It is written: 1 "You shall dwell in succot for seven days." The meaning of "to dwell" in the succah, is that the Torah tells us to "dwell" in a succah for seven days, just as one "dwells" in ones' house the rest of the year. Thus, one should, from the start (of the festival) make the succah ones' main residence, and move into it ones' best dishes and most beautiful covers. One should eat, drink, study, relax and sleep in the succah. Even if one talks to a friend, one should talk in the succah. Similarly, if one prays by oneself, one should pray in the succah. As it is written: 2 "So that your descendants will know that I made the Children of Israel to sit in succot, when I brought them out of Egypt." Therefore, we should have the intention by our sitting in the succah, that this is because the Holy One, Blessed be He, commanded us, to sit in succot as a remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. (Concerning) these "succot" that are mentioned in the Torah "because (I made you) to sit in succot". There is a difference of opinion between the sages. 3 Rabbi Eliezer says that they are the "Clouds of Glory" with which the Holy One, Blessed be He, surrounded our ancestors so that they would not be disturbed by the heat and the sun (of the desert). Rabbi Akiva says actual succot (booths) that they built in their camps against the sun. Although we left Egypt in the month of Nissan, we were not commanded to make succot at this time, because it is the beginning of the summer period, and it is normal for people to make succot for shade, and it would not be obvious that this was (due to) a commandment of the Creator, may His name be blessed. Therefore, He commanded us to build them in the seventh month, which is the time of the rains, and people would normally leave their succot and dwell in their houses. We (however) leave the house and dwell in the succah, to show every one that we are carrying out the commandment of the King.
- Leviticus 23:42.
- Leviticus 23:43.
- Succah 11b.
We must treat the succah with honor, to show we are not disrepectful of the commandment, and so we do not bring into it utensils that are not dignified like pots or a jug used to draw water, containers for storing flour, a kneading trough, a cauldron, a frying pan, a mortar and the like. Similarly, the (dirty) plates after eating should be taken out. Drinking vessels (glasses, cups etc) can be left in the succah. It is customary not to bring in a candle (holder) made from pottery because this can become disgusting. Similarly, one should not carry out in it any disrespectful activities, such as washing pots or dishes. However cups may be rinsed. It is certainly forbidden to urinate in it, even into a receptacle, and even if one does this inside ones' home. But having relations (with ones' wife) is permitted in the succah, because the commandment applies to (all things concerning) a man and his wife. If one brings in to it disrespectful utensils, this does not make it invalid. However, while these are inside it, one should not bless "to sit in the succah" until they are removed.
Eating in the succah in the first night is an obligation, and one needs to eat in the succah bread, at least a k'zayit 1 even if one is uncomfortable (because of the weather) one is obliged to eat in the succah. If rain is falling and one believes it will cease after one hour or two hours, one should wait and afterwards make kiddush and eat in the succah as is proper. If one sees that the rain will not stop or one waited and it did not stop, one makes kiddush in the succah (including) the "...who has kept us in life..." blessing, and intends by "...who has kept us in life..." to also include the succah. However, one does not bless "to dwell in the succah" washes one hands and blesses "who brings forth bread" and eats a k'zayit of bread without a break, then goes to the house and finishes his meal. One should intend at the time of washing the hands and while blessing "who brings forth bread" that he intends to eat also in the house. If the rain stopped before one said grace (after the meal), one should return to the succah, bless "to dwell in the succah" and eat about a little more than a "k'beitzah" 2 of bread, then say grace after meals. If the rain stopped after he said grace after meals, he also goes (out) to the succah, washes his hands a second time, eats a little more than a "k'beitzah" of bread with the blessing "to dwell in the succah" and then says grace after meals. If, in his succah, even after the rain have stopped water is still dripping from the covering, and there is a succah in his neighbourhood which had a closed roof and after the rain, was opened up, he goes there and eats bread with a joyful heart.
- The amount of an olive, about 1 oz or 28 gm.
- lit; the size of an egg. About 86 to 100 ml, or about two thirds of a slice of regular sliced white bread or three quarters of a regular square machine matzah ("Halachot of K'zayit" by Rabbi Y. Bodner).
On the second night 1 it is also an obligation to eat in the succah even if one is uncomfortable, and its laws are as for the first night as we have already described. There is one difference between them, if one saw that the rain was not stopping or one waited and it did not stop, before grace after meals, one goes into the succah and eats there at least a k'zayit of bread without (saying) the "to dwell in the succah" blessing then returns to his home and blesses grace after meals.
- All references to the second night only apply outside Israel of course.
In the evening when one comes from the synagogue one enters the succah and makes kiddush immediately but one should only make kiddush if one is sure it is night. When one says "to dwell in the succah" during kiddush, one should intend this blessing to also include that meal and also sleeping (in the succah) and the rest of the things one does in the succah, up to the kiddush of the following morning. On the blessing "who has kept us in life" one should intend that the blessing "who has kept us in life" applies both to the festival and to the succah. Therefore, on the first night one first blesses "to dwell in the succah" and after that "who has kept us in life" so that the "who has kept us in life" blessing is also on the succah. On the second night one first blesses "who has kept us in life" and afterwards "to dwell in the succah".
When several heads-of-houses (hosts) are eating in one succah together with their wives and families, who need to listen carefully to the kiddush in order to be included in it, and if all the hosts made kiddush together, it is not valid and the kiddush will not be clearly heard, therefore, it is better if they make kiddush one after the other. If they make kiddush together, for example, (because) there is no one there who needs to hear kiddush, if one preceded (the others) and finished the blessing "who creates the fruit of the vine" or another blessing, and afterwards the others finished, the first should not respond "Amen" to the other's blessing, because this "Amen" is an interruption between the "who creates the fruit of the vine" blessing and drinking (the wine). It is generally customary for each to wait for the other and respond "Amen", but this is not the law and they should all say (kiddush) together.
On the rest of the nights, and similarly during all the days, there is no obligation to eat (only) in the succah. However, if one wants to eat a "fixed meal" or sleep, one needs to eat or sleep in the succah. What is a "fixed meal"? Bread (of a quantity) more than a k'beitzah, even if one did not intend (to eat) this (as a meal). Even if this is pastry or the like (and not bread) 1 and also food made from the five species of grain 2 of quantity more than a beitzah, and intended this (as a meal), one is required (to eat in) the succah and to bless over it "to dwell in a succah". However, fruit, even if one eats a lot, and intended this as ones' meal, may be eaten outside the succah. Also, wine or other drinks, or meat or cheese, may be eaten or drunk outside the succah, as long as one did not intend them as ones' meals. However, if one wants to drink wine or other drinks as part of a "fixed meal", or one wants to eat meat or cheese as part of a "fixed meal", one needs (to eat in) a succah. One should not bless over them "to dwell in the succah", and it is better to first eat some bread so that one can bless. This is all the (minimum requirements of) the law, but one who is scrupulous and even water, does not drink outside the succah, is praiseworthy.
- lit; Bread offered as dessert. Cake, biscuits, or pastry made from the five species of grain.
- The five species are wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt.
Sleep, even for a short nap, according to the law (halacha) needs (to be in the) succah. This is the practice of those who are strict in (their observance of) the commandments that even a nap is not taken outside the succah. At present, when many are accustomed to be lenient about sleeping (in the succah), the later Rabbinic authorities (Achronim), may their memory be for a blessing, wrote, several reasons to justify their (behaviour), 1 but every G-d fearing person should be scrupulous and make a succah that one can dwell in with his wife, as one dwells the rest of the year, if possible. At least it should be suitable for him to sleep there alone. If (the succah) is not (fit to sleep in), then even after the event, it is invalid. 2
- Such as the cold weather at Succot time in their countries (Europe).
- This does not refer to temporary events, like bad weather, which would stop one sleeping there, but rather that the succah was built in an unsuitable place, that from the start would prevent one sleeping in it.
When rain comes down, one is exempt from (dwelling) in the succah. What kind of rain exempts (one)? If so much falls that if it got into the food it would be spoilt, even if the food is not (actually on the table) before him, or one estimates that if (this amount of rain) had fallen into a room where one was one would have gone out to another room, then one leaves the succah and enters the house. If one started to eat in the succah and then the rain (began) to fall, and (then) entered the house and began to eat in the house, or because of rain (which was already falling) began straight away to eat in the house, and afterwards the rain stopped, one finishes his meal in the house and is not obliged to go in the middle of the meal from the house to the succah. Similarly, if (the weather) is cold and the food freezes in the succah, one is exempt from the succah and eats in the house.
Concerning sleeping in the succah, also with (only) light rain, this certainly (makes it) uncomfortable to sleep and one can leave (the succah). If one left for the house and laid down to sleep, and afterwards the rain stopped, or from the start laid down in the house to sleep because of the rain, and afterwards (the rain) stopped, we do not trouble him to go to the succah (any time) throughout the night, rather one (should carry on) sleeping until the morning.
When one is exempt from the succah but does not leave it, one is called a common (ignorant) person, and does not receive any reward (in heaven) for this, and is not permitted to bless because this would be a blessing in vain. When one leaves the succah because of the rain, one should not be angry (lit; strike) ones' succah and then leave, rather leave in resignation like a servant who served a drink to his master, and his master threw (water) from a jug onto his face.
It is customary not to bless "to dwell in the succah" except for a "fixed meal". The custom is to first bless "who brings forth bread", and afterwards "to dwell in the succah" before tasting (the bread). Everything else that one eats in the succah the rest of the day, and everything one sits and does there, and even if one sleeps there, is all exempted by the blessing that one blessed for the "fixed meal", until one again eats a "fixed meal". If one did not leave the succah for his business, or to the synagogue between one meal and the next, because one has already blessed one time one does not have to bless again at the next meal one eats. Even the whole seven days of the festival, if one sat, ate, studied, prayed and slept in the succah, only needs to bless just the one time. This is because one did not take ones' attention away from the succah. Even if one went out temporarily, and ones' intention is to immediately return, this does not count as taking your attention away. There is no need to bless at a second meal, unless one left to ones' business or to the synagogue and the like. Even if one went into ones' house to study there, or to do something there that causes one to tarry, this also counts as taking your attention away, and one needs to bless at the next meal.
One who goes, even in the middle of his meal, to a friend's succah, and eats there the amount (of food) that requires (to eat in) a succah, needs to bless also there "to dwell in the succah".
One who forgot to bless "to dwell in the succah" and remembered in the middle of the meal, or even (remembered) after he had finished his food, needs to bless, because also sitting there afterwards is a commandment.
Women are exempt from the succah, but, nevertheless, are permitted to bless. Children are also exempt, but in any event, every one five years old and above, his father has an obligation to train him to eat in the succah. Even if his father is not at home, one should not allow him to eat outside the succah.
An ill person and his attendants are exempt from succah. If he is ill but not dangerously so, his attendants are not exempt except at the times when he needs them. If he is dangerously ill, they are exempt even at the times when he does not need them so much.
One who is distressed is exempt from the succah, on the rest of the nights1 and on all the days. This applies to one who is distressed due to a swelling or the wind or a bad smell and other similar things, and also if the lights went out in his succah on Shabbat and it would be a lot of trouble to go to a friend's succah, can go to his house to a place where there are lit lights. This applies provided he built the succah properly in the first place, and by chance there came to him the realization that he is distressed at having to sit or sleep in the succah. However, if from the beginning he built it in a bad or inappropriate place, or in a place where he is afraid to sleep, he does not fulfill the obligation even by eating during the day. If the wind comes and (threatens) to blow out the lights through the walls, it is permitted to spread out a sheet or garment (as a shield).
- Apart from the first night (in Israel) and the first two nights (outside Israel).
Those journeying during the day are exempt from succah during the day, because they don't have the time to search for a succah, and they need to keep going on their way. However, if they can sit in a succah, without (the) trouble (of searching) they are obligated to sit in a succah. At night time, when one is at a hotel where one wants to sleep (there), one must trouble oneself and sit in a succah. Even if one is in a place that does not have a succah, if one can make a succah at a small expense, one is obligated to try (to make sure) that one will have a succah to sleep in. One who journeys at night has the same laws as one (who travels) by day. Those that travel into the countryside to collect money (owing to them) during the Intermediate days, if they can't make there a succah, should be scrupulous on themselves, and return to their homes every night to carry out the obligation of succah.
Persons who have been appointed to carry out a precept, even at night when they are not occupied (with their mission), if they are troubled (by searching) after a succah, or it is not comfortable for them to sleep in a succah, and if they sleep they will be late in arriving and be delayed in (carrying out) their mission, are exempt from the succah, but are liable for (violating a) negative commandment.
Guards over gardens, orchards, grain and the like, if it is possible to keep guard over everything from one place should make for themselves a succah and dwell in it.
One who has wine (stored) with a non-jew, is exempt from the succah whether at day or at night, because it is necessary to keep watch that the non-jew does not touch (his wine). However, if it is something that does not need watching, then one is obligated.
One who stays in a shop, even if they live outside the town and the shop is in the town, and they are accustomed the rest of the year most times to eat there (in the shop) during the day, in any case, during Succot are obliged to eat in a succah.