Laws and Customs of Sukkot 5778

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The Sukkah[1]
Following are some laws regarding building a Sukkah. For more information, please see Orach Chaim, 626 – 636
A Sukkah can be kosher with two walls and a partial third wall. This is complicated and should not be done without Rabbinic consultation. The Chabad custom is to have a Sukkah with four proper walls.[2]
  • The walls must be sturdy enough so that they do not fall over or sway in the wind. One who is using a thin material should tie it down to the frame of the Sukkah so that it doesn’t sway in the wind. If the walls will only sway slightly (less than nine inches from the center to either side), it is kosher.[3]
  • The walls should be at least 33 (or preferably, 39) inches high. They may not be higher than 30 feet.
  • If one has walls that are swaying in the wind they can create “halachic walls” by putting up taut straps (or wooden poles) at intervals of less than three tefachim (nine inches), up to the minimum height (mentioned above).
  • The s’chach should consist of non-edible vegetation that has not been fashioned into any sort of utensil. E.g., palm fronds, bamboo sticks or other branches and leaves are all suitable for s’chach.
  • If one of the walls reaches the level of the s’chach, but there is a covering that is not kosher for s’chach between the wall and where the s’chach begins, if that covering is less than six feet long, that wall can count as a wall of the sukkah. This is based on the principle of dofen akumah (a bent wall).
  • If the walls do not reach the s’chach, i.e., there is an open space between the top of the walls and the s’chach, if the walls are directly beneath the s’chach, it is kosher. This is called gud asik- a wall which goes up.
  • If there is an area in middle of the sukkah that is covered by an object that is not kosher as s’chach (e.g. a light), if that object is 12 by 12 inches, one should not eat underneath it. Some say one should not eat under an object that is 9 by 9 inches.[4]
  • The s’chach (foliage that covers the Sukkah) should be thick enough so that even if it dries, the Sukkah will still have more shade than sun. It is best to be able to see the stars through the holes in the s’chach. Despite this, the Chabad custom is to use a large amount of s’chach, even if this makes it impossible to see the stars. Certainly, it cannot be so thick as to not allow the rain to penetrate it.[5]
  • The s’chach should (preferably) be supported and held in place by wood or other material that is itself kosher to be used as s’chach. For this reason, one should not use bamboo mats that are held together by metal or wires. Nor should one use plastic ties to hold down one’s s’chach unless the s’chach would remain in place even without those ties in a common wind. The beams holding up the s’chach may be supported by metal or other materials not fit for s’chach.[6]
  • The Sukkah should be open to the sky. If there are overhanging branches from nearby trees, those branches should be cut away. If this is not practical, a rabbi should be consulted.
  • If a gentile puts up the s’chach, it is best for a Jew should pick up and put back down at least one piece of s’chach while having in mind that it is for the sake of the mitzvah of Sukkah. The same applies if one is using the same s’chach that remained on his Sukkah from last year.
  • It is not Chabad custom to adorn the Sukkah with pictures, decorations, and the like.[7]
Erev Succot
Wednesday, Oct. 4 / 14 Tishrei
The Four Species[8]
  • The lulav (palm branch) should be straight, preferably green, and not split on the top.
    • If the middle branch of the lulav is split, it is still kosher, provided that the split doesn’t reach until the bottom of that branch.[9]
    • From the third day of Sukkot and on, a lulav that has a split top leaf is considered kosher even in the first place.
  • The spine of the Lulav should be at least 12 (or, preferably) 15 inches long. The spine is defined as the center of the Lulav, up until the point where the last leaves part from it towards the top.
  • The Lubavitcher Rebbe would use a Lulav whose leaves were held together by the brown part of the lulav known as “koreh.”[10]
  • The hadas (myrtle) should be green, and a majority of it (at least) should have groups of three leaves on it. It is preferable to use hadassim in which all of the leaves in the top three tefachim (handbreadths) are in groups of three.[11]
  • The arava (willow) should be green and have all (or at least most) of the leaves still attached.
  • Each hadas and arava (willow) should be at least 9 (or, preferably, 12) inches long.[12]
  • The Etrog (citron) should be nice-looking and not have black spots on the top. Any spot that is not readily noticeable when one holds the Etrog at an average distance from their eyes, is not Halachically significant.[13]
    • That Chabad custom is to preferably use an etrog that grew in certain orchards in Italy where the land is especially fertile. There is a tradition that the etrogim from those orchards were not grafted.[14] If these are not available (or if they are unaffordable), it is preferred to use an etrog from the orchards in Kfar Chabad whose trees originated from a seed taken from an Italian etrog.
    • In any event, one should make sure to buy etrogim that have Rabbinic supervision to ensure that the etrogim were not grafted (or not from a line that was grafted).
    • If possible, one should look for the following when choosing an etrog: It should be beautiful-looking, have bumps, the stem should be somewhat sunken into the fruit, it should slope upwards rather than have the shape of a ball, and the pitum should be aligned above the stem.
    • An etrog may not be as green as a leek. Lighter shades of green are acceptable, but yellow is preferred.[15]
  • As the Aravot (willows) and Haddasim dry easily, it is a good idea to exchange them for new ones during Chol HaMoed.
  • If most of the leaves of the aravah (or hadass) fall off, it is no longer valid. It is best to have hadassim and aravot to which all of the leaves are still attached.[16]
Preparing the Lulav
It is customary to prepare the Lulav on Erev Sukkot in the Sukkah.[17]
  • One may not use more than one lulav and etrog. One may, however, use more aravot[18] (willows) or hadassim (myrtle) although some recommend against it. In practice, it is not customary to add aravot (perhaps for Kabbalistic reasons). Although many communities do not add hadassim either, some communities (including Chabad) do customarily add hadassim. (The different numbers according to Chabad custom that are mentioned for this custom are: 4, 6, 12, 13, and 26.)[19]
  • The Chabad custom is to bind the hadassim and aravot directly on the lulav. One should place one hadas and arava on the right side, one hadas and arava on the left side, and one hadas in the center (leaning slightly toward the right). If using more than the required number of hadassim, they should be spread (more or less) equally between the center and the right and left side.
    • The aravot should be placed behind the hadassim so as not to appear too conspicuous (Siddur Pg. 240).
  • All of these should be tied together by three rings (these can be taken from the Lulav.). The three rings are placed within one tefach (handbreadth – approx. 3 inches). An additional two rings should be placed on the Lulav itself in a manner that they are (at least) partially covered by the hadassim and aravot.
  • Many have the custom of using keishelach (a holder made of lulav leaves) for the hadassim and aravot and to place the three hadassim on the right side and the two aravot on the left side. There is Kabbalistic significance to this custom.[20] (As mentioned above, this is not the Chabad custom.)[21]
  • By the letter of the law, one may use other materials (such as a rubber band) to tie the hadassim and aravot to the lulav. It is customary, however, to use lulav branches.
  • It is customary to tie three rings on the Lulav. These correspond to the three patriarchs.[22] (The rings used to bind the hadassim and aravot to the Lulav are all considered to be one.)
  • The top of all of the hadas and aravah branches should be at least 3 inches (one tefach) below the top of the spine of the lulav. The spine is defined as the center of the Lulav, up until the point that the last leaves part from it towards the top.
Preparations for the Holiday
One who did not take a haircut before Rosh HaShana (and needs one) should take one before Sukkot. This is an obligation by Rabbinic law. In addition, one whose nails are long should cut them before the holiday.[23]
It is a mitzvah (for men) to immerse in the mikvah on this day. This is based on the principle that one must ritually purify themselves before a Holiday. Although this is no longer a Biblical commandment, it is customary to do this immersion as a memory for the Temple era.[24]
While immersing, one should intend to draw the holiness of the holiday upon themselves. One who cannot immerse in a mikvah, should take a shower for 3 to 4 minutes in such a way that it covers their entire body.[25]
One should not eat grains (or other filling foods) in the last three hours of the day (approximately 4:00 pm). Some are strict from midday (1:08 pm). This is in order to ensure that they will have a good appetite for the mitzvah of eating in the Sukkah.[26]
It is customary to give Tzedaka generously on this day and to ensure that all who need have enough for the holiday. An additional reason for this is that, now that we have spent so much money on our own mitzvot (Lulav and Sukkah) we must show that we also care about the needs of others.[27]
Eiruv Chatzeirot[28]
One must make an Eiruv Tavshillin on this day in order to permit cooking on Friday for Shabbat.
One should take a complete bread or challah roll and a cooked piece of food and recite the text and blessing of the eiruv (page 327 in the new Chabad Siddur).
One who is making the eiruv on behalf of the community should have someone else first lift up the foods on behalf of the community and say the text printed in the Siddur (ani mezakeh).[29]
  • For the cooked food one should use a piece of fish, chicken or even an egg. A can of tuna or other cooked food that is canned and is eaten as an accompaniment to bread may also be used, although these are not preferred.
  • On Friday, the food should be prepared in such a way that it is all edible before Shabbat begins.
  • The food and challah which he put aside should be kept separate and not eaten until Shabbat begins.
  • It is preferable to use the challah of the Eiruv for Lechem Mishnah on Friday night and on Shabbat day and then to eat it on Shabbat day for the third meal. This follows the principle that if an object was used for a mitzvah, it should be used again for another mitzvah.
  • One who did not eat the challah or food on Shabbos has still fulfilled the mitzvah of eiruv.
  • One who forgot to make the eiruv may be able to rely on the eiruv made by the rabbi of the community as follows:
    • If one completely forgot to make an eiruv or was so busy that he did not have a chance to do it, he may rely on the eiruv that was made by the rabbi of the community on behalf of all the community members. Similarly, an unlearned person who did not know about this mitzvah or who thought that one may rely on the rabbi in the first place and thus did not make his own, may rely on the rabbi’s eiruv (even though his thinking was wrong). Some say that one may only rely on the rabbi’s eiruv one time in their lives.[30]
    • Whereas if one postponed making the eiruv in a manner that is negligent, he cannot rely on the rabbi’s eiruv. Rather he should give his ingredients to a friend or neighbor who did make an eiruv and have the friend cook them for him.
If one forgot to make the Eiruv before Yom Tov, one may make it on the first day of Yom Tov. He should say, “If today is Yom Tov, then tomorrow is a weekday and I don’t need to make an eiruv. If today is a weekday and tomorrow is a Yom Tov, I need to make an eiruv.” He should then proceed to the text of making the eiruv. According to the Alter Rebbe, one may recite the blessing in this case. Some disagree.[31]
One who will be a guest for both eating and sleeping at someone else’s house need not make his own Eiruv Tavshilin as he is considered to be a member of his host’s family. Some say that he should make his own eiruv but without a bracha.[32]
One who does not plan on cooking at all on Friday but is planning to light Shabbat candles should make an eiruv without a bracha.
First night of Sukkot
Wednesday night Oct. 4/15 Tishrei
Candle-lighting time is at 7:04 p.m.
The candles should be lit in, or be visible from, the Sukkah.[33]
The following two Brochos should be recited: Baruch…L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov and Baruch…Shehechiyanu. According to some customs women should not say Shehechiyanu.[34]
Kiddush (Siddur pg. 329)
The first night the procedure for saying the Kiddush is as follows:
  • Borei Pri Hagafen
  • Bracha of Kiddush for Yom Tov
  • Bracha of Leisheiv Ba’sukkah (to dwell in the Sukkah)
  • She’hechiyonu
The Meal
  • On the first two nights of Sukkot, it is mandatory for all men to eat at least one Kezayit (one ounce) of Challah (or bread) in the Sukkah.[35]
  • If it is raining, one must eat at least an olive-size piece of bread in the Sukkah. The rest of the meal may be eaten indoors.
    • According to the Mishnah Berurah, the following rules apply. If it is raining on the first night, it is best to wait for an hour or two (or, perhaps, even until midnight) to see if the rain lets up and then eat in the Sukkah. If the rain does not let up, one should make Kiddush in the sukkah (but not recite the blessing of leshev basukkah) and eat an olive size piece of bread there. One may then eat the rest of the meal in the house. If it stops raining before one goes to bed, they should return to the Sukkah and eat a kebeitzah (the size of an egg) of bread after reciting the blessing of leshev basukkah.)[36]
  • If it is raining on the second night one may be lenient and not eat in the Sukkah at all. Even if one wishes to be strict, he may make Kiddush and eat the meal indoors and then enter the Sukkah to eat one kezayit (olive) size piece of bread without reciting the blessing of leshev basukkah.
  • The challah or bread should be eaten after nightfall, even though one may accept the Yom Tov early.
  • One should dip the Challah of Hamotzi into honey. One should use honey on the Yom Tov of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabba. On Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days), its use is optional.
Laws of Eating in the Sukkah
  • On the first two nights of Sukkot, it is mandatory for all men to eat in the Sukkah as mentioned earlier. During the rest of the holiday, it is only mandatory to eat in the Sukkah if one is eating bread or other grain food in excess of two ounces. Nevertheless,it is praiseworthy to eat and drink (even water) only in the Sukkah. Chabad custom is to be very particular about this. Some say that when drinking wine in a fixed manner (e.g., drinking with a few friends), one should do so in the Sukkah.[37]
  • One should only say the bracha of Leshev Basukkah when eating bread or grain that is two ounces (the size of an egg) or more.[38]
    • The Mishnah Berurah rules that one should not say the bracha of Leshev BaSukkah if eating a small amount of grain food that is not bread. It should only be recited when eating this in a group or if eating a large amount. In addition, he recommends that one not eat fish, meat and other filling foods in a group, outside of the Sukkah.[39]
  • While eating in the Sukkah, one should bear in mind that the Sukkah reminds us of the clouds of glory with which G-d encompassed us when He took us out of Egypt.[40]
  • If one leaves the Sukkah with no intention of returning within an hour or two, one should say the bracha of Leshev Basukkah again (if one eats the amount of food mentioned earlier), regardless of when one returns.
  • Similarly, if a person returns to the Sukkah after one or two hours, he must recite the bracha again even if he planned to return earlier. If one goes from one Sukkah to another, one must recite the bracha again in each location where they eat the above-mentioned amount of grain food.[41]
  • If one forgot to say the bracha of Leshev Basukkah and remembered during the course of the meal, the bracha may be recited at that point, but one should remain in the Sukkah for a little while afterwards.
  • Although women are not obligated to eat in the Sukkah, if they wish to do so, they are fulfilling a mitzvah and may recite the Leshev Basukkah bracha.
  • Sefardic women should not make a bracha on the Sukkah.
  • One should not leave dirty pots or garbage bins in the Sukkah. It is best not to bring any pots into the Sukkah at all.[42]
  • One should spend time in the Sukkah during as many activities as possible. For example: studying Torah or talking with a friend.
  • It is a mitzvah to sleep in the Sukkah. Even a short nap should only be taken in the Sukkah.
  • If it is raining to the point that it is uncomfortable to eat in the Sukkah, one may eat outside of the Sukkah. It is the custom of some Chassidim to eat in the Sukkah even in the rain. [43]
  • Boys should be educated in the Mitzvah of dwelling in the Sukkah from the age of five or six approximately.
The Ushpizin
According to the Zohar, there are seven special guests who visit our Sukkot on the seven nights of Sukkot. They are called Ushpizin (Aramaic for guests). All seven visit on each night but the main guest varies from night to night. These seven Tzadikim are:
  1. Avraham Avinu (first night)
  2. Yitzchak Avinu (second night)
  3. Yaakov Avinu (third night)
  4. Moshe Rabeinu (fourth night, some say the fifth night)
  5. Aharon HaKohen (fifth night, some say the sixth night)
  6. Yosef HaTzadik (sixth night, some say the fourth night)
  7. David HaMelech (seventh night)
Some have a custom of saying a special prayer inviting them into the Sukkah. This is not the Chabad custom, however.
According to Chabad tradition, there are also Chassidic Ushpizin. These are the souls of the Holy Rebbes who visit on the seven nights of Sukkot;
  • The Ba’al Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Miteller Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, and the Rebbe Rashab.
  • The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often explain the connection between these two sets of Ushpizin.
First day of Sukkot
Thursday Oct. 5/- 15 Tishrei
Shaking the Lulav[44]
It is best to not eat or drink anything before shaking the lulav on every morning of Sukkot.[45] According to the Arizal it is best to shake the lulav in the Sukkah. It is therefore best to shake it before davening, as soon as possible after sunrise, in the Sukkah.
Although women are not obligated in this mitzvah, if a woman has accepted it upon herself, it is best that she not eat (a full meal) before fulfilling the mitzvah.
Sefardic women do not recite a bracha when shaking the lulav and etrog.[46]
In the first place one should wait until sunrise before doing this mitzvah. If one needs to travel, however, he may do this mitzvah and recite the blessing, after dawn before sunrise.[47]
In some Shuls, the entire congregation goes to the Sukkah before Hallel to recite the bracha at that time. If one is in a shul that does not do this and he did not say the bracha beforehand, he should not leave during the repetition of the Amidah to be able to recite the blessing in the Sukkah. He should rather make the bracha and shake the lulav in Shul.[48]
See Siddur page 306 for the blessings and directions as to how to shake.
  • One should hold the lulav in the right hand with the spine (green smooth part) facing oneself. One should say the bracha on the lulav and then pick up the etrog with his left hand and shake them as described below. The Chabad custom is to say the bracha of Shehechiyanu (on the first day of Yom Tov) while holding the Etrog in the left hand before touching it to the Lulav.[49]
  • Some have the custom of holding the etrog upside down for the bracha and then turning it the right way up when completing the bracha.
  • Some say that one who holds (or shakes) all four species in one hand does not fulfill the mitzvah while others say that he does. In practice, one who did this should shake again while holding them in two hands, but should not repeat the bracha.
  • An Ashkenazi left-handed person should reverse the above, i.e., he should hold the lulav in his left hand and the etrog in his right hand.[50]
  • A Sefardic left-handed person should hold them in the same way as a right-handed person (i.e., the lulav in his right and the etrog in his left).
  • One who held the lulav and the etrog in the wrong hands (i.e., the lulav in the left and the etrog in the right) while doing the mitzvah should do it again in the “correct” hands but should not repeat the bracha.[51]
  • If one wears rings on one’s fingers, it is best to remove them before saying the bracha and shaking the lulav.
  • This way of holding should be done during Hallel[52] and Hoshanot as well (i.e., the lulav and etrog should be held in separate hands).
  • If one is paralyzed and is unable to use both of his hands, he should hold the Lulav in one hand, make the bracha, put it down and then pick up the Etrog.[53]
  • After the bracha is said, one should shake the Lulav and Etrog in various directions. This is called nanu’im. There are many different customs as to how to do this.
  • The Chabad custom is to face east and the shake the lulav and etrog as follows:
    • Three times to the right (south) while bringing it back to the heart after each time.
    • Three times to the left (north) while bringing it back to the heart after each time.
    • Three times straight ahead (east) while bringing it back to the heart after each time.
    • Three times upwards while bringing it back to the heart after each time. (It is best to extend it downwards, below the heart a little bit, before bringing it back up to the heart.)
    • Three times downwards while bringing it back to the heart after each time. (It is best to extend it upwards, above the heart a little bit, before bringing it back down to the heart.[54])
      • The lulav should remain pointed upwards while one extends it in a downward direction.
    • Three times behind oneself (west) while bringing it back to the heart after each time.
    • When one brings it “back to the heart” it means that it should actually touch the left side of the chest, where one strikes when saying the confessionary prayer (ashamnu).[55]
  • The Sefardic custom (that I have seen) is to follow the same order except that one turns their entire body towards the direction in which they are shaking.
  • The general Ashkenazi custom is to shake it to the front, right, back, left, up and down while extending it three times in every direction as above.[56]
  • It is good to wake up early to do this Mitzvah, especially for the first time.[57]
  • We shake the lulav as above during Hallel as well (see instructions on page 309 and 311 of the Siddur). Following this, we do Hoshanot (page 368).
  • One who is lending someone else his set of Lulav and Etrog to allow that person to do the Mitzvah on the first two days of Sukkot should say that the set is being given as a gift on condition that it be returned.[58]
One should hold his lulav and esrog in his right and left hands respectively while saying Hoshanot (page 368 in the Siddur). One Torah Scroll is taken out and held by someone who doesn’t have a lulav and Esrog set. That person should stand at the Bimah for the duration of the Hoshanot. The Aron Kodesh should be left open for the Hoshanot. If everyone in Shul has a lulav and etrog set, the Sefer Torah should be placed on the Bimah for Hoshanot.
In some congregations the Hoshanot are recited after Musaf.
If one is in a shul which differs from his custom in this regard, he should do the Hoshanot together with the community.[59]
Share the Lulav
The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged those who have a Lulav and Esrog to share this Mitzvah with as many people as possible.
Second night of Sukkot
Thursday night Oct. 5 /16 Tishrei
Candle-lighting is not before 7:37 and may only be lit from an existing flame.
The candles should be lit in, or be visible from, the Sukkah.
The following two Brochos should be recited: Baruch…L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov and Baruch…Shehechiyanu. (See above, note 34)
Kiddush (Siddur Page 329)
The second night the procedure is as follows:[60]
  • Borei Pri Hagafen
  • Bracha of Kiddush for Yom Tov
  • Bracha of Shehechiyonu
  • Bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah (to dwell in the Sukkah)
The reason that the order of Shehechiyanu and Leisheiv BaSukkah is reversed is that on the second night, the bracha of Shehechiyanu is only referring to the Yom Tov and not to the Sukkah since the Shehechiyanu on the first night was referring to the Sukkah. As such, it is preferable to say Shehechiyanu immediately after the bracha of Kiddush.[61]
See above as to what to do if it is raining on this night.
Second Day of Sukkot
Tuesday Oct. 6 / 16 Tishrei
One should not recite the bracha of Shehechiyanu on the lulav on this day nor on any of the remaining days of Sukkot unless, for some reason, it is their first time doing the mitzvah.
The reason Shehechiyanu isn’t repeated on the lulav of the second day as it is on the Kiddush of the second night is, that even if the first day of Yom Tov would have been a weekday (before they had the calendar system) the bracha of Shehechiyanu on the lulav would still be valid as one may say that bracha even when binding the lulav before the holiday.[62]
As mentioned above, due to the laws of Eiruv Tavshillin, all of the food that one is cooking this afternoon for Shabbat should be prepared in such a manner that it is ready to eat before Shabbat begins.
Shabbat Chol HaMo’ed Sukkot
Oct 6th and 7th/ 17 Tishrei
Candle lighting for Shabbat is at 6:44 pm
The bracha on the candle lighting is the same as that on every Shabbat.
As mentioned above, the candles should be lit in, or be visible from, the Sukkah.
  • One should recite Patach Eliyahu but not Hodu before Mincha.[63]
  • According to Chabad custom, the prayers begin with Mizmor LeDavid.
  • Nusach Ashkenaz begins with Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbat
  • The Kiddush recited tonight is the Shabbat Kiddush only, but it should include the bracha of LeShev BaSukkah.
  • As mentioned above, it is best to use the “Eiruv Tavshillin challah” for Lechem Mishnah (the two loaves) on this Shabbat and then to eat it at one’s last meal.
Shabbat Day
Oct. 7 / 17 Tishrei
We do not shake the Lulav on Shabbat. Nor do we do Hoshanot (according to Chabad custom). Some say Hoshanot but do not circle the Bimah while doing so.
It is customary in Ashkenaz congregations to recite the Megillah of Kohelet on this day. Some recite it with a bracha (blessing) while some recite it without a bracha.[64]
The Chabad custom is to not to do this reading.[65]
Shabbat ends at 7:35 pm
One should make Havdalah in the Sukkah. Some say that one should recite the blessing of Leshev BaSukkah after Havdalah before drinking the wine. Others say that due to the doubt in this matter is it best to eat cake or bread immediately after havdalah in order to be able to recite the blessing according to all opinions.[66]
This Havdalah includes spices and a candle as usual.
Chol HaMo’ed
SundayWednesday, Oct. 8 – 11 / 18 – 21 Tishrei
During Chol HaMoed it is proper not to do work that does not relate to the needs of the Yom Tov. One who would lose his job by not going to work may go to work. Also, one who would suffer a great financial loss may work.
Simple work may also be done.
One should spend extra time studying Torah during Chol HaMoed.
Simchat Beit HaSho’eivah
It is customary to remain awake on the nights of Chol HaMo’ed Sukkot and sing and dance in memory of the Simchat Beit HaSho’eivah that took place in the Bait HaMikdash during these days.[67]
This custom can also be fulfilled on the nights of Shabbat and Yom Tov, without musical instruments, of course.
The Laws of Hoshana Rabbah will be discussed in a future e-mail, G-d willing.
Wishing everyone a Chag Same’ach, a Gut Yom Tov and a Gut Yohr!
Sukkot Times
Wed night
Oct. 4


Thurs. \
Oct. 5
Fri. night
Oct. 6
Shabbat Ends
Oct 7
6:46 pm
Not before
7:37 pm
6:44 pm
7:35 pm
Brooklyn, N. Y.
6:14 pm
Not before
7:11 pm
6:11 pm
7:08 pm
L.A. Ca.
6:15 pm
Not before
7:09 pm
6:12 pm
7:06 pm
Jerusalem, Israel
5:40 pm
Yom Tov ends
6:55 pm
5:38 pm
6:53 pm
Melbourne, Australia
7:09 pm
Not before
8:07 pm
7:11 pm
8:09 pm

[1] The measurements in this article are based on the opinion of Rav Avraham Chaim Naeh. The opinion of the Chazon Ish, when more stringent, is mentioned in parentheses.
[2] Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad , based on Rama, 630, 5
[3] Piskei Teshuvot 630, 9, But see there in note 50 that some say that one should not use material that sways in the wind at all. Rather one should tie ropes or straps at intervals of 3 tefachim (9 inches) or less, up to the height of 10 tefachim (33 or 39 inches) as mentioned above.
[4] See O.C. 632, and Mishnah Berurah, 3. See Piskei Teshuvot there, 1 that in most cases the rest of the Sukkah is still kosher.
[5] See ibid, Sefer HaSichot, 5750 Sicha of the fourth night of Sukkot, ot 11; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 631:5. I’m not sure as to the meaning of the halacha that the s’chach cannot be so thick that the rain would not be able to penetrate it since, if it rains hard enough for long enough, the rain will eventually penetrate.
[6] See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 629:11-13 and Piskei Teshuvot, 6-9
[7] Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad. See Sicha of Simchat Torah 5730, ot 10 which explains that the reason for this custom is that the walls and schach of the sukkah have a higher level of holiness than the beautifications of the Sukkah and that it is (somewhat) inappropriate to adorn something holy with something less holy. The sages of the Talmud perceived the beautifications as being completely nullified to the Sukkah, so, for them, it was not considered inappropriate.
[8] See O.C. 645 – 648, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Elef HaMagen
[9] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 645:11
[10] Otzar Minhagei Chabad
[11] Ibid 646:3
[12] Ibid 650:1
[13] See ibid 649:19, 21, 22, 26 and 27
[14] See Chatam Sofer O.C. 207 that there is a tradition among Ashkenazi Jews that the etrogim of Yanova (Genoa, Italy) were pure bred etrogim and that this tradition is of greater Halachic significance than the signs given by the Rama with which to distinguish a non-grafted Etrog. See Sicha of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe on the day of Simchat Torah, 5710. See Igrot Kodesh, vol. 3, page 280 that cites the Bereishit Rabbah (67:6) that the “fat of the land” refers to Italy. See also ibid, col. 4 page 24 that if the community in Morroco (or in any country) has a tradition that their etrogim are not grafted, this may be relied upon. But that the Chabad custom is to prefer the “Yanover” etrogim regardless.
[15] The notes on the Elef HaMagen 648:7 cite a Tikunei Zohar that the etrog should, preferably be yarok (green). However, he cites many acharonim who explain that, in this context, yarok means yellow. Alternately, he explains, the Zohar means it should be greenish but not actually green.
[16] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 647:5
[18] The Tur (Siman 651) cites a custom to have 68 aravot (this is the gematriyah of lulav) or 79 aravot (corresponding to the number of bulls sacrificed on Sukkot). The Bait Yosef cites the custom to have 71 aravot, corresponding to the number of judges in the high court.
[19] See Rambam, Laws of Sukkah and Lulav, 7:7; Sefer HaMinhagim – Chabad. See Sicha of Parshat Ha’azinu, 5752, ot 10 that even when purchasing the 4 species for those that do not have their own, one should buy them at least 3 additional hadassim.
In addition, it seems that in “the later years” the Rebbe had 36 haddasim in his lulav (Otzar Minhagei Chabad).
[20] The notes on the Elef HaMagen 651:1 cites the Taz who brings down the following story from the Rikanti (Rabbi Menachem Rikanti of Italy, 1250-1310). The Rikanti had a guest for Sukkot from Germany by the name of Rabbi Yitzchak. On the first night of Sukkot the Rikanti dreamed that Rabbi Yitzchak was writing the name of G-d but that he was making a (large) space between the first three letters (yud, kai, vov) and the last one (kai). In the dream tte Rikanti asked him why he was doing this, and he said that this is the custom in our place. The Rikanti protested and instead wrote all of the letters of the name together. Originally, the Rikanti didn’t understand the dream. But in the morning he saw that his guest was shaking the lulav and was keeping the etrog separate from the other three species. The Rikanti told him his dream and explained that since the four species correspond to the four letters in G-d’s name, the four species must be held together.
Based on this, the Elef HaMagen explains that just as when writing G-d’s name, the letters must be close to each other but not touching, so, too, when binding the four species which correspond to G-d’s name, the species should be close to each other but should not be touching. This is accomplished by the Keishalach. According to this opinion, one should hold the etrog close to, but not actually touching the lulav. This is not the common custom.
[21] See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 651:2 and 6
[22] Ibid, 11
[23] Mateh Efrayim, 625, 11
[24] Ibid, 14 as explained in Ketzeh HaMateh, 15
[25] Ibid
[26] Mateh Efrayim, 7
[27] Ibid, 21 and Ketzeh HaMateh, 27
[28] O.C. 527, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Piskei Teshuvot
[29] The Alter Rebbe in the siddur does not specify that only the rabbi of the community should make the eiruv on behalf of the community. Dayan Raskin, in his Siddur Rabeinu HaZakein im Tziyunim (pg. 488), points to the Shela who says that it is proper for everyone to make his eiruv on behalf of the entire community.
[30] See Mishnah Berurah, 527:22 and Kaf HaChaim, 48. The Alter Rebbe does not cite this view.
[31] Rabbi Akiva Eiger, cited in Mishnah Berurah, 74
[32] Piskei Teshuvot, 17
[33] See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 639:3
[34] See Mishnah Berurah 263:23
[35] Ibid, 639:17
[36] Mishnah Berurah, 639, 35
[37] See Biur Halacha on 639:2 D.H. Yayin and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 639:12
[38] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 639:11
[39] Mishnah Berurah, 15
[40] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 625
[41] Ibid, 639, 14
[42] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 639:2
[43] See Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 302 – 306. See Piskei Teshuvot, note 61 that some say that one may even make a blessing on the Sukkah during the rain if they are more pained to leave the Sukkah than to remain in it.
[44] O.C. 651 and 652
[45] See Piskei Teshuvot 653, 5 that, by the letter of the law, one may eat a snack before this mitzvah but that one should only be lenient in a case of great need. In addition, coffee and tea is permissible but it is better to be strict in this regard as well.
[46] Yalkut Yosef, Mo’adim, Seder Netilat Lulav, 10. Some Sefardic women do not shake the lulav at all. I am not sure as to the reason for this custom.
[47] O.C. 652
[48] Siddur HaRav
[49] HaYom Yom, Tishrei 16
[50] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 651:14
[51] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 13 and Mishnah Berurah, 19
[52] See that the Chabad custom is to only hold the Etrog after the first holdu lahHashem
[53] Ibid, 15
[54] Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad
[55] Ibid, Hayom Yom 20 Tishrei
[56] Rama 651:10 and Mishnah Berurah 47
[57] Sefer Haminhagim, Chabad, see O.C. 652, 1
[58] Shulchan Aruch O.C. 658. Hayom Yom 15 Tishrei
[59] Piskei Teshuvot 660
[60] Hayom Yom 16 Tishrei
[61] Mishnah Berurah, 661:1
[62] Bait Yosef on Siman 662
[63] Hayom Yom 16 Tishrei
[64] See O.C. 490, 9 and Mishnah Berurah, 19 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 17
[65] Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 329
[66] See Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 324, Piskei Teshuvot, 639, 10
[67] See Mishnah Berurah, 661, 1, Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 320 – 323 and in many talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Wishing you a Chag Sam’each, Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tovah!

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