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The Sukkah: The Holiday Hut

The Sukkah: The Holiday Hut


As soon as Yom Kippur is out, we shift gears for the next holiday, the joyous festival of Sukkot. The core mitzvah of that holiday is the sukkah.

What: A sukkah is a hut built to provide shade. That's why it must sit beneath the open sky—not under a patio deck or even the branches of a tree. The walls can be made of any material, as long as they are secure and don't flap about in the wind. The roof, however, (we call it s'chach), must be of unprocessed materials which have grown from the ground. Bamboo poles, thin wooden slats, and evergreen branches are popular choices. Just make sure to use enough s'chach so that the inside of your sukkah will have more shade than sunlight. Those living in the fast lane can buy a prefab sukkah and bamboo mats. Inquire at your local Judaica store, or click here.

For eight days, make the sukkah your official homeHow: For eight days, make the sukkah your official home. Don't panic: As long as you eat your meals there, you're okay. But try to include anything else that you would normally do in the house—like reading a book or talking with a friend. We sit in the sukkah from sundown on the 14th of Tishrei through nightfall of the 22nd of Tishrei.

It is a mitzvah to eat all meals in the sukkah (a "meal" is defined as more than two ounces of grains -- e.g. bread, cake, pasta). Some people have the custom of eating snacks in the sukkah as well. Before eating in the sukkah, the following blessing is recited:

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

[Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-shev ba-sukkah.]

This blessing is made when your meal or snack includes a grain-based food.

Raining? If it's really uncomfortable, there is no duty to sit there. Come back when the weather improves.

Who: This beautiful mitzvah is traditionally fulfilled by the whole family, though, as with all time-related mitzvot, the obligation to eat in the sukkah applies to men over the age of 13.

Why: The sukkah commemorates the Clouds of Glory which surrounded and protected our ancestors during the forty-year desert sojourn which followed the Egyptian Exodus. Our willingness to leave the security of our homes and spend eight days in a flimsy outdoor hut demonstrates our faith in G‑d and His benevolence.

Click here for more about the sukkah.

By Staff
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Discussion (19)
November 3, 2016
Re: rain?
People can be quite creative. Alternatively, some do what you did--leave the siddur inside.
Eliezer Zalmanov
November 1, 2016
"Nevertheless, many chassidim will eat in the sukkah no matter the weather."

How do they keep their siddurim dry? Since it rained every day, I ate a daily kezayit in the rain (and got soaked) but I couldn't read my ushpizin prayer in the sukkah, had to read it inside the house to protect the siddur.
September 26, 2009
can you build the Sukkah before Yom Kippur
can you build the Sukkah before Yom Kippur
Alan Schliftman
white plains, ny
October 17, 2005
We built our 1st sukkah. This was the support we needed to do this and pray correctly. We are so excited.
September 2, 2009
RE: when you don't have a yard
While seeing the stars are nice, the most important elements of the sukka are the boughs that you sit under and the walls that surround you. I would suggest that you find a way to put up a sukkah for the duration of the holiday on your top-floor balcony. There are many of them that look very temporary (pvc and canvas construction) so that no-one would suspect you of actually doing construction on your porch. If this is entirely not feasible, perhaps you would be able to make one in your parking spot.

As a last resort, you can always take your meals over to a friend’s sukkah or your synagogue’s sukkah. In years bygone, before much of American Jewry moved out to the suburbs, it was not uncommon for many families to share one sukkah at the synagogue or somewhere else.
Menachem Posner for
September 1, 2009
when you don't have a yard
Any recommendations for apartment dwellers. We have a balcony (top floor so not even a 'roof' to see stars through) but are not allowed to put up any construction on it. In the past we have eaten on the balcony but uncovered.
I Johnston
Blue Ash, OH
September 7, 2015
There is a tradition that is cited by R' Chaim Elazar Shapiro, the Rebbe of Munkatch, that the students of the Baal Shem Tov had a custom to eat in the Sukkah even if it was raining. This was also the practise of the Rebbes of Chabad, and many Chabad Chassidim adhere to this custom.
Shaul Wolf
September 6, 2015
Do chabad keep this custom of not eating in the sukka even when there is discomfort?
October 1, 2013
Re: Ounces
The amount required to eat in the Sukkah on the first night of the holiday is the equivalent of a large egg (approximately 55 grams).
Eliezer Zalmanov
September 17, 2013
For those of us outside the USA, or those who value the precise words of the Torah, what units are in the Torah and how would that translate into grams?
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