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Sukah 28


QUESTION: The Mishnah states that it is permitted to leave the Sukah when it rains, but only if it is raining enough that the "Makfeh" (a certain type of thickened cooked dish) starts to spoil. The Mishnah implies that one is not *required* to leave the Sukah; one is merely *permitted* to leave. This seems to be the ruling of the REMA (OC 639:7), who says that one who eats in the Sukah while it is raining does not receive any reward for his action, and he is called a "Hedyot." This implies that there is no Isur per se in staying in the Sukah (rather, one just does not fulfill any Mitzvah by doing so).

The ONEG YOM TOV (OC 49) asks that the SHULCHAN ARUCH (in the beginning of OC 638) rules that the wood used to build a Sukah is prohibited mid'Oraisa to be used for any other purpose for the entire duration of the festival, as the Gemara (Sukah 9a) says. This prohibition includes both the wood of the walls and that of the Sechach. The REMA adds that even a Tenai does not work to permit using them, in the event that the Sukah collapses.

We know that if a person makes an oath not to derive any benefit from a house, he is not allowed to sit in the house (Rosh ha'Shanah 28a). We see from there that sitting in a house is considered as deriving benefit from it. Sitting in a Sukah, too, is considered as deriving benefit.

If so, why is it permitted to sit in the Sukah while it is raining? One is not fulfilling the Mitzvah, and he is deriving benefit from the walls and Sechach of the Sukah while they protect him from the rain!

The Oneg Yom Tov says that perhaps the only type of personal use of the wood and Sechach that is prohibited is that type which counters the Mitzvah of Sukah (as TOSFOS implies in Shabbos 22a). That is not true though, he says, for a number of reasons. First, the Gemara (Shabbos 22a) says that it is prohibited to count money in front of the light of the Chanukah Menorah because of Bizuy Mitzvah (it is disgraceful to the Mitzvah). We see from there that even if there is no prohibition of using the item that was designated for a Mitzvah for personal use ("Huktzah l'Mitzvah"), there should still be a prohibition of Bizuy, of disgracing the item of the Mitzvah by using it for personal use. Second, the Gemara (Sukah 37b) says that it is prohibited to smell a Hadas which is being used for the Mitzvah. In that case, smelling the Hadas does not contradict the Mitzvah for which the Hadas was designated, and yet it is still prohibited. Third, the Gemara (Sukah 9a) compares Sukah to the Korban Chagigah. Just like it is prohibited to derive benefit from a Korban Chagigah in any manner, even if that benefit does not contradict the Mitzvah, so, too, it should be prohibited to derive any form of benefit from a Sukah.

Why, then, is it not forbidden to sit in a Sukah while it is raining?


(a) The ONEG YOM TOV answers that the Isur d'Oraisa of using the material of the Sukah for personal use does not apply when a Sukah collapses, in which case it is only Asur mid'Rabanan (as mentioned by the MISHNAH BERURAH OC 638:5). Similarly, it stands to reason that when one covers the top of the Sukah (temporarily making it an invalid Sukah), using the Sukah for personal benefit will only be Asur mid'Rabanan. If it is only Asur mid'Rabanan, then it is likely that the Rabanan did not prohibit deriving personal benefit from the Sukah through a simple act as sitting in the Sukah while it is raining, because such an act in no way dishonors the Sukah. Why, though, should it be permitted to sit in a Sukah while it is raining when the Sukah is not covered?

The Gemara in Yoma (69a) says that "the Torah was not given to angels." For that reason, the Kohanim are permitted to wear the Bigdei Kehunah even after they have completed the Avodah, because it is impossible to remove the clothing the very moment that the Avodah is completed. For the same reason it should be permitted to sit in a Sukah after the Mitzvah of Sukah has been completed.

This logic, though, should apply only when one was in the Sukah and then it started to rain; in such a case he may stay in the Sukah even though the Mitzvah is no longer being fulfilled, because "the Torah was not given to angels." Why is it permitted to *enter* a Sukah, l'Chat'chilah, when it is raining? Perhaps the answer is that because "the torah was not given to angels," even entering the Sukah in the first place while it is raining is only prohibited mid'Rabanan. If the Isur is mid'Rabanan, it can again be suggested that the Rabanan never enacted the Isur of benefiting from a Sukah in a situation where one merely wants to go into the Sukah while it is raining.

(b) The CHAZON YECHEZKEL (2:5) says that the reason it is permitted to sit in a Sukah while it is raining is as the Oneg Yom Tov initially suggested, and then rejected. The Isur is only to use it in a way that counters the Mitzvah of Sukah. The Isur of deriving benefit applies only when one uses it in a way that detracts from its utilization as a Sukah.

In the case of the prohibition against smelling the Hadas, it is clear from the Gemara that the only reason it is prohibited is because it is very common to use Hadasim for smelling. When one designates it for the Mitzvah, one thereby sets it apart from its main use (smelling). We see this from the Esrog, which is permitted to smell, since smelling it is not its main use. The RASHBA in fact adds that if one uses Hadas branches as the walls of a Sukah, because fragrant wood makes good walls, then it is permitted to smell it. This is because it is being used only as a piece of wood, and not as an object of an actual Mitzvah. Hence, we see that only a Hadas is prohibited to smell, and that prohibition does not extend to other items of Mitzvah.

As for the comparison to Chagigah, the Gemara just means that just like an object is Kadosh because it is designated to be used for a Korban, so, too, an object (such as a Sukah) can become "reserved (Huktzah) for a Mitzvah" if it is designated to be used for a Mitzvah

(The Chazon Yechezkel does not address the case of counting money in front of the Chanukah Menorah. However, that case differs, from it is clearly a disgrace to the Mitzvah to count money in front of the Menorah. Here, one is merely sitting underneath the object of the Mitzvah, which is not disgraceful to the Mitzvah.)

As proof to this theory he cites the story where the servant of Rav Ashi placed a cloak to dry on the roof of a Sukah (Daf 10b). Although that entails benefiting from the Sechach of the Sukah, since doing so does not detract from the use of the Sukah it was permitted. (See also TOSFOS Shabbos 42b, DH v'Ein, and 45a, DH Ela, who seems to say this clearly; a flame lit for Hadlakas ha'Neros of Shabbos may be moved, because doing so does not detract from the Mitzvah. It is prohibited, though, to use the oil that drips from it, because at the time he lit it, when the oil was still in the lamp it would have detracted from the Mitzvah to benefit from it.)

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