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    Succos Kashruth Questions

    I am visiting my parents for the first days of Sukkos and my in-laws for the last days. We hung up, in my parent’s Sukkah, decorations that my children made in school. Can we take them down and bring them with us and hang them in my in-law’s Sukkah?

    Not only does a Sukkah have special holiness, but the decorations are infused with holiness as well. One may not remove Sukkah decorations from a Sukkah for no reason, unless they were hung before Sukkos on condition that they should not become holy. (There is a specific wording that one must say to prevent them from becoming holy – “aini bodel mayhen kol bein hashmashos shel ches yamim.” [I do not separate myself from them all the twilights of the eight days (of Sukkos).]) However, if one is concerned that they will be ruined or stolen, they may be removed (Piskei Teshuvos 638:7 – citing Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l). Similarly, Tzitz Eliezer (13:67) writes that if the intent is to hang them in another Sukkah, this too is permitted. He explains that this is not considered “bizui mitzvah” (belittling of the mitzvah), since the decoration is being transferred to another Sukkah. Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita points out that one may not decrease the level of sanctity of the decorations. If the decorations were hanging from the s’chach, they should be hung again on the s’chach, which has a higher level of holiness than the walls (Mo’adim U’zmanim 6:68).

    Is a canvas sukkah kosher if the walls move in the wind?

    Sukkah walls that move in a regular wind are not valid walls. There are different opinions as to what type of movement invalidates a sukkah. To satisfy all opinions, the walls should not move in the wind at all (see Yechaveh Daas 3:46). This standard is difficult to achieve with a canvas sukkah. In the past few years, some sukkah merchants have addressed this concern by including stretchable straps with the canvas walls. The straps wrap around the sukkah. The first strap should be placed 40 inches above the ground. The next strap should be placed less than 9 inches below the first, and each subsequent strap should be placed within 9 inches of the strap above it, until the bottom strap is within 9 inches of the ground. Depending on the thickness of the straps, this will require stretching either four or five straps around the sukkah. This series of straps which do not move in the wind are considered halachically acceptable walls, based on a concept known as lovud. The principal of lovud states that the space between two objects that are within three tefachim (approximately 9 inches) of each other, is treated as sealed in the eyes of halachah. Thus the series of taut straps placed within 9 inches of each other form a halachically valid wall, irrespective of the canvas.

    I will be going away for the last days of Sukkos, and I do not need my Sukkah anymore. Can I take it down on Chol Hamoed before I leave?

    The Gemara (Sukkah 9a) derives from the verse (Vayikra 23:34) “The Chag of Sukkos shall be seven days for Hashem” that just as a Korban Chagiga (alluded to by the word “chag” which is seemingly superfluous) is sanctified to Hashem, so too a Sukkah becomes sanctified to Hashem. Shulchan Aruch (OC 638:1) writes that the s’chach and walls of a Sukkah may not be used for any other purpose during the chag. For example, one may not pull a splinter from the wood of the Sukkah to use as a toothpick. Even if the Sukkah fell down, one may not benefit from the wood until after Sukkos. It is not clear from Shulchan Aruch whether one may take down a Sukkah if no one will benefit from it. Sefer Ikrei HaDat (OC 2:68) discusses this question and concludes that taking down a Sukkah is “bizui mitzvah” (belittling of the mitzvah) and therefore it may only be taken down if there is a special necessity. Shoel Umaishiv (4:3:28) also seems to imply that this is not permitted. He writes that one may not even take s’chach off of one Sukkah to place on another. However, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l (Minchas Shlomo II:54) and L’horos Noson (7:47) both point out that there is a clear implication from Shulchan Aruch (666:1) that one may take down a Sukkah, once it is no longer needed. The Shulchan Aruch states that in Israel, on Hoshanah Rabba, once the Sukkah is no longer needed, one may remove a large section of the s’chach in order to permit sitting in the Sukkah on Shmini Atzeres and not be concerned about ba’al tosif. Of course, one may not benefit from the s’chach until after Sukkos. (Note, dismantling a Sukkah on Chol Hamoed involves melacha. This would be permitted only for the sake of Yom Tov [if the labor is non-skilled], or to avoid a loss.)