Mezuzah Maven

For the week ending 8 September 2018 / 28 Elul 5778

Removing Roof for Succot

by Rabbi Ze'ev Kraines
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Q: We had the privilege of designing our home, and we took advantage of that opportunity to build a removable roof over our dining room. Every year we remove the roof and replace it with schach for an instant Succah.

This past year I was putting my roof back after the Chag together with my son who was back home after his first year in yeshiva. He asked me whether we should now take off the mezuzah and replace it with a new beracha.

His reasoning was that since the room has been a Succah and was thus exempt during the week of Succot, the mezuzah was “purposeless” during that time. Seemingly, we should now be required to affix the mezuzah again and not to rely on one that was affixed when the doorway was exempt.

Do I really need to take down and replace the mezuzahs after I replace the roof?

A: A stand-alone Succah is exempt from mezuzah as it is a temporary dwelling. However, the status of a room that one dwells in year-round and replaces its ceiling on Succot with schach is a matter of controversy. Some authorities write that during Succot, since he is living specifically in that room only because of the mitzvah, it is demoted to the status of a temporary dwelling and is exempt.

Some also opine that in the short gap between the removal of the ceiling and the placement of the schach, the roofless room might be seen to lose its mezuzah requirement altogether and gain a new obligation when the ceiling is replaced. Therefore, some authorities recommend removing the mezuzah after the ceiling has been replaced and reaffixing it without a beracha.

Nevertheless, the custom follows those opinions that assert that such a room retains its status as a permanent dwelling, and consequently the mezuzahs do not need to be replaced. They also reason that since the mezuzah was originally placed properly, it maintains its status even when some external factor exempts the room for a time.

  • Sources: Agur B’ohalecha 16:31:72; Sha’arei Teshuvah O.C. 627:7; Pischei Teshuvah 286:14; Chut Shani, Succot p. 204; Igros Moshe O.C. 5:40; Aruch HaShulchan 286:27; Cf. Mishnah Berurah O.C. 626:21

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