web analytics
July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: Noy Sukka – Sukka Decorations (Part I)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

QUESTION: Is decorating the sukka part of the mitzva, or does the mitzva only require the sukka itself?
Moshe Jakobowitz
Brooklyn, NY
ANSWER: The simple answer is that providing for the mitzva of [dwelling in a] sukka would seem to be limited to the requirement to erect the structure, namely, the walls and the sechach (the thatch).In Parashat Emor the Torah states regarding the Sukkot festival (Leviticus 23:42): “Basukkot teshvu shiv’at yamim, kol ha’ezrach be’Yisrael yeshvu basukkot – You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all who are natives in Israel shall dwell in booths.” This verse serves as the command for us to sit in sukkot on the Festival of Tabernacles (see Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvot, Mitzvot Aseh, Mitzva 168).

The sukka, including the specifications of the walls and the sechach, are discussed in detail in the first chapter of Tractate Sukka. The materials one may use for the sechach must be gidulei karka, products of the ground. This is in accordance with R. Meir’s teaching (op. cit. 36b-37a). R. Meir states that we may take sechach from any available tree. The Gemara also mentions nesarim, slats of lumber, which is what many of us use today.

Thus there is no doubt that if one constructed the sukka according to the above requirements, without noy sukka (sukka decorations), one will clearly fulfill the essence of the biblical command.

Yet we find the following baraita (Sukka 10a-b): “If one covered the sukka with sechach, as halachically required, and decorated it with [any or all of these:] embroidered hangings and sheets, and hung in it nuts, almonds, peaches and pomegranates, clusters of grapes and wreaths of grain, wine, oil, or fine flour [in clear glass bottles] it is forbidden to make use of them [as they are muktzeh] until the conclusion of the last day of the festival. However, if he made a stipulation [before yom tov], everything depends on and goes according to his stipulation [and the rule of muktzeh does not apply].”

We see from this baraita that the sechach on the sukka, when used in the prescribed manner, fulfills the basic halachic requirement. All the other items listed seem to be placed there to please the eye, and since each of them has other possible uses, either as garments and covers, or food and drink, of which one might wish to avail oneself at any time, the baraita cautions us that in the event of no prior stipulation, these items are all considered muktzeh, which we may not use on the Sabbath and on holidays, or even during the Intermediate Days.

Nevertheless, R. Yitzhak Yosef explains in his Yalkut Yosef (Hilchot Noy Sukka) that it is a mitzva to decorate the sukka. He refers to the Gemara (Shabbat 133b), which states regarding the verse in Parashat BeShalach (Exodus 15:2), “Ozi vezimrat kah va’yehi li liyeshua; zeh keli ve’anvehu elokei avi va’aromemenhu – G-d is my strength and my praise, He is my salvation; this is my G-d and I will glorify (beautify) Him, the G-d of my father and I will exalt him.”

We derive from the phrase “zeh keli ve’anvehu” the concept of glorifying G-d with mitzvot. Accordingly, we make for Him a beautiful sukka, we buy a beautiful lulav, etc.

Therefore it is customary to adorn the sukka with all kinds of decorations as well as pictures (including pictures of Gedolei Yisrael).

We see that R. Yosef’s reading of the Gemara is that the mitzva to decorate the sukka is not part of the mitzva of fulfilling the sukka’s structural requirements, but rather because of “zeh keli ve’anvehu.”The only problem with this line of reasoning is that while Rambam does cite this Gemara in reference to acquiring a beautiful lulav, etrog, and the other species (Hilchot Lulav 7:7), he does not refer at all to beautifying the sukka as a mitzva, but makes casual reference (Hilchot Sukka 5:17-18) to sukka decorations. In no way does he state that it is a mitzva.

In fact, R. Moshe Sofer, zt”l (Responsa Chatam Sofer, Orach Chayyim 184), discusses a case where a kosher etrog was hung in a sukka as a decoration, and someone came to that sukka on Chol HaMo’ed from a distant place where no etrog was available. May he use the etrog that was suspended to fulfill the mitzva of lulav and etrog?

Since the etrog served as a decoration and thus became muktzeh, may one nevertheless use it? If adorning the sukka is a mitzva under the rule of noy sukka, then perhaps this etrog should not be used. Yet we find that the Chatam Sofer permitted the etrog to be used in that case. This would sustain our original statement that the mitzva consists only of the sukka itself and not its decorations.

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Noy Sukka – Sukka Decorations (Part I)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2012.
Hillary Clinton Says She Will Be Better Friend than Obama to Israel
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Avi Weiss

With Ruth, The Torah seems to be stating that children shouldn’t be punished for the sins of parents

Neihaus-070315

Without a foundation, one cannot hope to build a structure.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Why do we have a parsha in Sefer Shemos named after Yisro who was not only a former idolater, but actually served as a priest for Avodah Zarah!

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

This Land Is ‘My’ Land
‘[If The Vow Was Imposed] In The Seventh Year…’
(Nedarim 42b)

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Attempts to interpret the message of Hashem in the absence of divine prophecy ultimately may twist that message in unintended ways that can lead to calamitous events.

Suddenly, the pilot’s voice could be heard. He explained that this was a special day for those passengers on board who lived in Israel.

If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.

All agree that Jews ARE different. How? Why? The Bible’s answer is surprising and profound.

What’s the nation of Israel’s purpose in the world? How we can bring God’s blessings into the world?

“Is there a difference between rescuing and other services?” asked Ploni.

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

Bil’am’s character is complex and nuanced; neither purely good nor purely evil.

Amalek, our ultimate foe, understood that when unified, we are invincible and indestructible.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-noy-sukka-sukka-decorations-part-i/2003/11/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: