The Mitzvah of dwelling in a Sukkah:
A. The Mitzvah:
- The Torah commands us to dwell in a Sukkah for seven days from the 15th of Tishrei through the 21st of Tishrei. This Mitzvah is a positive Biblical command and is fulfilled every moment that one dwells in the Sukkah.
- The reason behind the Mitzvah: The verse states that the reason Hashem commanded us to dwell in a Sukkah is in order “Lemaan Yeidu Doroseichem Ki Besukkos Hoshavti Es Bnei Yisrael Behotzi Osam Me’eretz Mitzrayim.” This refers to the clouds of glory [Ananei Hakavod] which Hashem surrounded us with for the sake of shade, so we are not exposed to heat waves and the sun. In replica of this, Hashem commanded us to make Sukkos for the sake of shade, in order so we recall the miracles and wonders [he performed for us in the desert].
- No quarrels in home: One who is careful in the Mitzvah of Sukkah, and makes it properly, is guaranteed to not suffer from quarrels and fights amongst his household for the entire year.
- May one eat and drink in the Sukkah on Erev Sukkos? Yes.
- Kissing the Sukkah: Some are accustomed to also kiss the Sukkah upon entering and exiting to show their belovedness of the Mitzvah.
B. The Kavana when dwelling in the Sukkah:
- The reason G-d commanded us to dwell in a Sukkah is so we recall the miracles and wonders done for us in the desert, in which the clouds of glory surrounded us for shade, as protection from the sun. Thus, every person must have in mind when dwelling in a Sukkah, that he is dwelling in it in order to fulfill G-d’s command to sit in a Sukkah in commemoration of the Exodus. [One is to think of the exodus, the clouds of glory, and the general miracles and wonders that Hashem performed for us. It does not suffice to merely think about the exodus in passing thought, but rather the main point is for one to contemplate it.]
- If one did not have the above Kavana upon dwelling in the Sukkah, does he fulfill his obligation? Some Poskim rule that one who does not have the above-mentioned intent upon dwelling in the Sukkah, does not fulfill the Mitzvah. Other Poskim rule that although one has certainly not fulfilled the command properly, nonetheless, he does fulfill his obligation.
- Prior to fulfilling any Mitzvah, one must intend to perform it in order to fulfill the command of Hashem. One who dwells in a Sukkah without even this intent, does not fulfill the Mitzvah at all.
- Must one have this intent every time he dwells in the Sukkah? Yes. Each time one eats in the Sukkah, and fulfills the Mitzvah of dwelling in the Sukkah, he is to intend to fulfill the Mitzvah for the above-mentioned reason of commemorating the exodus.
C. Who is obligated:
- Women: Women are exempt from dwelling in the Sukkah. However, if a woman desires to dwell in the Sukkah, she may do so. [Unlike the Mitzvah of Lulav and Shofar, women did not accept upon themselves the Mitzvah of Sukkah, and it hence remains completely optional. Nonetheless, it is a Mitzvah on the husband to have his family, wife and daughters join him in the Sukkah so he fulfills the Mitzvah of dwelling just like in his home, and have them merit the holiness of the Sukkah.]
- The blessing: A woman [of Ashkenazi origin] who dwells in a Sukkah may choose to recite a blessing prior to doing so, just as a man recites prior to performing the Mitzvah. If, however, a woman does not know how to say the blessing, then a man who already said the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah on his own behalf, may not repeat the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah on behalf of the woman. [A blessing may only be recited at certain times, and therefore, it is imperative for women who desire to say a blessing to be aware of the laws involved of when a blessing may and may not be said.]
- Children: [Male] Children which have reached the age of Chinuch are Rabbinically obligated to be educated to eat in the Sukkah. This is defined as when the [male] child no longer needs his mother which is generally from six years old. If the child is sharp and advanced to the point that he does not need his mother even before six years old, then he is obligated to be educated in the Mitzvah of Sukkah. It is the father’s obligation to educate this child to dwell in the Sukkah and if he sees him not doing so he must protest his actions and enter him into the Sukkah. However, the mother, and others, are not obligated to educate the child to dwell in the Sukkah and she may even present him a meal outside of the Sukkah so long as she does not tell him to eat outside the Sukkah.
- Must a child be educated to sleep in the Sukkah? A child is to be educated to sleep in the Sukkah. If, however, it is cold outside, then there is no need to do so.
- Should one educate a child to eat all foods in the Sukkah? There is no obligation to do so.
- If a child turns Bar Mitzvah during Sukkos should he say Shehechiyanu? It is proper for the child to say Shehechiyanu on a new fruit while in the Sukkah.
- Chasan: In today’s times, a Chasan, and his entourage, are obligated in the Mitzvah of Sukkah throughout the Sheva Brachos just like anyone else. [He is to say a blessing upon eating a meal in the Sukkah, just like any other person.]
- Avel: A mourner is obligated to remove his sadness and dwell in the Sukkah during Sukkos. However, if he is unable to remove the sadness and he needs privacy and seclusion at home in order to handle the mourning, then he is exempt from the Mitzvah.
- Onen: An Onen on Erev Sukkos may build the Sukkah if there is no one else available to do so for him. An Onen is obligated to dwell in the Sukkah during Yom Tov and is to recite a blessing. However, on Chol Hamoed, some Poskim rule the Onen is not obligated to dwell in the Sukkah. Other Poskim, however, rule he is obligated to dwell in the Sukkah. Practically, he is to eat in the Sukkah without a blessing.
D. The Mitzvah of dwelling:
- The definition of dwelling: The verse states “Besukkos Teishvu Shivas Yamim.” The Sages received in an oral tradition that this means “Teishvu Keiyn Taduru”, that one is to make one’s Sukkah his permanent residence and his house temporary for the duration of the festival. 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. If one needs to have a conversation with a friend, he is to do so in the Sukkah. The general rule is a person should act as if his Sukkah is his house, and anything that one would not do outside his house he should not do outside the Sukkah.
E. Eating and drinking in the Sukkah:
- Eating in the Sukkah: One is only required to eat a set meal inside a Sukkah. However, it is permitted to eat a snack outside the Sukkah. The definition of a snack is a Kibeitza or less of bread or Mezonos, and any amount of any other food. This applies even if one makes a set meal on other foods, nevertheless he is not required to eat them in a Sukkah. Thus, one is only required to eat in the Sukkah if he is eating more than a Kibeitza of bread [without the shell, which is more than 53.8 grams] or Mezonos [within Kdei Achilas Pras, which is within 4 minutes].
- Must one eat a meal of Hamotzi or Mezonos in the Sukkah every day? There is no maximum or minimum amount of meals that one must eat in the Sukkah. Thus, if one desires to eat only foods that are not obligated to be eaten in a Sukkah throughout Sukkahs, he may do so. However, this only applies on Chol Hamoed, however on Shabbos and Yom Tov, since according to some opinions one is obligated to eat a Kibeitza of bread for the Shabbos and Yom Tov meal, therefore he must eat these meals in the Sukkah. Furthermore, on the first night of Sukkos, according to all opinions, one must eat at least a Kezayis of bread in the Sukkah. This applies even if it is raining on the first night, although in such a case he is not to say a blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah. [However, the custom of Chassidim is to always recite the blessing.] On the second night of Sukkos in the Diaspora one is not required to eat a Kezayis in the Sukkah if it is raining, although one who desires to be stringent, may do so.
- Drinking in the Sukkah: [From the letter of the law] it is permitted to drink all beverages outside the Sukkah, including wine. One may drink even more than a Revius. This allowance however only applies by a regular drink, however, to settle oneself down on a beverage such as wine or beer or mead, this must be done in the Sukkah as will be explained!
- [The above is only from the letter of the law, however] one who is stringent upon himself to not drink even water outside the Sukkah is praised. [Practically, the Chabad custom is that those who are meticulous do not drink even water outside the Sukkah, even on Shemini Atzeres.]
- Settling oneself over the beverage: One who settles himself down to drink wine, or other beverage of significance of which is it is common to settle oneself upon, is obligated to drink it in the Sukkah. However, the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah is not said upon drinking it, [with exception to Kiddush and Havdalah in which it is said]. Due to this, that no blessing is said, it is proper not to drink wine, or other significant beverages, in a settling manner in a Sukkah which one has not, and does not plan to, say in it Leisheiv Basukkah that day. [Hence when invited to someone else’s Sukkah to settle with him and drink wine, one is to eat a Kibeitza of Mezonos in order so the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah covers the wine.] However, when eating in a Sukkah that one has said Leisheiv that day, or plans on doing so, then there is no need to refrain from drinking the wine, as it is already included in the blessing of Leisheiv which was, or will, be said that day.
- Drinking the beverage casually: It is permitted from the letter of the law to drink wine or other significant beverages in an unsettling manner outside of the Sukkah. This applies even if one drinks a lot more than a Revius of the beverage. However, one who is stringent to not even drink water outside the Sukkah, is blessed.
- 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 it is said after the blessing of Shehechiyanu. [During the day Kiddush, the blessing of Leisheiv is said after the blessing of Hagafen, prior to drinking from 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.
- Must one who is stringent not to even drink water outside a Sukkah, swallow medicine inside a Sukkah? The custom of the Rebbe Rashab was to be stringent to even swallow medicine within the Sukkah.
- Must one who is stringent not to even drink water outside a Sukkah, drink water while traveling if he is very thirsty? It is praiseworthy and an act of piety to be meticulous even in such a case and avoid drinking until one enters a Sukkah. Nevertheless, if this will cause one to fast past midday then he is to drink or eat something.
- May one make Havdalah outside a Sukkah for an ill patient which cannot come into the Sukkah? If the patient is unable to make Havdalah himself then one may do so for him, although he should try to drink only the majority of a Revius, as opposed to a full Revius.
F. Learning and Davening in a Sukkah:
- One must learn Torah inside the Sukkah. (However, if he is learning inside the Beis Midrash he is not required to enter the Sukkah). Likewise, if by learning outside one is able to delve into the subject and understand it in greater depth then he may learn outside the Sukkah in order so he have a more serene mind, as the air of the outside is good for a person to refresh his mind. Nevertheless, it all depends on the situation, as if he is able to learn comfortably in his Sukkah then he must do so.
- If he requires many Sefarim for his learning, then if he is able to make space in his Sukkah in a way that he is not required to remove the Sefarim from the Sukkah during the meals and upon sleeping, then he must set up the Sefarim in his Sukkah and learn in the Sukkah. However, if he is unable to easily prepare an area for the Sefarim and it takes a lot of trouble to remove the Sefarim during the mealtimes and then return them afterwards then he may learn outside the Sukkah.
- Davening in a Sukkah: If one is unable to Daven in Shul, then if he is able to Daven in his Sukkah without disturbances and with a clear mind and proper concentration, he must do so. This however only applies if he is unable to go to Shul, however if he is able to go to Shul then he must do so and is not required to Daven in his Sukkah. If he is unable to Daven with concentration in his Sukkah, then he may Daven inside his house.
- Shaking Lulav in the Sukkah: From the letter of the law, one is to fulfill the Mitzvah of shaking Lulav before Hallel. However, since it is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to shake the Lulav in the Sukkah, and one cannot leave the Shul in the interim due to the onlookers, therefore in the morning, prior to prayer, one is to say the blessing over the Lulav while still in the Sukkah.
- Must a Bris Mila take place in a Sukkah? Yes.
G. Sleeping in Sukkah:
- The obligation-Letter of the law: Part of the Mitzvah and [Biblical] obligation of dwelling in a Sukkah, is to sleep in the Sukkah throughout all seven days of Sukkos, both by day and night, just as one does in his home throughout the year. It is forbidden to sleep outside of a Sukkah, even for a mere nap. Despite this obligation and prohibition, today the custom of the world is to be lenient and not to sleep in the Sukkah, with exception to those who are meticulous in Mitzvos. [Likewise, the Chabad practice is not to sleep in the Sukkah, due to reasons to be explained.] The following are the cases of exceptions and reasons of leniency for why many no longer sleep in the Sukkah:
- Rain: During times of rain, even if it is only a mere drizzle, one is not obligated to sleep in the Sukkah, being that it is uncomfortable to sleep there. If the rain stopped, then if he did not yet lie down to go to sleep in his home, he is obligated to return to sleep in the Sukkah. If, however, he already laid down in his house to go to sleep, then he is not required to return to the Sukkah. However, once it is past Alos then if one wakes up and notices the rain has ended, he must return to the Sukkah if he desires to continue sleeping.
- Insects-Mosquitos: If one is disturbed by mosquitos in the Sukkah, he is exempt from sleeping in the Sukkah.
- Hot weather: During times of heat, one is not obligated to sleep in the Sukkah, if it is uncomfortable to sleep there.
- Cold weather: In cold climate areas, in which it is painful [i.e. uncomfortable] to sleep inside the Sukkah, and one does not own enough blankets and sheets to properly warm himself up, then he is not obligated to sleep inside the Sukkah. [If he does own warm enough blankets to protect him from the cold inside the Sukkah, then he must enter them into the Sukkah and sleep there, unless one of the following other exceptions apply.]
- Not enough room in the Sukkah for a bed: Even if one owns enough blankets to keep him warm in the Sukkah, if [the Sukkah is small and] one is unable to set up his sleeping quarters in the Sukkah for all seven days of the festival, in a way that he will not need to remove the [bed and] sleeping accessories from the Sukkah during meal times [in order to make space], then he is exempt from sleeping in his Sukkah. This however only applies if removing and setting up the sleeping quarters [daily] is considered an extra burden, and one is distressed by this burden to the point that if he had such a burden in his home he would not [enter the bed and accessories into the bedroom and] sleep there [but would rather sleep in the room that the bed and accessories are currently located in].
- One who is married: Some Poskim suggest, in defense of those who do not sleep in the Sukkah, that a married man is exempt from sleeping in the Sukkah [at night] if he desires to sleep with his wife in the same room [and his wife does not want to sleep in the Sukkah, or the Sukkah does not provide enough privacy]. This applies even if his wife is a Nida. This exemption applies during the nighttime [however not during the day]. Nevertheless, [despite the above suggestive justification] it is proper to be stringent to build a private Sukkah in which one is able to sleep there [even at night] together with his wife.
- Noise: One who is unable to sleep in his Sukkah due to noise, is exempt from doing so and may sleep in his home.
- The custom today: Today, the custom of the world is to be lenient and not sleep in the Sukkah [and so is the Chabad custom], with exception to those who are meticulous in Mitzvos. Some have learned merit for their practice based on the fact that [it is too cold to sleep in the Sukkah, or alternatively] regarding married men, due to the fact a married person may sleep at home with his wife [as explained above].
- The Chabad custom: The custom of many Chabad Chassidim is not to sleep in the Sukkah even if one of the above listed exceptions do not apply, due to the reason to be explained below. This custom dates back to the Alter Rebbe, and was instructed by the Mittler Rebbe to the Chassidim. The Rebbe, Rebbe Rayatz and Rebbe Rashab did not sleep in the Sukkah, but rather at home. This custom was also practiced by other Chassidic groups and Chassidic masters, who followed the ways of the Baal Shem Tov. This was the widespread custom of the world in the times of the Rama, as quoted above. Nonetheless, despite this custom and its justification, there are Chabad Chassidim who sleep in the Sukkah, and the Rebbe instructed that those who did so until this point are to continue to do so despite the custom and its justification. Furthermore, the Rebbe instructed that one may only follow the custom to not sleep in the Sukkah if the reason to be explained is applicable to him, or if one of the other previous mentioned exceptions apply to him. However, one who feels that the reason to be explained is not applicable to him, and also does not have any of the other exceptions apply to him, is obligated to sleep in the Sukkah as is required from the letter of the law, even if he is a Chabad Chassid. [Unfortunately, some have understood the Chabad custom to dismiss the obligation of sleeping in a Sukkah, or even prohibit it, altogether. This is clearly a distortion of the custom, and the intents of those who justified it. In addition, some troubled individuals have unfortunately used this custom as a platform to attack the legitimacy of Chabad Chassidim, and spread slander, baseless hatred and transgress various prohibitions of the Torah, which are too many to enumerate. The custom has clear Halachic basis, was defended and instructed by the greatest of Poskim, and was practiced by all Jewry for one reason or another. Those who attack the custom are in truth attacking all those Poskim and the longstanding tradition of Jewry.]
- The reason and application: The reason behind the custom is due to another aspect of the exception of Mitztaer/distress, which exempts one from sleeping in the Sukkah, and was not listed above. This aspect of Mitztaer is explained as follows: The Sukkah contains a sublime level of holiness, or G-dly revelation, called Makifim Debina. Chabad Chassidus emphasizes the study of Chassidus which internalizes the knowledge of the above level of Divinity. One who has knowledge of this holiness contained in a Sukkah, will naturally be disturbed to perform any action that is unbefitting of the holiness it contains. Now, since during sleep one is unable to be conscious of the holiness of the Sukkah, as well as the act of sleep in it of itself can be viewed as a disrespect to the holiness of the Sukkah, therefore there is distress involved in sleeping in the Sukkah. Accordingly, since sleeping in the Sukkah causes one spiritual pain, he is exempt from doing so, as anyone who is in pain upon dwelling in the Sukkah is exempt from the Mitzvah. This reason especially applies to those Tzaddikim and Chassidim who are on a level that they could feel the holiness of the Sukkah, and therefore simply cannot fall asleep. Furthermore, it even applies to those who do not feel this level of holiness, if they are nevertheless distressed over the fact that they know it contains this holiness, and are disturbed to act in a disrespectful way towards it, such as to sleep in it. Furthermore, it even applies to those who are not disturbed to sleep in the Sukkah due the holiness of the Sukkah, but simply due to the fact that this is the custom of their Rebbe, and they are distressed to not follow in their Rebbe’s custom. As stated above, if none of these reasons, or other exceptions, are applicable, and one hence finds no disturbance at all in his sleeping in the Sukkah, then he is obligated to do so.
- If one fears sleeping in the Sukkah due to getting his house robbed, may he sleep at home? Yes.
- Must one sleep in the Sukkah if he needs to care for children at home, such as a single father, or if his wife is away? He is exempt from sleeping in the Sukkah.
- May one who is traveling on a plane or bus fall asleep there? Yes.
- May one learning in the Beis Midrash put his head down for a short nap? Yes.
- May one sleep alone in a Sukkah? Yes.
- May one wash Neigal Vassar in the morning inside the Sukkah? Yes.
H. Items to enter into the Sukkah:
- The table: One must enter a table into his eating Sukkah. One who does so does not fulfill his obligation as we suspect one may come after his food.
- May part of the table be inside the house? Some Poskim require at least a Tefach of the table to be inside the Sukkah in which case it is valid. Others require that majority of the table be inside the Sukkah.
- Vessels: One should enter his most beautiful vessels, tapestries, and drinking utensils into the Sukkah. However, one is not to enter flour vessels and other vessels that are normally not left out within the house. 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.]
- Entering pots into a Sukkah: [It is permitted to enter pots and pans of food into a Sukkah.] Nonetheless, once the meal has been completed, one is to remove the pots, pans, and plates from the Sukkah, being that after their use they are considered repulsive [and it is belittling to the Sukkah to have them remain]. [According to some opinions, leaving dirty pots and plates in a Sukkah can invalidate the Sukkah, and it is hence to be removed immediately after the meal is completed. The above allowance to initially bring pots of food into a Sukkah is from the letter of the law, however, many Poskim record that the custom is not to enter pots and pans of food into a Sukkah at all even for the purpose of serving the food, and rather the food is served in a dish a tray. However, if there are no plates available, and one needs to eat directly from the pot, then one may enter it into the Sukkah.]
- Candles: One must have light in his Sukkah and thus he is to enter candles in the Sukkah. If they are a fire hazard one may not bring it into the Sukkah even if it is made of gold. One may not enter earthenware candles into his Sukkah [due to it being repulsive].
I. Belittling acts in the Sukkah:
- One may not do any belittling acts inside the Sukkah. Thus, one may not clean the dishes inside the Sukkah, although drinking cups may be washed down.
- May one use a Sukkah as a short cut? One is not to make his Sukkah into a shortcut to reach another area.
- May one hang laundry in the Sukkah? No.
- May one allow a gentile to enter one’s Sukkah? One should not invite a gentile into the Sukkah as this causes the holiness to leave. Therefore, one should not have a gentile maid clean the Sukkah inside.
- May one have marital relations in a Sukkah? Some Poskim rule it is permitted. Other Poskim however rule it is forbidden have marital relations in the Sukkah.
- May one wash Neigal Vassar inside the Sukkah? Yes.
J. The blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah
- When is the blessing of Leisheiv said? The blessing of ‘Leisheiv Basukkah’ is only said when eating a Kibeitza [53.8 grams] of Mezonos or Hamotzi [within Kdei Achilas Pras, which is within 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 [with exception to a Sukkah in which one will not be eating, as explained below].
- Is the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah said before or after the blessing over food? The blessing of Leisheiv is recited after saying the blessing of the food, but prior to eating it. Thus, if one eats bread, he first says Hamotzi and then say Leisheiv and then eat. If he is eating a Kibeitza of Mezonos he first says Mezonos, then Leisheiv and then eats the Mezonos. [The Rebbe’s custom is to look at Sechach upon saying Leisheiv.]
- How often does one say the blessing of Leisheiv over eating in a 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 between the previous time he ate and the current eating. If, however, no interval was made then he does not repeat the blessing, as the previous blessing still covers his current eating. This applies even if one remained in the Sukkah throughout all seven days of Sukkos without an interval, in which case he would only say the blessing on the first meal he eats in the Sukkah. The definition of an interval is either intent or time. This means as follows: If one left the Sukkah after eating and had intent to not return within one to two hours then even if he returns immediately, he must repeat the blessing prior to eating a Kibeitza of Mezonos. Likewise, even if one intended to return within one to two hours, but in actuality returned after one to two hours, then it is considered an interval and he must repeat the blessing prior to eating a Kibeitza of Mezonos.
- Must one repeat the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah when eating in a second Sukkah? One must say the blessing of Leisheiv in every Sukkah that he eats a Kibeitza of Mezonos. This applies even if he had in mind to eat in the second Sukkah at the time, he began eating in the first Sukkah, and applies even if both Sukkahs are next to each other and a new first blessing is not required to be repeated, nevertheless a new blessing must be said.
- Saying the blessing of Leisheiv on simply relaxing or sleeping in someone else’s Sukkah: 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. However, if one plans on eating a Kibeitza of Mezonos in that Sukkah, or if he already ate a Kibeitza there, then these acts are exempt with the blessing made on the food.
- If one forgot to say Leisheiv before eating: If one forgot to recite Leisheiv Basukkah prior to eating he is to say it upon remembering. If he has already finished eating and then remembered to say the blessing, then if he is still in the Sukkah, he is to say the blessing upon remembering [even if he has already Bentched].
K. The laws of Mitztaer:
- General Rule: One is only obligated to dwell in his Sukkah in the same matter that he would dwell in his home. Thus, one who is pained to dwell in his Sukkah and through leaving the Sukkah he will be saved from this pain, then he is exempt from dwelling. This however is with exception to the first night of Sukkos in which case one is obligated to eat at least a Kezayis in the Sukkah.
- Dwelling in the Sukkah when one is exempt due to the law of Mitztaer? Anyone who is exempt from dwelling in a Sukkah [due to experiencing pain or distress due to the dwelling] and does not leave the Sukkah, does not receive any reward for that dwelling and is considered a Hedyot [i.e. a fool or ignoramus, or simpleton]. [It is thus certainly forbidden to be stringent and say a blessing upon dwelling in a Sukkah at a time that one is exempt. The above is the letter of the law. However, the custom Chassidim, based on the Baal Shem Tov, is to always eat in the Sukkah even during rain. It is disputed whether one is to say the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah when eating there during rain. Practically, the Chabad custom is to say a blessing even in the rain.]
- How to leave the Sukkah when Mitztaer: One who leaves his Sukkah due to rain [or other case of distress] is not to [leave angrily and] kick [the Sukkah] but is rather to leave with humility, viewing himself like a slave who served a cup of wine to his master and the master pours it on his face, meaning to say, “I am not interested in your service.”
- Matters which cause pain and discomfort: Wind; Flies; Gnats; Foul odor.
- Initially building a Sukkah in an area with discomfort: It is forbidden to initially build a Sukkah in an area that one knows contains discomfort that will exempt him from dwelling there. This applies whether the discomfort exempts him from eating there, or sleeping there, or spending time there. If one built a Sukkah in such an area it is invalid. For example, if one built a Sukkah in an area that wind blows in a way that causes one discomfort to eat there, the Sukkah is invalid. Similarly, if one built a Sukkah in the middle of the street and he fears sleeping there due to robbers, the Sukkah is invalid. If, however he does not fear from robbers even though he fears his items will be stolen, the Sukkah remains valid, as he is able to enter these items into his house and then sleep in the Sukkah.
- Matters which only cause discomfort to a minority of individuals: A person that receives discomfort from a matter that most people are not commonly discomforted from, then he must dwell in the Sukkah despite the discomfort, as we follow the common way of living. However, if one knows himself to be a very sensitive and pampered individual in a way that all sensitive and pampered individuals are likewise discomforted by it, then he is exempt from dwelling in the Sukkah.
- Dwelling in a Sukkah during rain: If it rains in one’s Sukkah to the point that one’s food would become ruined; he is exempt from eating in the Sukkah. This applies even if he currently does not have any food in the Sukkah. This applies even if only a very delicate food [such as Pol-fava bean] would be ruined by the rain. If one is unsure of whether the rain would ruin this food then if it is raining to the point that one would leave his house if this occurred in his house, then he is exempt from Sukkah. On the first night one is to eat a Kezayis of bread in the Sukkah even if it is raining although he is not to say a blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah. On the second night of Sukkos in the Diaspora one is not required to eat a Kezayis in the Sukkah if it is raining although one who desires to be stringent may do so. [The above is the letter of the law however it is the custom Chassidim, based on the Baal Shem Tov, is to always eat in the Sukkah even during rain. It is disputed whether one is to say the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah when eating there during rain. Practically the Chabad custom is to say a blessing even in the rain.]
- Sleeping: If it is raining in the Sukkah even slightly one is exempt from sleeping there and may sleep outside the Sukkah.
- If one left the Sukkah due to rain and it then stopped raining: If one left the Sukkah in midst of a meal due to the rain and it then stopped raining, he is not required to return to the Sukkah and may rather finish the meal in his house. If one was sleeping in the Sukkah and he left due to rain and it stopped raining before he had a chance to lie down in his bed in his house, then he must return to his Sukkah. If, however one already lied down to go to sleep then he is not required to return to the Sukkah. This applies even if one woke up in middle of the night and realized the rain stopped, nevertheless one is not required to return to the Sukkah to sleep. However, once it is past Alos then if one wakes up and notices the rain has ended, he must return to the Sukkah if he desires to continue sleeping. However, others are not obligated to wake him up past Alos.
- Dwelling in a Sukkah heat wave: If one is experiencing very hot weather in the Sukkah and one is in pain, he is exempt from dwelling in the Sukkah. This applies even if one’s food would not become spoiled due to the heat.
- Dwelling in a Sukkah that contains many insects: If one is experiencing an insect infestation in the Sukkah and one is in pain, he is exempt from dwelling in the Sukkah. This applies even if one’s food would not become spoiled due to the insects.
- Dwelling in a Sukkah during very cold weather: If one is experiencing very cold weather in the Sukkah to the point that his fatty foods congeal, he is exempt from dwelling in the Sukkah.
- Eating in a Sukkah that does not have light: If the lights extinguished within the Sukkah during Shabbos of the festival, and he contains light within his house, then he is permitted to leave his Sukkah and eat in his house near the light. One is not obligated to enter into another person’s Sukkah which contains light in order to eat there, as this is also painful for a person to require him to eat his meal in another person’s home. Nevertheless, if one is able to enter another person’s Sukkah without great difficulty, then he is to do so and is not to be lenient in this matter.
L. One who is traveling:
- One who is traveling during the holiday of Sukkos through in an uninhabited area and is sleeping and eating in the fields, is exempt from building a Sukkah. However, when he arrives to a town, even a town of gentiles, and he desires to eat or sleep there, he must build a Sukkah if he has time to build it prior to the normal time one eats and sleeps.
- One who is traveling for a Mitzvah: If one is traveling for a Mitzvah purpose, such as to redeem a captive or to greet his Rebbe, then he is not required to dwell in the Sukkah during his travels even if he is in an inhabited area that contains a Sukkah. However, if the Sukkah is near him, and he is able to dwell in the Sukkah without any impediments being caused to the fulfillment of the Mitzvah, then he is to dwell in the Sukkah.
- May one travel for leisure purposes, like going on an overnight hike, if there will not be a Sukkah available during their stay? One may not do so. One may only travel through areas without a Sukkah for business purposes or other necessary purposes.