Talmud Navigator

For the week ending 1 March 2014 / 29 Adar I 5774

Succah 27 - 33

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

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  • How many holiday meals in the succah
  • Making up for the missed meal
  • A borrowed succah and one built on chol hamoed
  • Rabbi Eliezer’s position on leaving home for the holiday
  • The greatness of the Sages
  • The succah without a table
  • Obligation of women and children regarding succah
  • Making the succah your home and when you can leave it
  • The message of occurrences in heavenly bodies
  • Why some people suffer financial setbacks
  • A stolen or borrowed lulav
  • Buying hadassim from gentile land robbers
  • A stolen succah and a dried-up lulav
  • No adding to or subtracting from the four species
  • The lulav of a tree worshipped as an idol
  • Physical flaws that disqualify a lulav
  • Where we find lulav and hadass mentioned in the Torah
  • Different kinds of lulavim and hadassim
  • Required length of lulav, hadass and aravah
  • The hadass that shed its leaves or lost its head
  • Restoring a hadass to qualification

Did He Fulfill the Mitzvah?

  • Succah 28a

The elder Sages of the Torah academia of Beit Hillel and Beit Shmmai once visited Rabbi Yochanan ben Hacharanit on Succot and found him sitting in a succah with his table in the house. According to the Beit Shammai, Sages of a later generation, he was told by his visitors that if this was how he always conducted himself he had never fulfilled the mitzvah of succah throughout his life.

This incident is cited by Beit Shammai as support for their position that although the Torah does not require having the table inside the succah, there is a rabbinical decree to that effect in order to avoid the danger of leaving the succah to eat at the table in the house.

How literally are we to understand this statement, which seems to indicate that failure to abide by a rabbinical decree nullifies fulfillment of the Torah law?

Rabbeinu Nissim takes the position that Rabbi Yochanan did fulfill the Torah law and what his critics meant was that he failed to do the mitzvah in accordance with the will of the Sages who decreed that the table must be inside the succah. He cites a parallel in Mesechta Pesachim (116b), where it is stated that one who did not, on Pesach eve, explain the meaning of Pesach, Matzah and Maror failed to fulfill the mitzvah of haggada. There, too, he insists the meaning is that although he fulfilled the Torah command he failed to do a complete job by not complying with the rabbinical requirement.

There may, however, be another approach. Rabbeinu Yonah (Berachot 2a) posits that if one delays reciting the evening Shma till after the midnight deadline set by rabbinical decree (to ensure that he will not fall asleep before reciting the Shma), he is no longer able to fulfill that mitzvah despite the fact that according to Torah law he has all night to do so. It has been suggested that the same concept applies to succah.

What the Sages Say

“Because of four things the possessions of substantial people are lost – for delaying payment of wages, for withholding such payment, for shifting responsibility to others, and for haughtiness.”

  • The Sage Rav - Succah 29b

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