4

In many shuls, I see that the hired Gentile custodian constructs the entire succah including laying down the schach.

I understood that some part of the succah must be done by a Jew - at the least, laying down the schach. I also understood that the Shehechiyanu brachah said during the first night Kiddush is partly for the mitzvah of constructing the succah.

Can a Gentile construct the entire succah? Is he considered a shaliach mitzvah? (I gather that a Gentile can never be a shaliach, as he is not obligated in this type of mitzvah, anyway.)

9

The Bavli (Sukkah 8b) explicitly permits a gentile's hut if it was made for shade, and that is the accepted Halakha (OC 635).

This is consistent with Beit Hillel's opinion (ibid. 9a) that a Sukkah does not need to be made specifically for the holiday of Sukkot. Some note though that the Yerushalmi there says that Beit Hillel agrees that you need to make a bit of the Sukkah for the holiday. Accordingly some (eg. Beir Heitev OC 635) recommend that if a gentile constructed the hut you should redo something small like lifting up and putting back down a small bit of Sekhakh. (Possibly the case of a gentile constructing a Sukkah for the holiday is even more lenient, cf. OC 11:2.)

  • For a detailed overview (incl. the evident omission of the Yerushalmi among the poskim) see R. Ovadiah Yosef's Yechaveh Daat vol. 6 §41. Additionally, if the non Jew was hired by a Jew to build the sukkah then even the "preferable" fixing of the sechach or other minor work is absolutely unnecessary as laid down "hired work is like considered work of the employer". – Oliver Oct 2 '17 at 18:12
  • @Oliver "hired work is like considered work of the employer". Can you provide a link for that statement or just cite its source. My curiosity on this is what was in my question about a messenger for a mitzvah being like the person himself. However, does this rule apply to a Gentile who is not obligated in the mitzvah to start? – DanF Oct 2 '17 at 20:47
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    @DanF R. Efraim Navon in Machaneh Efraim (Laws of Agents §11) – Oliver Oct 2 '17 at 21:23
3

Summarizing the citations below, it is completely permissible for a gentile to build a succha for a Jew. However it is better for the Jew to work on it himself as explained by the Mishna Berurah below.

Non Jew Fixing Sukka

See Shulchan Aruch O:C 635, that a sukkah made by a non Jew is fit for use on Sukkot, see also Shu”t Chelkat Yaakov [tinyana, siman 4].

Mishna Breura Orech Chaim 635:1 Explicitly states (my translation)

... even if their are two bad points such as non-Jewish shepherds it is still kosher.

May a non-Jew build a sukkah

A second issue is one discussed by Rav Avrohom Aveli Gombiner5 and Rav Yaakov Ettlinger6. They write that although the Gemara rules that a sukkah built by a non-Jew is valid, nonetheless, לכתחילה one should not commission a non-Jew to build a sukkah. The reason is that one who is not obligated in a mitzvah should not perform that mitzvah. Mishnah Berurah7 cites the opinion of Rav Gombiner and writes that although halachically there is no requirement to be careful regarding this matter, nonetheless, one should be cautious when possible.

7 מ“ב סי‘ תרמ“ט ס“ק י“ד

Mishna Berurah 649:14

שאגדו כותי ועשאו כשר כמו סוכת כותי (מרדכי ה"ק)

When a gentile ties (the four species) and makes it just like the case of a succah made by a gentile.

יד ... ועיין במגן אברהם שדעתו דלחתחלה לא יאגדנו והטעם דכל שאינו מחוייב בדבר אינו רשאי לתקנו ומטעם זה גם אשה לא תאגוד הלולב לחתחילה ועיין שם בביאור הלכה שביררנו דמדינא אין חשש בדבר ומכל מקום טוב ליזהר בזה

The gemara on Succah 8b (ArtScroll 8b1) says

תנו רבנן גנבך סוכה גוים ...

A succah of gentiles ...

Note 10

10 A succah built by gentiles to reside in during the summer months

כשרה ובלבד שתהא מסוככת כהלכתה

Is kosher as long as it is covered in accordance with its law

אמר רב חסדא והוא שעשאה לצל

Rav Chisdah explains Provided it is covered to the point that it is obvious it was built originally for the purpose of providing shade

Note 16

16 ... For although we follow Bais Hillel that a succah need not have been built originally to be used as a succah on Succos (see Mishna, 9a), we do require that it be built at least for the purpose of providing shade, for strictly translated, the word "sucah" means a "shade providing shelter"(Rashi)

see also Mishna Berurah 635:1

  • @mevaqesh I changed th reference to copy from the Daf Yomi Digest which actually gives the source from the Mishna Berurah which is in the section on tying the arba minim. – sabbahillel Oct 2 '17 at 19:05
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    The passage about what Rav Avrohom Aveli Gombiner5 and Rav Yaakov Ettlinger wrote says that the reason not to hire a gentile to build a sukkah is that one who isn't obligated in a mitzvah shouldn't perform it. But is building a sukkah a mitzvah? I was taught that the mitzvah is to dwell in it, but I don't need to build it myself. – Monica Cellio Oct 2 '17 at 20:18
  • Does it have to be specifically for shade, or would keeping things dry or for sleeping (say a leanto in the forest) qualify as well? – DanF Oct 2 '17 at 20:55
  • @DanF Just what is said in the gemara and shulchan aruch, it needs to have the correct shade set up. Further details should e asked of a rav. – sabbahillel Oct 2 '17 at 21:43
  • @MonicaCellio That is why the basic din is that it is allowed. The idea is that it is being built so that a mitzvah can be done with it. As a result, one should be involved in the building even though it is not required. – sabbahillel Oct 2 '17 at 21:44

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