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Sukah 47

SUKA 36-56 (End of Maseches) have been dedicated by the wife and daughters of the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he will long be remembered.


QUESTION: Rav Yosef rules like Rebbi Yochanan, who said that on the eighth day of Sukos in Chutz la'Aretz (which is a Safek whether it is the seventh day of the festival, and thus part of Sukos, or the eighth day, and thus Shemini Atzeres and separate from Sukos), one sits in the Sukah but without reciting the Berachah, "Leishev ba'Sukah." The reason he rules like Rebbi Yochanan is because Rav Huna bar Bizna and all of the Gedolei ha'Dor came to a Sukah on the eighth day in Chutz la'Aretz, and they sat in the Sukah but did not recite the Berachah. The Gemara asks that perhaps the reason they did not recite the Berachah is not because they hold like Rebbi Yochanan, but because they had already recited it on the first day of the festival and they hold like the opinion (45b) that says that it is necessary only to recite the Berachah on the first day. The Gemara answers that this was the first time they had sat in the Sukah for the entire festival, for they were just coming in from the fields now. If so, the only reason they did not recite the blessing was because they hold like Rebbi Yochanan.

RASHI says that he learned from his teachers that these Gedolei ha'Dor had been shepherding their animals out in the fields and had not dwelled in a Sukah for the entire festival until now. TOSFOS adds that they did not even have "shepherd huts" with which to fulfill the Mitzvah (as we find on 8b).

How can it be that these Gedolei ha'Dor exempted themselves from the Sukah in order to take care of their animals? We find several alternative explanations in the Acharonim.


(a) The SEFAS EMES and others explain that these Gedolei ha'Dor were not away from the Sukah the entire festival like Rashi says. Rather, they left momentarily to check on their animals out in the fields. The Gemara (26a) says that watchmen are exempt from the Sukah while they are working, and the same applies to those guarding flocks of animals. Since these Gedolei ha'Dor became momentarily exempt from the Mitzvah of Sukah, there was a Hefsek, an interruption, from the Berachah which they recited at the beginning of the festival, and thus their original Berachah will no longer apply when they return to their Sukah. Therefore, they should have had to recite a new Berachah if they did not hold like Rebbi Yochanan.

(b) The ARUCH LA'NER (in BIKUREI YAKOV 640:24) says that they went out to learn Torah in isolation, for in such a manner they were able to achieve great levels of holiness (see Zohar, Parshas Tetzaveh). Since they were totally involved in a Mitzvah, they were Patur from the Sukah (25a, 26a). (He adds that they returned to the city on Shemini Atzeres because they did not want Hashem to hold back the rains on account of their being out in the fields and exposed to the elements.)

(c) RAV REUVEN MARGOLIOS (in NEFESH CHAYAH 640:8) suggests that they did go out specifically to watch their animals, but rather they were forced to flee from the authorities, because it was a time of persecution against the Jews in Pumbedisa (the city of Rav Huna bar Bizna).

(d) The YOSEF DA'AS cites RAV TZVI PESACH FRANK (in HAR TZVI) who writes in the name of RAV CHAIM BERLIN (see also HA'OROS B'MASECHES SUKAH) that the Gemara should read "m'Ifra Asu" instead of "m'Efer Asu." "Ifra" refers to "Ifra Hormiz," the mother of Shevor, the king of Persia (Bava Basra 10b). The Gedolei ha'Dor were involved in negotiating with the king on behalf of the Jewish people, and therefore they were exempt from the Mitzvah of Sukah.

(e) The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Sukah 6:13) proposes a brilliant explanation for this Gemara. The Gemara in Pesachim (52a) states that although it is necessary to observe two days of Yom Tov in places where the people are not expert in determining the new month (such as in Chutz la'Aretz), Talmidei Chachamim who know how to calculate the new month may observe only one day when they are in isolated, uninhabited areas (even in Chutz la'Aretz).

When the Gedolei ha'Dor went out to the fields in order to watch their animals, they certainly dwelled in a Sukah. However, since they were out in an uninhabited area, they were not bound to observe two days of Yom Tov out of doubt (since they were all Talmidei Chachamim who knew how to calculate the new month). Therefore, on the first day of Sukos they recited the Berachah of sitting in the Sukah, and that exempted them from reciting the Berachah the rest of the days (since they held like that opinion on 45b).

However, when they returned to the city on the eighth day, they were obliged to sit in the Sukah, because they had to conduct themselves like the rest of the people of Chutz la'Aretz (and treat the eighth day as a Safek, perhaps it was really the seventh day). However, the Berachah which they had recited on the first day could not cover the eighth day, because when they recited the Berachah, they recited it on a *seven day* Sukos, and not on the eighth day. Therefore, they would have had to recite a new Berachah upon sitting in the Sukah on the eighth day. The fact that they did not recite a new Berachah when sitting in the Sukah on the eighth day showed that they ruled like Rebbi Yochanan!


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