah prior to relaxing, or sleeping, in it.

The Laws of Daled Minim

  • Buy a set of Lulav and Esrog during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah. Some however write it is to be bought after Yom Kippur.
  • Every person is to have his own set of Daled Minim.
  • One is required to buy a set of Kosher Daled Minim on behalf of his [male] children.
  • Owning on first day: On the 1st day of Sukkos [in Eretz Yisrael and the first two days of Sukkos in the Diaspora as will be explained next] one must use a set of Daled Minim which he personally owns. Therefore, when using someone else’s Daled Minim one must receive it as a present on condition to return.
  • Children: On the first day of Sukkos in Eretz Yisrael, and the first two days of Sukkos in the Diaspora, one is not to give his personal Daled Minim as a present on condition to return to any child below the age of 13 for a boy and 12 for a girl, to fulfill the Mitzvah.
  • One may not buy any of the Daled Minim from a child under Bar Mitzvah, unless the child does not own the Daled Minim and is selling them on behalf of another person. If one already shook Daled Minim that was purchased from a Katan, then on the first day(s) one is to shake again without a blessing.
  • Shaking in Jerusalem: Some Poskim rule that according to some Rishonim the shaking of Daled Minim in certain areas of the old city of Jerusalem is a Biblical obligation for all seven days of the festival. Hence, when in the old city one is to use a set of Daled Minim that he owns, or receive it as a “Matana Al Menas Lehachzir”. Likewise, the Daled Minim are to fulfill all the validation criteria required for the first day, such as Chasar and the like.
  • Paying for the species after the holiday: One does not need to pay for the four species before Sukkos.
  • How many of each species is one to take: One may not use for the Mitzvah more than 1 Esrog, 1 Lulav, and 2 Aravos. However, one may add onto the 3 Hadassim. One should try to add at least 3 more Hadassim to the minimal three required [for a total of six Hadassim].
  • Water the Lulav, Hadassim and Aravos throughout the days of Sukkos.
  • Replace the Hadassim and Aravos as the days go on, in accordance to need. One is not to stick the new Hadassim and Aravos into the knot which binds the Minim to the Lulav, as this causes leaves to shear and can invalidate the branch.
  • On Yom Tov, don’t carry Daled Minim in an area without an Eiruv if it does not serve a need.
  • Throughout Sukkos one may not smell the Hadassim. One is to avoid smelling an Esrog even on Shabbos.

Binding the Lulav:

  • Bind the Lulav on Erev Sukkos inside the Sukkah. [The Rebbe would do so after midday.]
  • One is to personally bind the Lulav. Women and children are not to do so for a man’s Lulav.
  • The Chabad custom is not to use the Lulav pockets.
  • One makes two knots on the Lulav itself using Lulav leaves. One then places a Hadass on the right, left and center of the Lulav, placing the Aravos in between in an inconspicuous fashion. The Hadassim should cover over the 2 knots on the Lulav. One then binds three knots onto the Hadassim and Aravos, all three should be within the space of 1 handbreadth (8 centimeters). It is proper to bind the Hadassim and Aravos towards the bottom of the Lulav in order to also hold on to them when doing the mitzvah. If one did not do so, he has nevertheless fulfilled the Mitzvah.
  • The spine of the Lulav must reach at least one Tefach above the Hadassim/Aravos of the Lulav. The top of the spine is defined as the area where it begins to split into other leaves.

How to Bentch Lulav:

  • Awaken early in the morning to perform the Mitzvah of Daled Minim.
  • Do not eat before shaking the Lulav. If, however one will not be able to shake until after midday he should eat beforehand.
  • Shake the Lulav inside the Sukkah.
  • All the 4 Minim must be held top side up [the Esrog with its Pitum facing up].
  • A right-handed person holds the Lulav in his right hand and the Esrog in his left hand, while a left-handed person holds the Lulav in his left hand and the Esrog in his right hand. The exact order of when the Lulav and Esrog are lifted will be explained next.
  • The blessing process:
  1. One faces east [not specifically towards Jerusalem] throughout the blessing and shaking process.
  2. One takes hold of the Lulav in his right hand [if he’s right-handed, as explained above].
  3. The spine of the Lulav faces the person.
  4. The Esrog remains on the table and is not lifted until after the blessing. One then says the Bracha of Al Netilas Lulav and lifts the Esrog in his left hand [if he is right-handed as explained above. A lefty lifts the Esrog in his right hand]. On the first day of Sukkos one now says [after lifting the Esrog] the blessing of Shehechiyanu.
  5. One then adjoins the top third of the Esrog [thus having the Esrog in a slightly slanted position] with the Lulav/Hadassim and Aravos, towards its bottom. Throughout the shaking, one remains holding the Lulav in his right hand and the Esrog in his left hand [for one who is right-handed].
  6. One then shakes the Lulav with the adjoined Esrog three times in six different directions. One first shakes three times southeast [towards one’s right], then three times northeast [towards one’s left], then three times east [frontwards], three times up, three times down, and three times west.
  7. When shaking towards west, the first two times one shakes to southwest [towards one’s back on his right side] and then shakes it completely towards west.
  8. Throughout the shaking, the Esrog remains covered by one’s hand, until the last shake where one reveals the Esrog slightly.
  9. The Lulav remains facing upwards throughout all of the shakings. It is not to be turned upside down when one shakes it downwards.
  10. The Lulav is to be shaken after each Holacha [stretching away from the chest] prior to the Hovah [bringing back to the chest].

Kashrus of Lulav:

  • Its spine is at least 32cm. and will extend a Tefach past the Hadassim and Aravos.
  • Its Tiyomes is completely closed on its top.
  • The Tiyomes is double leafed from top to bottom.
  • The majority of the other leaves are majority closed.
  • The Tiyomes is not cut on its top.
  • The Lulav is not bent to any side. The Lulav is straight.
  • The leaves are not bent.
  • The Tiyomes is not dry.
  • Some prefer that the Lulav contain a Kara brown covering.

Kashrus of Esrog:

  • Verify there are no missing pieces anywhere from the Esrog.
  • Verify it does not have a broken Pitum.
  • Verify it does not have a broken Oketz.
  • Verify the Chotem is clean of a Chazazis or color change.
  • Bletlach are Kosher.
  • Verify that below the Chotem there is not two Chazazis, or two-color changes.
  • Verify if it came from Israel that it has a Hashgacha.
  • The color is to be completely yellow.

Kashrus of Hadassim:

  • It is at least 24 cm. long.
  • The first 24 cm from the top is completely Meshulash, or at the very least majority Meshulash.
  • The top is not cut off.
  • Remove random leaves.

Kashrus of Aravos:

  • It is at least 24 cm.
  • The first 24 cm from the top has all of its leaves, or at the very least majority.
  • The top is not cut off.

Erev Sukkos:

  • Increase in Tzedakah on Erev Sukkos.
  • Bake Challahs for Yom Tov in the honor of Yom Tov.
  • Cut the nails on Erev Sukkos in honor of Yom Tov.
  • Get a haircut on Erev Sukkos.
  • Prepare sweets for children in fulfilling Mitzvah of Simcha.
  • Buy wife jewelry or clothing for Simcha.
  • Do not eat a meal from the 10th hour of the day until the Yom Tov starts. This is approximately three hours before sunset. The above is only with regards to a set meal [i.e. 55 grams of bread] however it is permitted to eat a mere snack up until sunset and there is no need to refrain from doing so. If one transgressed or forgot and did not eat prior to the 10th hour, then on Erev Sukkos he may not eat a meal past the 10th
  • Bathe one’s body in hot wateron Erev Sukkos in honor of Yom Tov.
  • Whenever Sukkos falls on Thursday one performs an Eiruv Tavshilin on Erev Sukkos [Wednesday] in the Diaspora.
  • Bind the Lulav in the Sukkah. One should be meticulous to bind the Lulav himself as opposed to having someone else do it for him.
  • Verifying the validity of the Sukkah: Before leaving to Shul for Mincha on Erev Sukkos, one is to verify the validity of the Sukkah and confirm that everything is in order.
  • Candle lighting: One first lights the candles and then says the blessing of “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolam Asher Kidishanu Bimitzvosav Vetzivanu Lehadlik Neir Shel Yom Tov”. This blessing is then followed by the blessing of Shehechiyanu.
  • Light the candles prior to sunset at the same time that they are lit on Erev Shabbos.
  • The candles are to be lit within the Sukkah. If this is not possible [such as due to safety reasons] then one is to light inside.

The First day[s] of Yom Tov

  • Remind the family to have intention to dwell in the Sukkah for the sake of remembering the Exodus and the clouds of glory.
  • The Seder of Kiddush: Askinu, Hagafen, Asher Bachar Banu, Leisheiv, Shehechiyanu. The Rebbe’s custom is to look at Sechach upon saying Leisheiv.
  • Having in mind by Shehechiyanu: The Shehechiyanu is going on both the holiday and the Sukkah.
  • Dip Challah in honey: It is customary of some to dip the Challah in honey throughout all the Yom Tov [and Shabbos] meals through Simchas Torah.
  • Leisheiv Basukkah for the household: The household members who heard Kiddush are to say the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah after saying the blessing of Hamotzi.
  • How much to eat: One must eat over a Kibeitza of bread in the Sukkah on 1st and 2nd night [in the Diaspora]. One should try to eat before midnight.
  • Ushpizin: In addition to the company of Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov…. each night in ones Sukkah there is a tradition that the Chassidic Rabbeim also come to visit, starting with the Baal Shem Tov until the Rebbe Rashab. It is not our custom to say anything for the Ushpizin, however one should say a Dvar Torah mentioning the guest of that night.
  • Yaaleh Veyavo in Bentching: If one forgot Yaaleh Veyavo in Birchas Hamazon then by the first two meals of Yom Tov one is to repeat Birchas Hamazon.
  • Waking early for shaking Lulav: One is to awake early to fulfill the Mitzvah of Daled Minim especially on the first day of Sukkos.
  • Simchas Beis Hashoeiva: Simchas Beis Hashoeiva begins on the 1st night of Sukkos.
  • Hallel: The complete Hallel is recited throughout all 7 days of Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres. One holds on to Lulav during Hallel, and picks up also the Esrog only when it is needed to be shaken. We shake the Lulav a total of 4 times in Hallel. One who said a blessing on the Lulav before Hallel is only to shake the Lulav three times in Hallel, omitting the shaking in Ana Hashem.
  • Hoshanos: Immediately after Hallel, prior to Kaddish, it is customary to circle the Bimah one time holding on to the Lulav and Esrog. One is to hold the Lulav and Esrog in two separate hands, the Lulav in his right hand and the Esrog in his left.
  • One says the word Hoshana prior to each one of the words said for that day. Upon reaching the words upon which one begins to encircle, one is to say Hoshana prior and after each word. One places the Sefer Torah on the Bimah. One without a Lulav does not go around and rather holds on to the Sefer Torah.
  • Day Kiddush: Say Leisheiv Basukkah after Hagafen.
  • Havdalah: One says Havdalah in the Sukkah saying Leisheiv Basukkah. No candle or Besamim is used.

Chol Hamoed:

  • One Davens a regular weekday Shemoneh Esrei for Maariv, Shacharis and Mincha, although adding Yaaleh Veyavo to the prayer. If one forgot to recite Yaaleh Veyavo in Shemoneh Esrei he must repeat the prayer.
  • Throughout the eight/nine days of Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres, one is required to recite the complete Hallel with a blessing.
  • It is a Biblical command for one to rejoice, himself, his wife, his children and his entire household, throughout all days of Yom Tov, including Chol Hamoed.
  • A man is to drink a Revius of wine every day of Yom Tov, including Chol Hamoed.
  • Initially, it is a Mitzvah for one to have a meal with bread twice on Chol Hamoed, once by day and once by night.]
  • Recite the 6 Zechiros.
  • Eat and drink delicacies and do other forms of Simcha.
  • During Chol Hamoed, one recites Yaaleh Veyavo in Birchas Hamazon. If one forgot to recite it, he does not repeat Birchas Hamazon.
  • It is customary amongst Jewry to perform a joyous gathering of song and dance throughout the nights of the festival of Sukkos, in commemoration of the Simchas Beis Hashoeiva which was experienced in Temple times on this Holiday.
  • Many are accustomed to gather and visit Jerusalem during Sukkos, just as was done during Aliyah Laregel by Temple times.

Shabbos Chol Hamoed:

  • Read Haftorah of Shabbos Chol Hamoed on Erev Shabbos.
  • Hodu is omitted. Patach Eliyahu is recited.
  • One begins the Maariv prayer from Mizmor Ledavid.
  • In Lecha Dodi, the wording of Besimcha instead of Berina is recited.
  • The following passages prior to Kiddush are read in an undertone: Shalom Aleichim, Eishes Chayil, Mizmor Ledavid Hashem Ro’i, Da hi Se’udasa.
  • Hoshanos is not recited on Shabbos Chol Hamoed.

Hoshana Rabbah:

  • Slightly increase in candles on Hoshana Rabbah just as is done on Yom Kippur.
  • It is a custom of Jewry to remain awake throughout the entire night of Hoshana Rabbah.
  • One reads the entire Sefer Devarim [prior to midnight], followed by reading the entire Sefer Tehillim [after midnight], and passages from the Zohar selected in the Tikkun.
  • After the Tikkun, one eats an apple dipped in honey in the Sukkah. Prior to eating the apple dipped in honey one washes his hands the same way one washes for bread, but without a blessing.
  • Those who are meticulous immerse in a Mikvah before dawn.
  • Some Poskim rule that marital relations are to be avoided on the night of Hoshana Rabbah.
  • One is to abstain from mundane activity until after leaving Shul [after Shacharis].
  • It is proper to add in charity on Hoshana Rabbah in order to sweeten the Gevuros.
  • The knots are removed from the top part of the Lulav [by the spine] prior to Hallel.
  • One is to take a set of five Aravos and purchase a set of Hoshanos for each family member.
  • The custom is to bind the Aravos together using Lulav leaves.
  • After finishing all the Hakafos and reciting the additional prayer of Hoshanos over water, one hits the Aravos five times on the ground.
  • One must be very careful to never join the Aravos to the Lulav anytime.
  • The custom of the Chabad Rabbeim was to gently “whip” their sons with the Hoshana branches.
  • In Eretz Yisrael, one reads Shnayim Mikra Viechad Targum of Parshas Vezos Habracha on Hoshanah Rabbah.
  • It is customary to hold a festive meal after the conclusion of the prayers.
  • Customarily, one dips the bread in honey during the meal.
  • The custom is to eat kreplach during the meal.
  • One is to refrain from beginning a meal [of bread] past the 10th hour of the day.
  • Mincha is the last time that Ledavid Uri is said.
  • In Eretz Yisrael, with the approach of sunset on the afternoon of Hoshanah Rabbah, one enters the Sukkah (and eats or drinks something there) to bid it farewell.

Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah

  • The blessing of Shehechiyanu is recited during candle lighting of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah.
  • Time is very precious-Dance!
  • Seder at night: Regular Yom Tov Maariv is followed by Kaddish Shaleim and then Farbrengen. Then Ata Hareisa is recited three times, which is followed by Hakafos, and then Aleinu.
  • Does one still eat in the Sukkah? On Shemini Atzeres outside Eretz Yisrael one eats and drinks in the Sukkah but without a Blessing. In Eretz Yisrael: One does not eat in the Sukkah.
  • Kiddush: On the night of Simchas Torah it is customary for all men to say Kiddush on their own. In the Diaspora, there is no need for each person to make their own kiddush on the night of Shemini Atzeres.
  • Drink wine by meal.
  • On Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah one does not dip the bread of Hamotzi in honey.
  • Hakafos: One dances Hakafos on both nights with extreme joy. The Rebbe Rashab said that one draws down abundance of physical and spiritual blessing through the joy of dancing by Hakafos.
  • One should increase the amount of lights in the Shul in honor of the Sifrei Torah that are removed for Hakafos.
  • During the recital of Kerias Shema Al Hamita on the night of Simchas Torah, one is to make a resolution to spread Torah with Mesirus Nefesh.
  • Marital relations are initially avoided on Simchas Torah.
  • In the Diaspora, Hakafos is not done on Shemini Atzeres day.
  • Yizkor is said on Shemini Atzeres.
  • Announce Mashiv Haruach before Musaf of Shemini Atzeres. However, Vesein Tal Umatar is only said from the 7th of Cheshvan in Israel, and from the 5th/6th of December in the Diaspora.
  • On the eve of Simchas Torah [i.e. Shemini Atzeres in the Diaspora; Hoshana Rabbah in Eretz Yisrael] one is to read the Parsha of Vezos Habracha, Shnayim Mikra V’echad Targum.
  • In the Diaspora, with the approach of sunset on the afternoon of Shemini Atzeres one enters the Sukkah (and eats or drinks something there) to bid it farewell.
  • One may not prepare on the 1st day of Yom Tov on behalf of the 2nd day.
  • On Simchas Torah, one does not eat or sleep in the Sukkah.
  • The Simchas Torah day Davening: Kaddish Shaleim after Hallel, followed by Kiddush, followed by Ata Hareisa and Hakafos. After the conclusion of Hakafos, Ata Hareisa for Kerias Hatorah is recited, as well as Vayehi Binsoa and the thirteen Middos. Nesias Kapayim is only done by Shacharis. It is done with the same Niggun usually done by Musaf.
  • The day Hakafos: During the day of Simchas Torah, the custom is to only perform 3.5 circles around the Bimah as opposed to seven. Nevertheless, all seven liturgies of Hakafos is read. Thus, one reads a single Hakafa for every half circle of the Bimah, for a total of seven half circles corresponding to the reading of the seven Hakafos. All 3.5 circles of Hakafos are performed consecutively without dancing in between or placing Sefer Torah back in Aron or even announcing “Ad Kan Hakafa…”. After the conclusion of the 3.5 circles the congregation dances. At the conclusion, the Sefer Torah is returned to the Aron without saying anything.
  • It is customary for each man to get an Aliyah on Simchas Torah.
  • For Kol Hanearim one person is to say a blessing on behalf of all the children. We do not spread a Tallis over the children.

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