If Lubavitch is careful not to eat or drink anything outside of the sukka, why does Lubavitch not sleep in the Sukka?

  • Kopusters do not sleep as well.
    – YDK
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 2:58
  • Did the Lubavitcher Rebbe ever say that he personally did not sleep in the sukkah? Or just that the custom among the prior Rebbeim was thus?
    – Curiouser
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 1:37
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    @Curiouser: it seems to have varied among the Rebbeim themselves. The expression "how can one sleep in the sukkah" is from the Mittler Rebbe (the second rebbe in the line), but on the other hand we have a report of the Tzemach Tzedek (his successor) telling his attendant to sleep there. As for the last Rebbe, I don't know whether he ever publicly discussed his own practice, but it is known that indeed he didn't sleep there.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 4:32
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    @ Alex: Thanks; but how would his practice be known? Did someone observe him actually asleep at home? Could he not have slept in the sukkah when he was alone in it?
    – Curiouser
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 14:54
  • @Alex, I heard from the brother-in-law of my local sh'liach that the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe stayed in the sukkah for seven days without sleeping. Needless to say, that is a very unhealthy practice for anyone, especially someone of greater age (he was ~50 when he became rebbe after all) Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 22:00

4 Answers 4


I do not have a source for this, but I have heard that Belz's also doesnt sleep in the sukkah.

The reason why Lubavitch does not sleep in the sukkah is explained by the Rebbe in Likkutei Sichos Vol. 29 p. 211

It is very simple to summarize. There is a halacha that if you are uncomfortable in the sukkah you can leave. When it rains most people don't eat in the sukkah but Lubavitch especially the Rebbe was seen many a pouring rain drenched in the sukkah. How then could we not sleep in it? Well it was bitterly cold in Russia. That is not the answer either. The answer is as follows.

The Sukkah al pi kabbalah represents the Makif D'Binah, loosely translated as a transcendent encompassing level of Understanding of Hashem. If you have any perception of this, it is a quite overwhelming level of G-dliness in the Sukkah. It is possible to eat and learn Torah in the Sukkah, but sleep? Impossible. The Chabad Rebbeim literally could not sleep there. [Some say that the Rebbe did not sleep the entire festival of Sukkos, and was therefore able to fulfill both the Halacha and Kabbalah of Sleeping in the Sukkah, or at least did not go to sleep, but rather would just learn until he fell asleep]. What about us? We don't perceive the Makif D'Binah and we wouldn't make it 7 days without sleeping. The answer is that we have such a level of Hiskashrus to our Rebbe that we are pained that he is pained as well as pained that we can't perceive this level of G-dliness. .

On a personal note, I left Lubavitch some years ago and slept in the Sukkah and always was disturbed by something, ie: a dog barking all night, air mattress going flat, and finally the Sukkos before I made my way back to Lubavitch roots I was viciously bitten by insects to the point that I had at least 50 bites on my body.

That was my Makif D'Binah.

The sources for all of this is found in the Sicha quoted above. If you agree or not, this issue was analyzed by the Rebbe with a microscope and if you actually learn the Sicha it is hard to say he is wrong in what he says regardless if you choose to sleep in the sukkah or not.

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    Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapter 639, does not include "I'm sad about not being as holy as my rebbe" as a valid reason for ignoring a mitzvas aseh d'oraisa.
    – user1095
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 17:25
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    As stated below which is why i wont elaborate, the Rogatchover and the Baal HaTanya both rule that sleeping is not an essential part of the mitzvah. Psychological distress is just as valid as physical distress. Please source your opinions. The following sources support my stance. Mishna, Sukkah 20b Code of Jewish Law 639 Code of Jewish Law 640:4 Mordechai Sukkah 741 Rabbeinu Manoach Commentary to Rambam 3:6 6. Levush 640:4 7. Ramo 639:2 8. Taz 639:9
    – user1292
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 19:24
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    The Baal Hatanya in Shulchan Aruch Harav 639 says to sleep in the sukkah.
    – sam
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 2:58
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    How can someone not sleep for 7 days? It violates an explicit gemara (Shevuot 25a) which says it is impossible to avoid sleeping for 3 consecutive days.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 1:20
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    @Curiouser The Rama (OC 640:4) mentions fear of bandits attacking you in the Sukkah as a reason to be exempt due to mitztair.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 2:57

I am a Lubavitcher Chassisd myself that learns in a Lithuanian yeshiva. Before Sukkos one year, during a Halacha class, my rebbe was speaking about this topic of sleeping in the sukkah, and I mentioned that in Chabad they don't sleep in the Sukkah because its too holy. He got really angry at that and said "Well we follow like the Shulchan Aruch" and then went on to call that practice a denial and the Rebbe ztk"l a denier of halacha, heaven forbid, for instituting such a practice. I was really disturbed about that for a while so I decided to do some research and I found this: The Rebbe's position was not because of holiness, but rather because of discomfort: one with discomfort is exempt from sukkah. But then poskim ask on this: but discomfort is only physical elements like hot and cold? And the Rebbe answered that question by saying that if one has discomfort it doesn't matter why, one is exempt because of "teishvu k'ein t'duru" (the obligation is to live in a sukkah as one lives in a home). For example, if one would have a holy article in his bedroom (e.g. an antique holy book) he couldn't bring himself to sleep there. So too by Sukkah. However, if one does not sense the holiness and is therefore not discomforted, he has no exemption, which is why I do sleep in the sukkah.

  • A gutn moed; welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for your informative answer. I've edited it so it is more readable by more people (cf. meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1606). Might I suggest you edit the post to include also where you found the results of your research? That would better enable readers to evaluate its reliability. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site!
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 20:29
  • Stam, the Rebbe says in the famous Sicha that even one who is comfortable to sleep in a sukka should still not. Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 21:09

The Rebbe actually addressed this question in a letter dated 7 Cheshvan, 5715 [1954]:

Re Sleeping in the Succah In order to safeguard and inspire a greater feeling toward the Succah, sleeping in it is not practiced by us. The basis for this is two-fold: First, we have a rule that Hamitztaer putter min HaSuccah (suffering exempts one from dwelling in the Succah). Secondly, during sleep a person is not in control of himself, and, furthermore, the very act of undressing and dressing, etc. inevitably creates a common-place attitude towards the place which serves as a bedroom. Such a depreciation of attitude toward the Succah (by sleeping in it, as explained above), from what his attitude should properly be towards the Mitzvoth of G-d whereby He has sanctified all Jews, would be deeply felt by the Chabad Chassid by virtue of his Chassidic teachings and upbringing, and would cause him profound spiritual suffering. The combination of these two considerations, therefore, led to the custom not to sleep in the Succah. However, if a Jew feels absolutely certain that his sleeping in the Succah will not in the slightest affect his attitude toward the sanctity of the Succah, and is consequently free from any mental pain that might be caused thereby, he is duty-bound to sleep in it, in accordance with the fullest meaning of Taishvu K'ain taduru, to make his Succah his dwelling place to the utmost.

(Excerpt of letter taken from L'chaim # 688 )

BTW, @mochin rehavim wrote:

I do not have a source for this, but I have heard that Belz's also doesnt sleep in the sukkah.

The Rebbe mentioned this 10 Sivan 5750 – During distribution of dollars for Tzedoka- (the whole conversation can be found in Toras Menachem 5750 Vol 4, P. 325) - where R' Zvi Kahana asked the Rebbe this very question.

PS: To anyone that knows about / read / watched the above 'dollars' encounter and was wondering what was the Rebbe's 'nekudah', well, I saw a blog post about this and one commenter by the name of guravitzer summed it up very well:

Chasidim and Misnagdim disagreed over many things. In the first 2 generations or more, they believed each other to be minim and apikorsim - Misnagdim for not having Yiras Shomayim, Chasidim for not following Shulchan Aruch. In the eyes of Lubavitch, that ended in the time of the Tzemach Tzedek, where as we put it Chasidim discovered that Misnagdim are yere shomayim as well, and Misnagdim discovered that Chasidim follow Shulchan Aruch. They ceased to consider each other a threat, or kofrim, and focused on the Maskilim and the various governments oppressing them. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY AGREED WITH EACH OTHER IN MATTER OF HALACHAH OR HASHKAFAH. But the fact that they would work together means they considered each other to be ehrliche Yidden, with reasonable heterim for their behaviors. There was no peace with the Maskilim or the Tzionim for these leaders, as they were truly kofrim.

Thus: The Volozhiners still disagreed with the Rebbeim on all the issued that exist between Chassidim and the other parties. However, they ceased to be opponents. If they felt that not sleeping in the sukkah, or any other issue that the Mirrer RY could have brought up, were reason to lump Lubavitch with the Maskilim, or even to not consider them Frume leaders, they would have said so. Jewish debate was vociferous then - have you read the manifestos about Tzionus?

Nowadays, this is one of the questions used an excuse to be opponents once more. The Rebbe was not asking for all Misnagdim to become Chasidim and agree with all of our Minhogim. The Rebbe wondered why the opposition was revived, which had died out previously, and pointed out one of the weapons used. If the Volozhiners had wanted to be opponents, that could have pulled this out of their arsenal as well.

  • Slight error in that blog post: Chassidim never considered misnagdim to be "minim and apikorsim."
    – HodofHod
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 23:18
  • @HodofHod Good point, you're right.
    – Danield
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 6:32
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    actually, for that very reason I didn't include a link to the blog post!
    – Danield
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:23
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    I don't understand the Rebbe's wonderment (as expressed by the random commentor). When enemies find common ground against a common enemy, that doesn't mean they start liking each other. Why should anyone be surprised if the original arguments resurface after some initial other threat passes? It's completely obvious that someone who is mavatel aseh deorayta of sleeping in the sukkah is not as bad as one who is kofer betorah min hashamayim. To think that working with Chassidim to fight Maskilim implies a given Shittah of the Chassidim is even an acceptable hava amina is nonsense.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 23:41
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    I see further in the link that the Rebbe accuses those who argue on the Chasidim for not sleeping in the Sukkah of trying to arouse Sinat Chinnam. This is clearly a circular argument. Only if you assume that the practice of skipping a mitzvat aseh deorayta has some acceptable basis would arguing against it be termed Sinat Chinnam. If you assume that the practice of skipping a mitzvat aseh deorayta is actually harming our odds at a speedy Geulah then obviously you would campaign against it.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 23:59

The reason Chabad Chasidim do not sleep in the Succah is Kabalistic. The enclosed links explains it.




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    Please include at least a brief summary
    – yydl
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 23:15
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    @yydl, it's too long for me to summarize comfortably, but briefly: (a) according to the Rogatchover and the Baal Hatanya, sleeping in the sukkah is not essential to the complete fulfillment of the mitzvah, unlike eating and drinking there; (b) the Chabad rebbeim found it difficult to sleep in the sukkah because of its tremendous holiness; (c) we chassidim follow our rebbeim, and indeed would experience distress if we couldn't do so.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 1:43

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