logo
The following are some halakhic issues regarding the upcoming holiday of Sukkot. As always, please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
 
  1. Foods that must be eaten in the Sukkah: Generally speaking, men and boys over the age of nine must eat read bread and mezonot food made of any of the five grains in the sukkah. Drinks other than wine and fruits and vegetables that are not eaten in the context of a bread meal may be eaten outside the sukkah. It is preferable to drink wine in the sukkah. It is preferable to eat meat, cheese or fish that is eaten in the context of a meal in a sukkah. One should only recite a brakha on the sukkah if one has a bread meal or a significant amount of mezonot (more than 2 ½ fluid oz.) or if one eats mezonot as part of Kiddush on Shabbat morning. In general, one should try to spend as much of his daytime activities while he is at home in the sukkah if possible.
  2. Havdalah Saturday night on Chol Hamoed: One should recite havdalah in the Sukkah. There are different customs regarding whether and when one recites the brakha of leisheiv basukkah. Some recite a regular havdalah on wine without reciting leishev basukkah; however, others recite a regular havdalah, drink the wine and then recite a mezonot & leishev basukkah on a significant amount of mezonot.
  3. Rain during Sukkot: With the exception of the first two nights of Sukkot, on all days or nights of Sukkot, if the rain is so strong in the Sukkah that if it was raining in the house a person would be driven out of his home to find other shelter, or if the rain is ruining his food, preventing him from eating, he need not eat in the Sukkah. If one has already started his meal inside, and the rain stops, he may complete his meal in the house.  On the first two nights of Sukkot, there are some poskim who rule that there is an obligation to eat a kzayit of bread in the sukkah even if it rains.  As such, the following rules
  4.  First night: 
i. One may start the meal right away; however, if he thinks it may stop raining soon, then it is advisable to wait a short amount of time. 
 

ii. If it is raining, men and older boys (over the age of nine) must recite Kiddush and make hamotzi in the sukkah and eat a kzayit of bread (roughly equivalent to a half of a slice of bread).  During the Kiddush, the brakhah of shehechiyanu is recited but not the brakhah of "leisheiv basukkah."


 

iii. Women, girls and young boys (under nine years old) are exempt from this requirement, but if they choose to remain inside the house, they must remember to recite their own Kiddush or hear it from the man who is reciting Kiddush in the sukkah.  If a woman, girl or young boy does not go into the sukkah when it is raining, then she or he recites the brakhah of shehechiyanu the first time that she or he eats in the sukkah.


 

iv.The rest of the meal may be eaten in one's house and one can recite birkat hamazon in the house.


 

v. If it stops raining & the sukkah is dry enough for a man or an older boy to sit relatively comfortably in it before he goes to sleep, he must eat more than a kabeitza of bread (roughly equivalent to a slice of bread) inside the sukkah and recite the brakha of "leisheiv basukkah" before eating the bread.


 

vi. If he is in the middle of his meal when it stops raining, he need not recite birkat hamazon and wash netillat yadayim and recite hamotzi for the new piece of bread; rather, he simply eats the required amount in the sukkah and then he can return to his home and finish his meal there.


 

b. Second night:

i. One may start the meal right away; however, if he thinks it may stop raining soon, then it is advisable to wait a short amount of time.


 

ii. If it is raining, one may begin the meal in his home (including Kiddush and hamotzi) and at the end of the meal, the men and older boys must go into the sukkah and eat a kzayit of bread (roughly equivalent to a half of a slice of bread), but they do not recite any brakhah.


 

iii. The men and older boys may then return to the house to recite birkat hamazon.


 

iv. If it stops raining & the sukkah is dry enough for a man or an older boy to sit relatively comfortably in it before he goes to sleep, he should eat more than a kabeitza of bread (roughly equivalent to a slice of bread) inside the sukkah and recite the brakha of "leisheiv basukkah" before eating the bread.


 

5. Decorations or schach that falls off on Sukkot: Before the onset of Sukkot, one should state with reference to the Sukkah decorations, "Ainei bodel meihem kol bein hashemashot" - "I am not rendering these decorations to be designated for the mitzvah of Sukkah decorations upon the onset of Sukkot." In this instance, one may take down the decorations, if necessary, on Sukkot.       One should not take down his sukkah that he built in his backyard in the middle of Sukkot absent extenuating circumstances. If decorations fall down on Chol Hamoed, one may put them up or remove them on chol hamoed so that they won't get ruined. If schach falls down on Sukkot, one may put it up on Chol Hamoed.       If decorations or schach fall down on Yom Tov, one may move them to the side of the sukkah with the back of one's hand. If schach is blown out of place on Yom Tov such that the sukkah is now rendered invalid, one may not adjust the schach on Yom Tov; however, if schach is blown out of place on Yom Tov but the sukkah is not rendered invalid thereby, one may adjust the schach on Yom Tov with the back of one's hand.


 

6. Arrangement of the arba minim: We tie three hadasim to the right side of the lulav (as the green spine of the lulav faces us) with the top of the spineof the lulav (the point where the leaves of the lulav begin to branch out) preferably ending at least one handbreadth (about 3 ½ inches) above the top of the hadassim. The top of the stem of the hadassim should be slightly higher than the top of the stem of the two aravot which are on the left side of the lulav.


 

7. Broken pitam: Generally, even if the pitam is broken but part of the pitam remains above the etrog level, then the etrog is technically kosher but it is preferable to use another one to recite the blessings on the lulav and etrog. However, one may certainly use this type of etrog for hallel & hoshanot.


 

8. Keeping hadasim & aravot fresh during Sukkot: In an effort to keep the hadasim & aravot fresh during Sukkot, one may wet paper towels on Yom Tov slightly but one should not saturate the paper towels with water.


 

9. Owning the arba minim on the first two days of Sukkot: One may not use a borrowed set of arba minim to fulfill one's mitzvah on the first two days of Yom Tov. One may give a arba minim to a friend on condition that the friend will return the arba minim after waving it.

 
Rabbi Jonathan Muskat