Selected Halachos Related to Succos
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
EATING IN THE SUCCAH ON THE FIRST NIGHT OF SUCCOS
Every adult male is Biblically obligated to eat a k'zayis of bread in a
succah on the first night of Succos. The Talmud(1) derives this obligation
from the similar obligation of eating a k'zayis of matzah on the first night
of Pesach. Since these two obligations are closely related, their halachos
are similar in many respects. Like all mitzvos, this mitzvah, too, can only
be properly fulfilled if there is prior planning and clear knowledge of all
the requirements. Let us review the pertinent halachos:
WHEN IS IT EATEN?
1. In the late afternoon of erev Succos, one should not eat so much food or
wine that he will be unable to eat the k'zayis of bread with a good
2. One cannot eat the k'zayis of bread [nor make the Kiddush that precedes
it(3)] until it is definitely night(4), preferably no earlier than 50
minutes after sundown(5). If one ate before that time, he must eat another
k'zayis of bread in order to fulfill the mitzvah(6).
3. The k'zayis of bread may not be eaten after midnight(7). B'dieved,
though, one who did not eat before midnight should do so after midnight and
recite the proper blessing(8).
4. Preferably, one should sit down to eat the k'zayis of bread immediately
after coming home from Ma'ariv. Unnecessary delays should be avoided(9).
IN FACT, HOW MUCH MUST BE EATEN?
1. There are various views among the poskim about the exact measurement of a
k'zayis. Since this is a Biblical obligation, it is proper to be stringent
and eat at least 1.75 fl. oz. of bread, although one who eats 1 oz. of bread
fulfills his obligation.
2. There is a view among the Rishonim(10) that holds that the minimum amount
of bread one is obligated to eat in the succah on the first night is
slightly more than a k'beitzah, not merely a k'zayis. Although the basic
halachah does not require the larger amount(11), still it is proper to
satisfy that view as well(12). The amount to be eaten [to satisfy all
views], therefore, is 3.5 oz. of bread(13).
3. The bread which is eaten [whether it is a k'zayis or slightly more than a
k'beitzah(14)] must be eaten within a time-span of 3-4 minutes(15). One may
not talk until he has chewed and swallowed the full amount(16).
L'chatchilah, it is proper to chew and then swallow a k'zayis of bread in
THE BASIC PROCEDURE
1. One is obligated to eat the minimum amount of bread even if he does not
enjoy it and even if it causes him distress(18). Even a person who is
classified as a choleh sh'ein bo sakanah is obligated to eat a k'zayis of
2. Before eating the bread, one must have in mind that he is about to
fulfill the Biblical mitzvah of eating bread on the first night of
Succos(20). If one fails to have this intent and eats the piece of bread as
he normally does every Shabbos or Yom Tov, it is questionable if he has
fulfilled the mitzvah(21). In any case, he should eat another portion of
bread with the proper intent(22).
3. One does not fulfill his obligation by eating cake, etc.(23) Only bread
made out of one of the five species of grain is valid.
4. Women are exempt from this mitzvah, but if they do eat the required
amount of bread in the succah, it is considered a mitzvah and they may
recite the blessing over the succah(24).
5. There are some who maintain that the bread should be eaten without being
dipped in honey(25), etc. (as is the custom between Rosh Hashanah and
Shemini Atzeres). Most poskim are not particular about this stringency(26).
ARE WE REQUIRED TO FULFILL THIS MITZVAH WHEN IT IS RAINING?
There are many discussions among the poskim concerning the obligation to
eat in the succah on the first night of Succos if it is raining. The
following points are raised:
If rain is falling, is one obligated to eat in the succah or not?
If it is raining, is one obligated to wait and see if the rain will stop so
that he can eat in a rain-free succah?
If one does eat in the succah while it is raining, can a blessing be
If a person ate in the succah while it was raining and then the rain
stopped, is he required to eat in the succah again?
If a person ate in the succah while it was raining and then went to sleep,
is he obligated to get out of bed to eat again once the rain has stopped?
Since there are different rulings on all of these issues, the following is a
summary of the majority opinion(27):
1. If it is raining steadily and there is a reliable weather forecast for
rain all night, one should make Kiddush [with shehecheyanu] and eat a
k'zayis [or slightly more than a k'beitzah(28)] in the succah. No blessing
over the succah is recited. The rest of the meal is eaten in the house(29).
2. If there is no reliable weather forecast and there is a possibility that
the rain will stop [e.g., it is drizzling or it is raining off and on], it
is proper to wait an hour or two for the rain to subside(30). The poskim
agree, however, that if the delay will disturb the dignity and pleasure of
the Yom Tov, or if the family is hungry and/or tired, there is no obligation
3. If the rain stops while the meal is being eaten in the house or even
after the meal is finished, one is obligated to go to the succah, recite
leishev ba-succah, and eat at least slightly more than a beitzah(31) of
bread. Even if the rain stops after midnight, that amount of bread must be
eaten in the succah. If one has already gone to bed and then the rain stops,
there is no obligation to get out of bed in order to eat in the succah(32).
1 Succos 27a.
2 Mishnah Berurah 639:27.
3 Beiur Halachah 639:3.
4 Rama O.C. 639:3.
5 This is the generally accepted time for "night", although there are
opinions who maintain that "night" is 42 minutes after sundown. [Since this
is a Biblical mitzvah, it is proper ??weather permitting ??to wait for 72
minutes after sundown, to satisfy the views of the Rishonim who hold that
before that time, it is not definitely night.]
6 Mishnah Berurah 639:25. If, mistakenly, one ate the bread even earlier
than sundown, not only must he eat another k'zayis but he must also repeat
the blessing of leishev ba-succah.
7 Rama 639:3.
8 Mishnah Berurah 639:26. In that case, though, at least a k'beitzah of
bread should be eaten.
9 Mateh Efrayim 625:42, 44.
10 Quoted by the Ritva and Ran in Succos 27b.
11 O.C. 639:3.
12 Mateh Efrayim 625:51; Mishnah Berurah 639:22.
13 The amount of a beitzah according to the Chazon Ish.
14 Mateh Efrayim 625:52 and Elef le-Mateh 87; Kaf ha-Chayim 629:51. Harav
S.Z. Auerbach, however, maintains that for the amount of a k'beitzah, 6-8
minutes is allowed; see end notes to Succah ha-Shalem, # 27.
15 Mishnah Berurah 639:22. Children under bar mitzvah may take up to 9
minutes to consume the k'zayis or k'beitzah; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras
Shabbos K'hilchasah 54, note 130).
16 Kaf ha-Chayim 639:50.
17 Mateh Efrayim 625:52. Mishnah Berurah, though, does not mention this.
18 Beiur Halachah 639:3.
19 Bikurei Yaakov 639:6,24; Aruch ha-Shulchan 639:17.
20 Mateh Efrayim 625:51; Mishnah Berurah 625:1. In addition to this, one
should bear in mind the reasons behind the mitzvah of succah. According to
some poskim (Bikurei Yaakov 625:3 based on Bach), failure to have this
intent invalidates the mitzvah. Mishnah Berurah, however, rules that
b'dieved one fulfills his obligation even if he does not have in mind the
reasons for the mitzvah.
21 See Chida (Simchas ha-Regel, quoted in Moadim u'Zemanim 6:69) who
questions if one has fulfilled his obligation in this case. See, however,
Mishnah Berurah 60:10, quoting the Chayei Adam.
22 Mateh Efrayim 625:53.
23 Mishnah Berurah 639:21.
24 Sephardic women, though, should not recite the blessing for the succah or
for any mitzvah which they are not obligated to perform, such as lulav,
25 See Yechaveh Da'as 4:37 for the various views.
26 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Nishmas Avraham O.C. pg. 320 and Harav O.
Yosef, ibid. pg. 337). Tzitz Eliezer (15:32-14) maintains that one should be
stringent. See also Moadim u'Zemanim 1:86.
27 Based on rulings of Mateh Efrayim and Mishnah Berurah.
28 Mateh Efrayim 625:51,62 and Elef le-Mateh 84. See, however, Ketzei
ha-Mateh, who maintains that in this case a k'zayis is sufficient according
to all of the views quoted above.
29 When reciting ha-Motzi, one should have in mind that he will recite
Birkas ha-Mazon in the house.
30 Some poskim are more stringent and recommend waiting until midnight.
31 In this case, because of the blessing which is to be recited, a k'zayis
is not enough.
32 There is a minority opinion (Moadim u'Zemanim 1:86, based on his
understanding of the Gr"a; Harav M. Soloveitchik, quoted in Reshimos
Shiurim, Succah, pg. 92, and in Mesorah, vol. 14, pg. 57) which maintains
that even after going to sleep, one is obligated to wake up and get out of
bed in order to eat in the succah.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Project Genesis, Inc.
Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.
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