For the week ending 3 October 2020 / 15 Tishri 5781
Q & A - Succos
Questions & Answers
Question: According to the Torah, what three basic requirements define a material as valid for use as a succah roof?
Answer: It must grow from the ground, no longer be connected to the ground, and not be receptive to tumah (ritual defilement).
Question: If the succah causes discomfort (e.g. it's too cold) to the extent that under similar conditions you would leave your very own house, you are exempt from the mitzvah. Why?
Answer: Because the commandment of living in a succah is to dwell in the succah for seven days the same way you dwell in your house the rest of the year. (Mishneh Berura 640:13)
Question: What two things are forbidden to do outside of the succah all seven days of the festival?
Answer: Eat (an 'established' meal) or sleep. (Orach Chaim 639:2)
Question: What is the absolute minimum number of meals a person is required to eat in the succah during the seven day holiday?
Answer: One. Eating a meal in the succah the first night of Succot is a requirement. The rest of the festival, a person can eat 'snacks' which are not required to be eaten in a succah. (Outside Israel, one must eat a meal the second night of Succot as well. However, there is no requirement to live outside Israel!) (Orach Chaim 639:3)
Question: Besides referring to the tree and its fruit, what does the word etrog mean literally?
Answer: Beauty. (Ramban Vayikra 23:40)
Question: What is the minimum length of a lulav?
Answer: Its spine must be at least 4 tefachim (halachic handbreadths).
Question: What is the maximum percentage a person is required to add to the purchase price of his etrog in order to obtain one of greater beauty?
Answer: 33.3% (Orach Chaim 656:1)
Question: On the Shabbat that occurs during Succot, we read the Book of Kohelet, in which King Solomon refers to himself as "Kohelet." Why is King Solomon called Kohelet?
Answer: Because he gathered (kihale) vast wisdom, and because he, as king, gathered the nation on Succot after the Sabbatical year. (Rashi, Kohelet 1:1)
Question: What prohibition could a person transgress simply by sitting in the succah on the eighth day of Succot?
Answer: Bal Tosif- "Do not add to the mitzvahs." The commandment to live in the succah applies for only seven days. To sit in the succah on the eighth day with intent to fulfill the mitzvah transgresses "bal tosif." (Orach Chaim 666:1)
Question: We hold a tallit over the heads of the people who read the end of the Torah and the beginning of the Torah. Why?
Answer: It represents the wedding canopy, symbolizing that through the Torah we wed ourselves to Hashem.
All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated.