Sukkot FAQs

What do you do if it is raining on the FIRST night of Sukkot?

According to the Mishna Berura [Orech Chaim 639, note 35] the following is the recommended procedure if it is raining on the first night of Sukkot:

 

1. Since there are many authorities who rule that on the first night, even when a person is uncomfortable living in a sukkah [in halachic terminology - "mitz'ta'ere"], there is a special requirement to use a sukkah. Therefore, one must wait to see if the rain stops, before beginning to eat inside.

 

2. While some authorities suggest that one wait until mid-night, the Mishna Berura indicates that we can folllow the opinion of Sha'are Teshuva, who doesn't give an objective amount of time to wait, but rather uses the subjective measure that one should not cause his family undue aggrevation on Yom Tov, and therefore, just wait a "reasonable" period of time (definately less than an hour or two).

 

3. If by that time the rain has stopped - there is no longer a problem and the meal can be eaten in the sukkah.

 

4. If it is still raining, kiddush must still be recited in the sukkah, but WITHOUT the blessing of "leyshev baSukkah." A motzi is then made in the sukkah and after a "kezayit" of challah is consumed (about a slice), the rest of the meal is moved indoors, where you should also "bentsch".

 

5. If the rain stops before one has retired for the evening, one should wash and eat a "kezayit" of bread in the sukkah - so that the bracha of "leyshev baSukkah" can be recited.

 

[6. On the second night of Sukkot, it is not necessary to wait to make kiddush and eat. Rather, if it is raining everything can be done indoors, and at the end of the meal, a "kezayit" of bread should be eaten outdoors. If it has stopped raining at that time a bracha of "leyshev baSukkah" can be recited, and if not, the bread is eaten as on the first night. However, there are those who recommend to follow the same procedure on the second night as on the first, but the Mishna Berura does not require this - see Sha'ar HaTziyun note 73.]

 

 

 

Can Schach Be Tied Down?

In a case when one's schach is very light and is easily blown off of the top of a sukkah, one may tie the schach in place with a material that could, itself, be used for schach (e.g. a simple natural twine) [Mishna Berura 629 note 26]. However, "b'dieved" if another material was used, whether natural or synthetic, the schach is still valid. An exception to this would be if a person attached the schach with nails. In such a case, the schach would be invalid since the roof has been transformed into a "permanent structure" [Magen Avraham 627 note 2; Shaar HaTziyun 633 note 6; However, Aruch HaShulchan 629:19 is more lenient].

 

However, if the schach does not blow off in a normal wind, but only with a very strong wind, any material (except nails) may be used to tie the schach in place [Responsa B'tzel HaChochma 5:44].

 

 

 

Mosquito Netting for a Sukkah

While there are opinions which forbid the use of netting over the schach of a sukkah (e.g. Aruch laNer), Rabbi Moshe Feinstein did permit netting, under the following conditions:

 

1. While netting can be place either above or below the schach, it is better to put it OVER the schach. This is done so that the netting will not serve as a "support" for the schach ("davar ha'ma'amid).

 

2. The netting should be open enough that the openings should be more than the threads which "criss-cross" the netting. This is necessary so that more sunlight can penetrate the netting than the shade caused by the netting ("chamta meruba mi'tzilta")

 

The netting does not have to produced specifically for Sukkot and may be purchased at any store.

 

 

 

What can you do if your schach fell off on Shabbat or Yom Tov?

According to the Mishna Berura [Orech Chaim 737 note 1] if schach fell off of a sukkah on Yom Tov and rendered the sukkah is unusable, it is permitted to ask a non-Jew replace the schach. Yet, if the schach fell off on Shabbat, the Mishna Berura would prohibit replacing it.

 

However, the Pri Megadim disagreed, and would allow replacing the schach, on both Yom Tov and Shabbat [Eshel Avraham 737 note 8]. In fact, this is precisely what happened to Rabbi Yosef Teumim (the "Pri Megadim") during the holiday Sukkot in 1866 - and his family arranged for a non-Jew to replace the schach [cf. HaSukkah HaShalem Addendum to Chapter 17 paragraph 4].

 

Of course, this only applies to a situation where the sukkah had already been completed and then suffered damage. However, if the schach had not been place on the sukkah in advance of the holiday it is prohibited to have a non-Jew to put schach on and complete the sukkah [Mishna Berura 726 note 20]

 

 

 

Building a Sukkah on a Pergola - click here

 

 

"What's the Truth About... Schach" by Rabbi Ari Zivotofsky - click here

 

 

cRc Recommended Bamboo Schach - click here

 

Fri, October 20 2017 30 Tishrei 5778