14 Sep SITTING IN THE SUKKAH ON SHEMINI ATZERES
The subject of whether one should sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres has been the topic of debate and discussion since time immemorial. There are many who have the custom not to sit in the sukkah (mainly chassidim), while there are many others who do. Others have the custom to eat there at night and not by day, or to only make Kiddush in the sukkah by day and then go inside. There are those who sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, but their in-laws do not. What should they do? When people go to Eretz Yisrael for Sukkos where there is only one day of Yom Tov, should they sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres? We will discuss some of the halachos and opinions related to this sensitive but important and practical area of halachah.
The Gemara in Sukkah vacillates between different opinions on the halachos of sitting in the sukkah and reciting a brachah of Leisheiv Basukkah on Shemini Atzeres, when there is a safeik over whether it is included in the Yom Tov of Sukkos. One interpretation is that all opinions agree that no brachah is made, but the argument is over whether one should sit in the sukkah. Another interpretation is that all agree that one should not sit in the sukkah, but the argument is over whether the brachah is made. The Gemara concludes that one should sit in the sukkah without reciting the brachah, because it would seem odd to do so; if it is Shemini Atzeres then it is not Sukkos, and if it is Sukkos it is not Shemini Atzeres. In addition, if one recited the brachah it would look like he was adding to the Yom Tov of Sukkos, which is not allowed because of bal tosif (adding to a mitzvah). According to all opinions, one does not take arba minim on Shemini Atzeres. They are considered muktzeh, since there is a safeik whether Shemini Atzeres is part of Sukkos. There are those who say that since only the first day of Yom Tov is d’Oraisa and the other days are d’Rabbanan, on Shemini Atzeres we are lenient with it and do not take them. However, sitting in a sukkah can be beneficial for a person even if he is not doing it for a mitzvah (e.g. it is comfortable to sit there), and therefore can be considered oneg Yom Tov. The opinion that one should sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres is quoted by many poskim (in Chutz L’Aretz). Those who eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres should train their children to do the same. In Eretz Yisrael, where there is only one day of Yom Tov for both Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, no one eats in the sukkah. As mentioned above, since the Gemara and many poskim maintain that sitting in the sukkah is required on Shemini Atzeres (in Chutz L’Aretz), then why do so many not eat in the sukkah?
The Turquotes a custom of some to eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres but not to sleep there. However, he says the custom is not to do this, and those who sit in the sukkah should sit there by night and by day. There are those who make Kiddush, eat a bit in the sukkah and eat the rest of the meal in the house. Others do not eat in the sukkah at all on Shemini Atzeres (see below). Although the following poskim disagree, they quote the custom of some who did not sit in the sukkah: Shiltei Giborim, Elyah Rabbah, Darchei Moshe, Beis Yosef, Taz, Magen Avraham, Yosef Ometz, Be’er Heitiv, Noda B’Yehudah, Chachmas Shlomo, and others.
THOSE WHO DID NOT EAT IN THE SUKKAH ON SHEMINI ATZERES
Although there are many poskim who say one should eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, there are Rishonim who say it is not required and was not done. Rashi says that in his times there were many gedolim (such as Rabbeinu Eliezer and Rabbeinu Shmuel) who did not eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres at night.In the thirteenth to fourteenth century, it is written that some did not sit in the sukkah. The reason for the leniency was based on the Yerushalmi (see below). Rabbeinu Chananel says the custom is to sit the entire day in the sukkah. The fact that he said “entire” indicates that there were those who did not sit the entire day in the sukkah in his days. The Maharam Igra ate in his house at night and in the sukkah during the day. The Maharil went to visit Harav Meir M’Igra who ate in his house, and he did not object to it. The Lombardi family (in Italy) did not eat in the sukkah. The custom of the Baal Shem Tov was not to eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. He practiced the custom of Eretz Yisrael because he lived with the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael. The Yosef Ometz says the Taryash family (about the sixteenth century) ate outside the sukkah, and they have upon whom to rely. Some explain that there are those who ate inside at night because it was cold at night and the sukkah was not pleasant (see below). They ate in the house because if they ate in the sukkah it would appear as if they were doing it for the mitzvah and not for oneg. One can see from the above sources that the custom of many to refrain from eating in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres did not begin with chassidim; rather, it started much earlier.
THOSE WHO ATE IN THE SUKKAH
Rashi ate in the sukkah during the day and night of Shemini Atzeres.Rashi’s rebbi Rabbeinu Yitzchak also sat in the sukkah. The Maharil ate in the sukkah during both night and day. The Gra ate in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. The Chasam Sofer zt”l ate in the sukkah. Harav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik zt”l opined strongly that one must sit in the sukkah.
As mentioned above, some gedolim did not eat in the sukkah based on the Yerushalmi that says: Sukkah on the seventh day, how? …you need to make your sukkah pasul from midday and make Kiddush in your home. Rav Chanina says one whose sukkah is pleasant should make Kiddush on the night (see below) of the last days of Sukkos in his house and eat in the sukkah. If he wants to eat in the sukkah he still has to make Kiddush in his house, because when he says “Shemini Atzeres” in Kiddush, if he is still in the sukkah it is a contradiction. It is apparent from the Yerushalmi that if the sukkah is not pleasant (e.g. if it is cold or windy) then one does not have to sit in it on Shemini Atzeres. Some explain that the Yerushalmi is referring to Eretz Yisrael, where there is only one day of Yom Tov, and even if one enjoys being in the sukkah he makes Kiddush in the house. However, others say the Yerushalmi said nights, which indicates that even in Chutz L’Aretz, where there are two days of Yom Tov, one should make Kiddush in his house.
There is a chiddush on the reason why people do not eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres: As mentioned above, there are two interpretations of the halachah regarding sitting in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, and the Gemara says the final halachah. However, Rav Yehudah ben Kalonimus says that the line in the Gemara that “the halachah is to sit but not [recite] a brachah” is not part of the original Gemara and was added in later. Generally, if there are two interpretations of a Gemara we follow the second. In this case, the second interpretation is that all agree not to sit in the sukkah but the argument is over whether a brachah is recited. Accordingly, he says we should not sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. He further questions, how we can sit in the sukkah after we ask for rain? Additionally, how can we say in Kiddush that it is Shemini Atzeres and then sit in the sukkah? According to this, why does anyone sit in the sukkah? He says that since Chazal said there have to be two days of Yom Tov in Chutz L’Aretz, if we do not sit in the sukkah on any of those days then they are definitely not Sukkos, and there is a concern of making Yom Tov disgraceful.
OTHER REASONS FOR THE LENIENT CUSTOM
One should not think that those who do not eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres are doing something against halachah, as there are reasons for their practice. Many great people have eaten outside the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. The Aruch Hashulchan offers the following reason why many are lenient with sitting and eating in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres: If one would sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres in a way that appears to be for the mitzvah of sitting in the sukkah, it would not be allowed. However, sitting in the sukkah if it is not for the mitzvah is permitted. In places where it is pleasant outside, one must sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres just as he did the entire Yom Tov. (Since it is hot, it can be argued that it is not recognizable one is doing it for the mitzvah and therefore it is not a problem to do so on Shemini Atzeres as well). However, in cold countries, if we were to exempt ourselves from sitting in the sukkah because of the weather, an entire Yom Tov could pass without sitting in the sukkah. Therefore, we have to sit in the sukkah and sleep there even if it is cold. On Shemini Atzeres, according to the strict halachah, one must sit in the sukkah in a way that it does not appear that he is doing it for the mitzvah of sitting in the sukkah. This is not possible if it is very cold, since in that case one would only sit in the sukkah for a mitzvah. Therefore, there needs to be a heker so that it does not look like it is being done for the mitzvah. If one sleeps in the sukkah all Sukkos, he should not sleep there on Shemini Atzeres. One who does not sleep in the sukkah on Sukkos needs a different heker. Either he should not eat there at night, or he should eat there during the day only a bit and rest inside afterward. A heker would be to eat in the sukkah by day and leave right away, to show he is not doing it for a mitzvah. T h e Ye r u s h a l m i appears to say that one should not sit in the sukkah on the eighth day of Sukkos. However, some say that the Yerushalmi is not arguing with the Gemara in Sukkah above, but it is talking about Eretz Yisrael and not Chutz L’Aretz, where there is an additional day because of a safeik. At night, some do not eat in the sukkah because one says Shehecheyanu on Shemini Atzeres at night, and if you are eating in the sukkah it is a contradiction to the Shehecheyanu that it is a new Yom Tov. They are of the opinion that the Gemara that said to sit in the sukkah was referring to during the day, when no Shehecheyanu is recited. Some do not sit in the sukkah by day either, since we ask for rain on Shemini Atzeres, and if we still sit in the sukkah then we will not want rain yet and the tefillah will not be sincere (see below). Others say a reason to be lenient and not sit in the sukkah is because on Shemini Atzeres night one comes home late from shul and is very tired, and it is a bother to take the food etc. to the sukkah. If one does it, he is clearly only doing it because of the mitzvah of sukkah and not because it is pleasant, and it may be a concern of bal tosif. Therefore, the custom of many is not to sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres night. The Sfas Emes explains that when the Gemara says one should sit in the sukkah but no brachah is made, it was not saying one is obligated to sit in the sukkah, but rather that one is allowed to do so. Some mention if it is cold outside one should not sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, but in areas of Chutz L’Aretz that are warm, one may not use this heter (see below). Others also point out that the Gemara that says one should sit in the sukkah was only referring to warm climates. The Likutei Maharich says that because of this reasoning many people do not sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, especially at night when it is cold and the sukkah is not pleasant to sit in. If one has the sukkah in his house (i.e. his roof opens) he has no heter not to eat there, even on Shemini Atzeres. Harav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik zt”l says the custom not to eat in the sukkah is incorrect and originated when the chassidishe rebbes would invite all their chassidim over to eat and hear divrei Torah, but the sukkah was not big enough. Since it would pain them not to hear their rebbe, they all ate outside the sukkah. Eventually, they forgot the reason why they did so (namely, that there was no room) and they accepted not to eat in the sukkah as a custom of chassidim. This reason is quoted by the Maharshag, the Moadim V’zmanim and others.
SITTING VS. SLEEPING
Those who hold one should sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres may eat there but should not sleep there, because when one eats in the sukkah he is making a heker that it is not Yom Tov since he is not making a brachah, but there is no heker when one sleeps there. However, others say that one may sleep in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres as well. The custom follows the latter opinion and one may sleep in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. The Gra was so stringent with sleeping in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres that even though if it is cold on other nights of Sukkos one does not have to sleep in the sukkah, on Shemini Atzeres he told his students to wear coats etc. and still sleep in the sukkah even if it was cold. The Chasam Sofer slept in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres.
EATING IN THE SUKKAH ON SHEMINI ATZERES
Those who eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres should not linger there, but should eat and leave quickly. There are those who say that on Shemini Atzeres, one should not eat foods in the sukkah that would not require a Leisheiv Basukkah on Sukkos, but the custom is that one may eat those foods in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. In addition, those who eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres should not eat there until it is dark (i.e. they should not daven Ma’ariv early and eat before nightfall), or else it may still be Sukkos and they would have to recite a brachah of Leisheiv Basukkah.
SUKKAH FOR DAYTIME KIDDUSH
Many have the custom not to eat in the sukkah at night on Shemini Atzeres, but to make Kiddush in the sukkah by day, eat some Mezonos, and then go inside for the meal. Some explain that the whole meal is not eaten there because we daven for rain on Shemini Atzeres and one wants his tefillah to be answered (and he will not eat in the sukkah if it’s raining). Another reason is to show that we are not doing it for the mitzvah, since we are eating the main meal inside. In addition, if one would eat the whole meal in the sukkah in a cold climate, it would seem he was doing it for the mitzvah. This was the custom of the Munkatchers, as well as that of Rav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov and others.
As mentioned above, according to
some poskim, if it is cold outside one
does not have to eat in the sukkah on
Shemini Atzeres. Therefore, one may
think the halachah may be different in a
hot place. However, this is not so. Even
if one is in a place where it is warm
outside, one who has the custom not to
sit in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres can
follow his custom, especially in places
where it is hot and uncomfortable to
sit outside. The customs date back
hundreds of years, and one may follow
his custom irrelevant of the specific
climate where he is residing at that
If one forgot to set the lights in
the sukkah to go on, Harav Yaakov
Kamenetsky zt”l says that he should sit
in the house, because if he sits in the
dark it is recognizable that he is doing
it for a mitzvah. Others say one should
ask a non-Jew to turn on the lights.
SUKKOS IN ERETZ YISRAEL
It is very common for people from
Chutz L’Aretz to go to Eretz Yisrael for
Sukkos, and they are required to keep
two days of Yom Tov. Are they allowed
to sit in the sukkah there on Shemini
Atzeres, even though nobody there sits
in the sukkah on that day?
The poskim discuss this question.
Some say if one is going to a hotel or
house that he owns/rents where there
will be a sukkah available, then he
should eat in the sukkah if that is what
he does in America.
If he does not eat in the sukkah at
home then he should not do so in Eretz
Yisrael.Some argue that one should
not sit in the sukkah. Others say if
the sukkah is in a public place one
should not sit there, because it may be
a disgrace to those in Eretz Yisrael who
do not sit in the sukkah. Still others
maintain that one should eat in the
house or hotel at night, and during the
day he should eat in the sukkah.
However, if one goes to visit someone
who lives in Eretz Yisrael, he should eat
with him in the house. The reason for
this is that it is a bother to ask hosts to
set up tables etc. in the sukkah if they
do not eat there. Also, many people do
not eat in the sukkah at all on Shemini
Atzeres in Chutz L’Aretz, so there are
reliable opinions to do so. In addition,
there are poskim who say if one will end
up sitting alone in the sukkah then this
is considered painful, and one who is in
pain does not have to eat in the sukkah.
Sometimes parents take their
(married) children to Eretz Yisrael for
Sukkos and the sons-in-law may have
the custom to sit in the sukkah; they
should continue to do so even if the inlaws
do not and they should go inside
ERETZ YISRAEL JEW IN
If one who lives in Eretz Yisrael comes
to Chutz L’Aretz and is staying with
someone who sits in the sukkah, he
should sit in the sukkah as well. He
should sleep in the house to show that
it is definitely not Sukkos for him, but
this should be done privately. However,
if the person is alone in the house, he
should eat in the house.
ONE WHO DOES
NOT HAVE A CUSTOM
If one does not have a specific custom,
he should sit in the sukkah on Shemini
Atzeres. Some poskim say that even
if his father has the custom not to sit
in the sukkah, one should sit in the
sukkah even against his father’s will.
However, this should not be done
without discussing it with one’s rav
beforehand. In any case, if one’s parent
is makpid, it is not in the spirit of Yom
Tov for the son to sit in the sukkah and
the parent to sit inside the house.
A complicated question can arise
when one has the custom to eat in the
sukkah and his in-laws do not. Some
will not go to their in-laws on Shemini
Atzeres to avoid this. It seems that if one
does go he should not eat in the sukkah,
since it will cause friction and pain, and
one who is in pain does not have to sit
in the sukkah. Some mention in either
case one should continue his custom of
sitting in the sukkah and come in for
zemiros or dessert.
Although the Gemara says that one
should sit in the sukkah on Shemini
Atzeres we have a number of reasons to
be lenient. The custom not to sit there
actually dates back many centuries and
was not made up by chassidim, and
there are many sources for this practice:
• The Yerushalmi quoted above that
gives a lenient opinion.
• The opinion quoted above that the
line of the Gemara was not placed there
by the writers of the Gemara, but by
others at a later time.
• Out of the concern of reciting
Shehecheyanu and eating in the sukkah,
which appears to be a contradiction.
• There is concern that it appears to be
adding to the mitzvah of sukkah.
• The Sfas Emes who says that the
Gemara did not mean that one has to
sit in the sukkah, but that one may sit
there if he wishes.