A GUIDE TO THE LAWS OF SUCCOS

Preface and Introduction

Chapter One

The obligation to live in the succah for seven days

1. From where do we know that there is a mitzvah to dwell in the succah for seven days?

It says in the Torah (Vayikrah 23:42) "You shall dwell in succahs for seven days; every resident of Israel shall dwell in succahs. In order that your generations should know that I caused the Jews to dwell in succahs when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." See Rashi there who says that the succahs referred to there are the Clouds of Glory. As we see in the Gemoroh (succah 11a) they were surrounded by the Clouds of Glory in order to prevent the heat and sun from harming them (see Shulchan Aruch, section 1). In commemoration of this we were commanded to make succahs in order that we should remember the wonders and mighty deeds that were performed for us.

2. What thoughts should a person have when he fulfills the mitzvah of living in the succah?

It is brought down in the Mishnah Berurah that while sitting in the succah, one should have in mind that we are commanded by God to sit in the succah as a reminder of our exodus from Egypt. It is also a commemoration of the Clouds of Glory that surrounded us then in order to protect us from the heat and sun. However, if a person did not have these thoughts in mind the mitzvah of succah is still fulfilled as long as he had the intention to fulfill the mitzvah.

3. When is the proper time to start building the succah?

It is a mitzvah to build the succah immediatly after Yom Kippur, for when a mitzvah becomes available to us we should not push it off. Those who are especially careful about the observance of mitzvos start to build part of the succah immediately after Yom Kippur. The reason for this is in order to go immediately from one mitzvah to another. At any rate after davening the following morning one should start and complete building of the the succah if possible. This would apply even on Friday until midday. However after midday some say that it would be prohibited to continue with the building (Ramoh end chapter 624, Ramoh section 1, M.B., section 2).

4. Are there any other special customs that should be done onthe eve of Yom Tov?

It is written that one should give a lot of charity on the eve of Succos. One should also invite poor guests for Yom Tov, each person according to his means (Sharei Teshuvah section 1).

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