When to build the Sukkah:
The ideal time:
Motzei Yom Kippur: On Motzei Yom Kippur one begins building the Sukkah, [or at least talking about building it], in order to leave one Mitzvah and enter to another Mitzvah.
To build the Sukkah the day after Yom Kippur: It is a Mitzvah [if possible] to [finish] building the entire Sukkah the day after Yom Kippur, immediately after one leaves [and arrives home from] Shul. [However, one should not compromise on the quality of the work simply in order to complete it by that day, and if he must delay the building until the next day/s for the sake of bettering its quality then it may be done.]
May one build his Sukkah on Erev Sukkos or on Erev Shabbos before Sukkos?
Until midday: It is permitted even initially to build the Sukkah on Erev Shabbos, or Erev Sukkos, up until midday.
Past midday-before Mincha Ketana: Some Poskim rule that one may only build his Sukkah up until midday [i.e. Mincha Gedola] of Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov. [Thus, in years that there is a Shabbos between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, one is to stop building his Sukkah by midday, and he is annually to make sure that his Sukkah is fully built by midday of Erev Sukkos.] However, other Poskim rule that he may be lenient to continue building the Sukkah until Mincha Ketana, which is 2.5 hours before sunset. Practically, one is to initially try to have his Sukkah built by midday, although one who chooses may be lenient to do so up until Mincha Ketana. Certainly, if on Erev Sukkos the Sukkah has not yet been built, it may be built even past midday.
Past Mincha Ketana: It is forbidden to build the Sukkah past the time of Mincha Ketana on Erev Shabbos. However, on Erev Sukkos, if it is already past 2.5 hours before sunset and one has still not built his Sukkah, it may still be built up until the start of Yom Tov. It is permitted on Erev Shabbos to have the Sukkah built through a gentile even past the time of Mincha Ketana.
On Erev Shabbos before Sukkos, what takes precedence; preparing food for Shabbos or building the Sukkah?
On Erev Shabbos, one is to first busy himself with preparing the Shabbos foods, and only afterwards deal with the building of the Sukkah.
- The law if one did not build it before Yom Tov:
It is forbidden to build a Sukkah on Shabbos and Yom Tov due to the Biblical building prohibition.
Building a Sukkah on Chol Hamoed: One who did not build a Sukkah before the Holiday is to build his Sukkah on Chol Hamoed and dwell in it. This applies whether one did not build his Sukkah due to negligence or due to no fault of his own. This applies even at the end of the seventh day of Sukkas [i.e. Hoshana Rabbah], nevertheless he is obligated to build a Sukkah in order to dwell in the Sukkah for the remaining moments.
Q&A regarding Shabbos and Yom Tov
If on Shabbos or Yom Tov the Sechach blew off due to wind, may it be replaced?
No. It is forbidden for a Jew to replace the Sechach on Shabbos or Yom Tov. This applies even if only part of the Sechach blew off or folded over, nevertheless one may not spread it back onto the Sukkah [even with a Shinuiy]. [Likewise, seemingly one may also not place non-Kosher material over the now empty space for the sake of achieving Dofen Akuma and making the Sukkah valid.] However, [if there is no other Sukkah available then] one may ask a gentile to replace the Sechach for him even if the entire Sukkah fell.
 Rama 624:5
Ruling of Admur: Vetzaruch Iyun as to why this was omitted by Admur.
Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule one is to build the Sukkah before Yom Kippur in order so its Mitzvah becomes included in one’s verdict for the coming year. Others arbitrate that the walls are to be built before Yom Kippur while the Sechach is placed after Yom Kippur. [Shaareiy Teshuvos]
 Sefer Haminhagim p. 59; Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 255; Aruch Hashulchan 624:7; Kaf Hachaim 624:35
 Admur 625:1; Rama 625; Maharil Hilchos Sukkah; M”A 625:1; M”B 625:2
 M”B 625:2
 M”B 625:2 based on Rama 624:5 who writes that the start of the building is to take place on Motzei Yom Kippur
 The reason: The reason for this is because one is not to delay the performance of a Mitzvah which he has the ability to fulfill. [Admur ibid; Rama ibid; Maharil ibid; See Mechilta Bo 9]
 Mateh Efraim 624:15; Piskeiy Teshuvos 625:3
 See Piskeiy Teshuvos 625:4
 P”M 625; M”B 625:2; Mateh Efrayim 625:9 regarding Baal Nefesh; So rule regarding Melacha on Erev Shabbos: 1st opinion in Michaber 251:1; 1st opinion in Admur 251:2 regarding Melacha on Erev Shabbos and from his final ruling it is evident that there is room to be stringent; Mordechai and Tur, and so rules the Bach and Levush
 Mateh Efrayim 625:9; Bikureiy Yaakov 625:5; So rule regarding Melacha on Erev Shabbos: 2nd opinion in Michaber 251:1; 2nd opinion in Admur 251:2 and final ruling that one may be lenient by a dispute regarding a Rabbinical prohibition; Admur 256:1; Taz 251:1 one who is lenient does not lose; Magen Avraham 251:4; Rashi; Ketzos Hashulchan [69:6
 See conclusion of Admur 251:1 that one who is lenient does not lose the Siman Bracha
 Admur 251:2; Michaber 251:1
 See Mateh Efraim 625:28; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
The reason: As a) It is for the need of Yom Tov, and B) It is for the sake of a Mitzvah. Vetzaruch Iyun from the wording or Mateh Efrayim and M”B ibid, although perhaps they were merely referring to by what time should one plan to have it built by, and not bedieved if one did not yet do so.
 P”M 625 A”A 1
 Kaf Hachaim 624:35; Pesach Hadvir 3:250; Piskeiy Teshuvos 625:4
 M”B 637:1; See Meged Yehuda on 1 on Shut Magidos 109 that there is a debate in the Poskim as to whether the building prohibition is Biblical or Rabbinical on Yom Tov; See P”M 315 A”A 2 [Biblical]; Ateres Chachamim 6 and Beir Yitzchak 13 [Rabbinical]
 Admur 637:1; Michaber 637:1; Rambam Sukkah 6:15; Chachamim in Sukkah 27b; Taz 637:1; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 638:3
Other opinions in Talmud: Rebbe Eliezer is of the opinion that the Sukkah must be built before Sukkos, otherwise it is invalid. [See Sukkah ibid]
 The reason: Now, although the verse [Devarim 16:13] states that one is to build his Sukkah [to dwell in it] for seven days, the intent is not that one has to make a Sukkah that is fit to be dwelled in for seven days, and is hence coming to exclude building the Sukkah on Chol Hamoed being that there are no longer seven days remaining for one to dwell in it. Rather, the intent of the verse is that one is to build the Sukkah throughout any of the seven days. Thus, if one did not build it [before] the first day he is to build it on the second day. [Admur ibid] Likewise, one is not required to live within the Sukkah for seven days to fulfill the Mitzvah and rather even if he remains within the Sukkah for only part of the time, he fulfills the Mitzvah.
 See Kaf Hachaim 637:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 626:10; Nitei Gavriel 62:16; 18:7-8
 P”M 630 A”A 19; Shut Magidos of P”M 109; M”B 637:1 in name of Pischeiy Olam 637:2 in name of Shoel Umeishiv Reviah 3:25; See Admur 315:1; Michaber 315:1; Shabbos 125b
The reason: This is forbidden due to both the Ohel and Muktzah prohibition.
 M”B ibid; Pischeiy Olam ibid; Shoel Umeishiv ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid
The reason: It is forbidden to replace the Sechach due to the Ohel prohibition. [See Kaf Hachaim ibid] Now, although it is permitted to add to an already established Ohel of a Tefach, this only applies by a temporary addition, however the addition of Sechach during Sukkos for the sake of a Mitzvah is considered permanent. [See Meged Yehuda on Shut Magidos 3 of P”M 109]
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that if there remains a Tefach of Sechach that was no blown off, then one may replace it with a Shinuiy. [Nitei Gavriel 18:8; Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol how he ignored all the above Poskim!]
 Shut Magidos of P”M 109 [See also P”M 626 A”A 8]; Kaf Hachaim ibid; Nitei Gavriel ibid; Omitted from M”B ibid, Beir Yitzchak 13
 Implication of P”M 630 A”A 19 regarding Yom Tov, brought [and negated] in Kaf Hachaim ibid [unlike P”M 626 A”A 8]; Shut Magidos of P”M 109 regarding even Shabbos; Birkeiy Yosef 626:11; Lev Chaim 2:109; Pischeiy Olam ibid in name of Beir Yitzchak 13; Bikureiy Yaakov 626:11; Ateres Chachamim 6; M”B ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Nitei Gavriel ibid; See Admur 586:24; 594:2 and Chapter 3 Halacha 4
Other opinions: Some opinions question the allowance to even ask a gentile to do it on Shabbos or Yom Tov, due to the prohibition of Amirah Lenachri, as perhaps the placing of Sechach on the Sukkah is a Biblical prohibition. [P”M 626 A”A 8; Kaf Hachaim ibid] Other Poskim rule that it is only permitted on Yom Tov and not on Shabbos. [See Beis Yitzchak ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]
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