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The Sukkah: The Holiday Hut

The Sukkah: The Holiday Hut


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.

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. Nevertheless, many chassidim will eat in the sukkah no matter the weather. It's too great and rare a mitzvah to squander...

It is particularly important to eat at least one k'zayit (approx. 1 oz.) of bread or challah on the first evening of the festival in the sukkah, between nightfall and midnight.

Who: Dwelling in the sukkah is a mitzvah for everyone, though the obligation applies mainly to men over the age of thirteen (children as young as five or six should do so too).

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.

By Staff
Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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Discussion (13)
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?
October 4, 2012
What about meals without grains?
I don't eat a lot of grains due to blood sugar issues. Can I make the blessing for eating in the succah if I'm eating a grain-free meal, if it's a large, satisfying meal with lots of vegetables and meat, fish, or eggs?
October 10, 2011
The Sukkah
We are so happy that we built a Sukkah for all guests to enjoy at Imagine That. When visitors come to the museum they can have their snack or meal while they visit for the day.
Florham Park, NJ
September 29, 2010
Re: taking down our sukkah
As you have correctly noted, Thursday night and Friday are out. So the earliest time to take down the Sukkah would be after Shabbat.

(For years that Shabbat does not immediately follow Simchat Torah, the Sukkah may be taken down once SImchat Torah is over.)
Eliezer Zalmanov
September 28, 2010
taking down our sukkah
when is the proper time to take down the sukkah? prior to simchat torah on thursday eve? or is this prohibited because it is Shemini Atzeret? since friday is simchat torah until shabbos eve, can we not also take down the sukkah on friday? which would put it over until sunday after shbbos?
David G.
September 27, 2010
I may be late, but I'm detrmined to build my hut and sit in it, and eat in it for the next two days! I sure hope G-d will help me and forgive me for being late. I've been thinking about it since Yom Kippur ended.
yvonne russell
Jonesboro, GA
September 22, 2010
as usual, the article on Sukkah was very interesting...
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