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17 votes
Accepted

If the lulav and etrog are biblically mandated, how were people in cold climates able to obtain them before modern times?

It seems, according to this article, that people found a way. It would seem that as long as Jews stayed in the moderate climate on the shores of the Mediterranean, there was no difficulty obtaining ...
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13 votes

Which etrog is closest to the gemara's description of "the taste of the tree trunk and its fruit are alike"?

I had an opportunity for the first time today to see the inside of four common etrogim. I found it fascinating ... and surprising. Here's a Moroccan etrog Here's a Hazon Ish etrog (for more details, ...
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12 votes

Why is the wording of the beracha upon shaking the arba minim only on lulav?

The Gemara (Sukkah 37B) asks the same question: R. Jeremiah enquired of R. Zerika, Why in the blessing do we say only ‘To take the palm-branch’? — Because it towers above the others. Then why ...
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12 votes
Accepted

Why do we do hosha'nos and hakafos counterclockwise?

Mishna Berura 660:1:3 says that when the Sefer Torah is on the Bimah those on the Mizrach (eastern wall) turn around to face the Torah their right side is now facing Tzafon (north) therfore they start ...
11 votes

Sukkah: Why not tough it out?

As the Mishnah Berurah there explains, it’s because of תשבו כעין תדורו - one lives in the sukkah as he would in his house. You would leave your house if it was causing you significant discomfort, so ...
  • 38.6k
10 votes

Can too many decorations render a sukkah invalid?

Even if there's a decoration that completely covers the schach, if it's placed there merely for decoration, than it isn't a problem, provided that the decorations are within 4 tefachim of the schach (...
9 votes
Accepted

How do you maximize your aravot's period of freshness?

I've tried the paper towel/aluminum foil (my father's method) idea, keeping them in the fridge, and keeping them in water. One year I got a whole lot of them and experimented with around seven ...
8 votes
Accepted

Can you build a succah on Sukkot?

This is a Machloket in the Talmud (Sukkah 27b, see OC 637) and the Halacha follows the Sages that one can start building a Sukkah on Chol HaMoed. Even R Eliezer who argued there agreed that if one's ...
  • 95.7k
8 votes
Accepted

Does the Date of Sukkot Correspond to Any Particular Event?

The Tur (O.C. 625) indicates that you are correct in your question, as he explains why Sukkos isn't in the spring, since we got the huts after we left Egypt in the spring, and it should be then that ...
8 votes
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Why is Hallel different in Sukkot and Pesach (chol ha-moed)?

The Talmud asks this question. The Yerushalmi (Sukkah 5:1) answers simply that Hallel is read all week on Sukkot due to the ongoing Mitzva of the Lulav (which is taken and waved during Hallel). The ...
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8 votes

Sukkah: Why not tough it out?

I would like to potentially challenge the premise of the question. You assume that the threshold of "someone who is in pain" only applies to the mitzvah of succah. However, R. Joseph Messas has a ...
  • 48.2k
8 votes

Who said the "sukkot" were really "clouds of glory"?

This is simply understood as a dispute in girsaos. In terms of historically who said what, how could we know? In terms of halacha, the Aruch LaNer ad. loc., and in his Bikkurei Yaakov 625:2, says that ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Why do we say Ushpizin in Aramaic?

In my book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press, 2015), on page 232 I wrote: This idea comes up again in another, closely related, discussion. According to Kabbalah, on ...
7 votes

Does the Date of Sukkot Correspond to Any Particular Event?

The Gra (commentary to Canticles 1:4) explains that the Clouds of Glory returned to the Jewish camp on 15 Tishrei after leaving due to the sin of the Golden Calf. (He reasons that Moshe came down with ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Seventy Aravos on Succos

The reason for taking seventy aravot on Succot was to signify the additional seventy bulls which were sacrificed on the holiday (cf. Sukka 52b); such was the custom of the Sura Academy as attested to ...
  • 11.8k
7 votes
Accepted

Can one drink a beer outside the Sukkah?

"And it is permitted to drink water and wine and eat fruit [even if he established himself on them- REMA's own opinion] outside of the Sukkah. And he who is stringent upon himself, and will not drink ...
  • 10.5k
6 votes

Customs for waving arba minim three times in each direction

The Yerushalmi Sukka 15b halacha 8 seems to be the source for shaking three times : דף טו,ב פרק ג הלכה ח גמרא הא בהודו לא. להוציא אף באנא ה' הצליחה נא. רב חייה בר אשי בשם רב זה שהוא משכים לצאת ...
  • 39.9k
5 votes

Lubavitch not sleeping in a Sukka?

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 ...
  • 51
5 votes

How do you maximize your aravot's period of freshness?

I was just referred to "How to keep your aravos fresh throughout sukkos: The definitive guide for frustrated palm-frond wavers", an apparently anonymous document describing a series of nine ...
  • 46.9k
5 votes

Why is Hallel different in Sukkot and Pesach (chol ha-moed)?

Mishnah Berurah (Orahh Hayim, Siman 644, Se'if Qatan 4) states (my translation): וכן כל שמונת ימי החג ולא הוי דחול המועד פסח דמדלגין משום דבסוכות כל יום חשוב כיום טוב בפני עצמו, כיון שחלוק קרבנותיו ...
  • 7,373
5 votes

What is the origin and/or earliest use of the Ushpizin prayer (invitation of the 'exalted guests') during Sukkot?

Jewish Chronicle states Apparently, the earliest source for the custom of welcoming the Ushpizin on Succot is in the Zohar, the classic of Kabbalah. The Zohar makes clear that a central reason ...
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5 votes
Accepted

Must the top of a sukkah be level?

This is addressed in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 631,10: סוכה שאין לה גג כגון שהיו ראשי הדפנות דבוקות זו בזו כמין צריף או שסמך ראש הדופן של סוכה לכותל פסולה ואם היה לה גג אפילו טפח או שהגביה הדופן ...
  • 11.2k
5 votes

Why do we wave the Lulav / etrog?

Waving the lulav represents our victorious emergence from the judgment of Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur. The following Midrash appears in Midrash Tanchuma on Parshat Emor # 18: ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון ...
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5 votes

Why is Yom Tov Seven Days? Shavuot One?

Rambam discusses the different day lengths of the three holidays in Guide for the Perplexed 3:43. Quotes are from the Friedlander translation: Sukkot The Feast of Tabernacles, which is a feast of ...
  • 48.2k
5 votes
Accepted

Why not start BaHaB on Iyar / Marcheshvan 3?

The לוח דבר בעיתו explains (regarding Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5769) that the reason we don't announce בה"ב on Rosh Chodesh is that: אין מברכים את המתענים בה"ב בחדש ניסן או בשבת ר"ח, השבת הקרובה, כמו ...
5 votes
Accepted

What are the considerations regarding voting in elections during Sukkot?

There’s two main parts to Sukkos: the “Yom Tov,” on which most acts which are forbidden on the Sabbath are also forbidden (the main exception being many things that are involved in food preparation), ...
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5 votes

Would a hole in the ground with schach over the hole constitute a kosher sukkah?

Shulchan aruch Orach chaim 633, 10 talks about digging a hole in the ground to compensate 10 tefachim e.g if the Sechach is 1 tefach high one compensates with 9 tefachim deep. As long as the 1 tefach ...
  • 11.2k
4 votes
Accepted

Why does the mitzvah of Sukkah have a stated meaning that its practitioner must have in mind?

Perhaps the fact that Teffilin, Tzitzis and Succah all share the fact that their main kiyum mitzvah is not an actual action, but rather to be in the situation of passively being involved or enveloped ...
  • 32.4k
4 votes
Accepted

What does having a Mehudar Etrog and Lulav mean over just having a kosher set?

There are a number of ways in which hidur is applied to esrog (and acc to the Magein Avraham other mitzvos like seffer torah and shofar as well), all of them enumerated in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim ...
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4 votes
Accepted

If someone eats in the succah anyways while it's raining, do they need to stay in the kosher part?

According to Rama 639:7 ("and whoever is exempt from suka and doesn't leave there… that's nothing but laity") as explained by Beur Halacha ("as [the pain of being in the rain] is a violation of ...
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