Laws & Customs of Sukkot

 

Sukkot is zman simchateinu, a time of joy and closeness with God after the intensity of Days of Awe. Below are some of the key halachik issues that arise during Sukkot. Please do not hesitate to reach out to ravari@svaj.org for any clarifications or with questions not addressed below.

 

Dwelling in the Sukkah

Our tradition encourages us to dwell in the Sukkah for the duration of Sukkot as we would dwell in our homes. The more activities one can do in the Sukkah, the better!

Eating in the Sukkah

It is a mitzvah to eat “substantial” food in the Sukkah. “Substantial” means foods where the blessings of mezonot or hamotzi are recited. When eating these foods in the Sukkah, one should recite:

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו מצותיו וצונו לישב ב

Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam Asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzinvanu leishev ba-sukkah.

 

All meals should be eaten in the Sukkah provided that eating in the Sukkah does not create distress (ie rain ruining food, extreme cold or wind that makes eating in the Sukkah very unpleasant even after bundling up). If on the first night it is raining or very cold, one should still make an effort to eat, or at the very least, make kiddush and hamotzi, in the Sukkah.

 

Kiddush

 

Kiddush is recited in the sukkah. On the first night, we recite kiddush followed by leshev basukkah followed by shehechiyanu. On the second night, the order is switched - kiddush, followed by shehechiyanu, followed by leshev basukkah.

 

Candles

 

On the first two nights of Sukkot, we light candles and recite the blessing “lehadlik ner shel yom tov” and shehechiyanu. If it can be done safely, candles should be lit in the sukkah. If there is any danger one should not do this. Candle lighting this year is at 6:08pm.

 

Taking the Lulav

 

It is a mitzvah to bless and shake the lulav over the entirety of Sukkot, except for on Shabbat. To perform this mitzvah, hold the lulav with the spine facing you and the Hadas (myrtle) on the right, the aravaot (willows) on the left, and the etrog with the pitom (opposite the stem) facing down. Then recite the blessings for the lulav (shehechiyanu on the first day, followed by asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vitzvanu al netilat lulav). Then, shake the four species together. The prevailing custom is to shake the lulav three times in each direction: front, to the right, behind, to the left, up and down.

 

Instructions on how to wave the lulav during the Hallel part of the Shacharit service will be given in shul.

One the first day of Sukkot, we have an additional obligation to own the lulav we are shaking. If someone does not have a lulav on the first day, a lulav should be given as a gift, with full ownership, to the person without a lulav, and then it should be shaken. The lulav can then be returned as a gift with full ownership to the original owner.

Chol Hamoed

 

The days between Yom Tov should be treated as special days as much as possible. Some ways to do this are to spend time doing joyful activities, minimizing the amount of melacha being performed, and taking time off work. If not going to work would create significant financial loss one should go to work.

 

There are different customs regarding the wearing of tefillin on Chol Hamoed. The prevailing custom among Ashkenazim is to not wear tefillin during Chol Hamoed.

 
Thu, December 14 2017 26 Kislev 5778