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- One should bear in mind that everything being done to the chicken is what should be done to him or her. Only through doing teshuvah does G-d remove the decree and “transfer” it to the bird.
- A man should use a rooster while a woman should use a hen.
- It is best to use a separate chicken for each person.
- A pregnant woman should use two hens and one rooster, one hen for herself, and the other hen and rooster because of the possibility of the child being either a boy or a girl. If this is too expensive, she may use one rooster and one hen as the hen will count both for her and for the possibility of the baby being a girl.
- Some say that one may use one chicken for many people. In practice, if one cannot afford one chicken per family member, one may use one rooster for all the males and one hen for all the females.
- One who has no chickens may use other kosher animals or even fish.
- One who is helping others do the kaparot should first do it for himself so that “those who are cleansed can cleanse others.”
- One who cannot use an animal may use money instead. The money should be at least the value of a chicken. The money should be given to charity. One should not use ma’aser funds for this. One should say the text of Benei Adam etc. zeh chalifati etc. The words zeh hatarnegol yelech lemitah should be substituted with the phrase Zeh Hakesef Yelech L’tzedoka (this money will go to tzedaka).
- Before bringing the chicken to be slaughtered, some have a custom to lean on the chicken. This is similar to the sacrifices in the Holy Temple upon which the owners would lean.
- The chicken should be slaughtered as soon as possible after it is used for Kaparot.
- As much as possible, one should not allow the live chickens to “witness” the slaughtering of the chickens that precede them. This is an unnecessary pain and may even affect their kosher status.
- There is a mitzvah to cover the blood of slaughtered (kosher) fowl and wild (kosher) animals. One who wishes to perform this mitzvah should ask the shochet (ritual slaughterer) permission to do so as the mitzvah technically “belongs” to the shochet. One should say the blessing Asher Kidishanu … al kisuy Dam Be’afar, and then cover the blood with sawdust, sand or earth.
- This mitzvah represents sweetening the judgment (blood) with kindness as represented by the earth which symbolizes bittul (self-effacement).
- It is customary to tip the shochet (ritual slaughterer).
- If the shechitah is invalid, one should buy another chicken and repeat the process.
- Either the chickens or their value should be donated to the poor.
- Certainly, it is forbidden to discard the slaughtered chickens. This would be a transgression of the Biblical commandment of bal tash’chit (one may not waste). The chickens should be treated kindly and not waved in a manner that is painful to them.
- It is better to perform Kaparot with money than to use chickens that will be discarded.
- Some men have a custom of immersing in the Mikvah before Kaparot.
- The Chabad Rabbe’im would don Shabbat clothes on Erev Yom Kippur after Kaparot.
- On Erev Yom Kippur, we do not recite:
- Mizmor LeToda (Siddur pg. 30 right after Baruch She’amar) This prayer corresponds to the thanksgiving offering which was brought daily in the Holy Temple but not on Erev Yom Kippur. The reason for this is that there would not be enough time to consume the sacrifice.
- Sefardim do recite Mizmor LeTodah.
- Tachnun (Siddur pg. 54) As this day is a mini-holiday, it is not fitting to recite confessionary prayers.
- From Erev Yom Kippur until after the end of the month,Tachnun is not said.
- We do not recite Avinu Malkeinu.
- The Shacharit prayers on Erev Yom Kippur should not be prolonged.
- Those who say Selichot recite an abridged version on this day.
- It is customary in many communities to ask the gabbai (attendant) of the shul for Lekach (honey cake) and to eat some of it. The Lubavitcher Rebbe would give out Lekach (honey cake) to the Chassidim on this day.If, G-d forbid, it was decreed that one will have to ask for help from his fellow-man this year, it is fulfilled at this time by asking for Lekach.
Asking for Forgiveness
- For this reason, anyone who may have insulted or hurt his fellow-man should apologize and ask for forgiveness on this day.
- The peace that is brought about on this day through these actions causes the Satan to have no claims against the Jewish people.
- In addition, by doing this, we become similar to angels amongst whom there is no jealousy or competition.
- In addition, when we forgive each other, G-d acts reciprocally and forgives us.
- When asking for forgiveness one should specify how he injured the other party. If this will cause embarrassment to the other party, one should not do so.
- One who sinned towards an individual must ask him specifically for forgiveness and should not address him as part of a group.
- If one owes money to another person for having damaged him, one should pay it before Yom Kippur, or, at the very least, assure the other party that he will do so.
- One should always discuss a (possible) financial obligation with a Rav and not rely on one’s own decision in this regard (Elef HaMagen 606:7).
- If the grieved party refuses to forgive, one should attempt to seek forgiveness at least two more times. Each time he or she should bring a different group of (three) friends with him to show that he is sincere (See Ben Yehoyadah on Yoma, 87a and Mishnah Berurah 606:4).
- If one insulted one’s teacher, there is no limit to the number of times he must seek forgiveness.
- One who is asked to forgive should not harden his heart but should quickly forgive unless doing so will lead to his detriment (if he feels the person will repeat the offense as a result).
- One who forgives others will be forgiven by G-d whereas one who does not forgive will not be forgiven by Him.
- One who does not remove hatred (from his heart) on Yom Kippur, his prayers will not be heard, (G-d forbid). But one who rises above his (negative) traits will have all his sins forgiven.
- There was once a great Torah scholar who had been shamed by a certain wealthy and powerful man. When someone approached the scholar afterwards asking him to forgive the wealthy man, the Torah scholar explained that he had forgiven him immediately. He cited the Zohar that says that the sins of the Jewish people weigh down the wings of the Shechinah. So in order not to cause G-d pain, he had immediately forgiven the man so that the sin be erased.
Eating on Erev Yom Kippur
- For this reason, many have a custom to eat two meals (including washing for Challah) on Erev Yom Kippur. The first meal takes place in the morning while the second follows Mincha. (The first meal is a custom whereas the second meal is mandatory and is referred to as the Se’udah hamafseket – the meal that interrupts between the weekday and Yom Kippur.)
- The reason for the two meals is that, Kabbalisticly, one should eat on this day for two days – Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur itself.
- It is customary to dip the Challah in honey when eating the meals of this day.
- It is not necessary to have lechem mishnah (two loaves of challah) at these meals.
- It is customary for Ashkenazim to eat Kreplach (pockets of dough with meat or chicken[see footnote] in them) on this day. The meat represents judgment while the dough represents mercy which covers the judgment (Ta’amei HaMinhagim).
- If possible, one should host poor people at their table on this day. In this way, his “table” effects atonement.
- If one wishes to eat after completing the second meal, it is best to make a condition before reciting the Grace after Meals that he plans to continue eating and drinking after the meal.
- Red meat – so one shouldn’t be overly full when praying on Yom Kippur
- Sesame seeds. These tend to increase one’s saliva which would cause one to be distracted from the Yom Kippur prayers.
- Men should not eat garlic or eggs throughout the entire day (this doesn’t apply to eggs in cakes etc), nor dairy (including butter) or spicy foods in the afternoon. This is to ensure bodily purity. (One may have milk with his coffee.)
- In terms of eggs, one should not eat scrambled or warm boiled eggs. A cold boiled egg is permissible (Elef HaMagen, 606:49).
- It is customary to eat fish during the first meal. The Tur (Siman 604) recounts how a certain Jew outbid the servant of the ruler of the city to buy a fish for Erev Yom Kippur. In the second meal, however, some say one should not to eat (warm) fish. Some permit it.
- In addition, one should refrain from eating salty foods so as not to be thirsty on Yom Kippur.
- One should be careful not to drink alcohol to the point of inebriation on Erev Yom Kippur.
- One should not eat in a gluttonous manner.
- The Chabad custom is to administer the lashes before immersion in the Mikvah and Mincha.
- Some administer these lashes after Mincha.
- A leather strap (belt) is used.
- The one receiving the Malkot should kneel facing north. This is to symbolize that many sins are caused by greed for money. (North represents money as the verse (Job 37:22) says, “Gold is brought from the North.”) The one administering the lashes should tap the other lightly on his back 39 times while reciting the verse “Vehu Rachum” (top of pg. 118 in the Siddur) three times. The lashes begin on the right shoulder, then the left shoulder and then the center of the lower back. They continue in this circular pattern, repeating the verse of Vehu Rachum(which contains 13 words) three times, for a total of 39 times. The one receiving the lashes should also recite this verse together with the one giving them. Some recite confessionary prayers while receiving the lashes.
- The three repetitions of the verse represent the sins of thought, speech and action. The 13 words in the verse correspond to the fact that the court punishes from the age of 13.
- Some say that, if possible, a son should not administer these lashes to his father nor a student to his teacher (Piskei Teshuvot, 607, 5).
- Some immerse before Mincha in order to say the confession at Mincha in purity while others immerse after the Se’udah HaMafseket in order that the immersion be close to the beginning of Yom Kippur. Some do both.
- One should immerse after midday (chatzot) or, at the very earliest, up to one hour before that.
- Even one who immersed in the mikvah in the morning should immerse again before Mincha.
- Each time one should immerse oneself in the Mikvah at least three times.
- Some immerse thirteen times (see note).
- Some immerse 39 times corresponding to the number of lashes that were administered.
- A swimming pool is also sufficient for this purpose.
- It is better (but not necessary) to turn off the filter for this immersion.
- One who cannot immerse in a Mikvah should instead shower thoroughly for three or four minutes.
- In some communities, married women who are not in a state of Niddah also immerse in the women’s Mikvah on this day.
- Extensive preparation is not required for this immersion as (women do) for regular Mikvah immersions. Nevertheless, it is proper to make sure that one doesn’t have anything intervening between his (or her) body and the water and to shower before immersing.
- No blessing is recited on this immersion.
- One who is in mourning (G-d forbid) or is sitting Shiva may shower and immerse in the Mikvah within an hour or two of sunset. At this time, they no longer sit for shiva although the other laws of shiva apply until nightfall.
- According to the Talmud (Pesachim 51a), one may not bathe with one’s father, father-in-law, stepfather, or sister’s husband. Generally, Ashkanazim are not strict regarding this in terms of going to the mikvah. See Rama, Even Ha’Ezer, 23:6 and Otzar HaPoskim there.
- One should don one’s Shabbat clothes before Minchah.
- Before Mincha, it is customary to give a lot of Tzedaka (charity). The Baal Shem Tov taught that the unholy forces are disturbed by the sound of the rattling coins being given to Tzedakah at this time (Baal Shem Tov al HaTorah, Mador Rosh HaShana VeYom Kippur, 48).
- The Holy sefarim (books) write that one should give excessive amounts to Tzedakah, even beyond their means on this day especially to upright indigents. This is a tremendous segulah (propitious act) for atoning for one’s sins. The Alter Rebbe writes (Igeret HaTeshuvah, end of chapter 3) that although generally one should not give more than one-fifth of his income to tzedakah, one may do so in order to atone for one’s sins.
- During the silent Amida, Al Chet (the confessionary prayer) is added before the final paragraph (new Chabad siddur pg. 363). The purpose of confessing at this time is in case we will be unable to confess on Yom Kippur night (due to overeating or drinking [alchohol]).
- One should bend one’s head while reciting the Al Chet as a sign of humility. One should bang (the left side of) his chest with his fist (softly) to indicate that the sins we did were a result of the desires of the heart. We do the same every time we recite the Al Chet during Yom Kippur.
- One should not interrupt in the middle of the viduy (confessinary prayers) except to respond to Kedusha or Modim.
- One who did not annul his vows before Rosh HaShana should make sure to do it so before Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur Candles
- It is customary among Ashkenazim for the head of every household to light a 24-hour candle before Yom Kippur. This is called the Lebedikeh licht (the living light).
- Many reasons are given for this:
- Yom Kippur is the final judgment day.
- To have light with which to read Tehillim and the prayers of the day. (This reason applied before electricity.)
- In order to be able to recite Havdalah using the candle.
- This candle is to atone for the soul which is also called a candle.
- The candle has the gematriyah (numerical value) of 250. This corresponds to the limbs in a male body plus one for the nefesh(lower level soul) and one for the neshamah (Higher level soul). By lighting the candle, we ask G-d to atone for all of these.
- The number 250 also corresponds to the 248 positive mitzvot as well as the negative commands that are rectified by positive commands (lav hanitak la’asei) and the negative command that involves no action (lav she’ein bo maaseh). On this day we are asking G-d to forgive all our deficiencies in these areas.
- The second set of Luchot (tablets) were delivered to the Jewish people by Moshe on Yom Kippur. Thus, Yom Kippur is the day of the completion of the giving of the Torah. We commemorate this by lighting a candle since the Torah is compared to light.
- One who says Yizkor should light an additional candle. This is called the Neshama Licht – the Neshama candle. One candle is sufficient even if both parents have passed away.
- Chabad custom is that the Lebedikeh Licht is lit in Shul while the Neshama Licht is lit at home. Some do the opposite.
- The Alter Rebbe says that it is a bad sign if one’s candle goes out on Yom Kippur. Some therefore have the custom to place it in shul among the other candles in such a way that one will not know if his was extinguished.
- One should make sure to have at least one 24-hour candle in the home, so he can make the bracha on it during Havdalah (see below).
- The Shulchan Aruch states that a married couple should light a candle in their bedroom as a reminder that marital relations are forbidden on this night (see below).
- Although the fast begins at sundown, women and girls who are lighting candles (at pm) begin the fast at this time. Men must also add to the holy day by refraining from eating, working, etc. for at least several minutes before sundown. See 608:1 that this is a Torah obligation
- Two Brachot are recited: Lehadlik Ner Shel Yom HaKippurim and Shehec
- Candle-lighting is at 6:42 pm (Miami time)
Blessing of the Children
- The traditional blessing for boys includes: Yisimcha Elo-h-im K’Ephraim V’chi’Menashe (Gen. 48:2).
- (May G-d make you (grow up to) be like Efrayim and Menashe)
- The traditional blessing for girls includes: Yisemaich Elo-h-im K’Sora, Rivka, Rochel V’leah.
- (May G-d make you (grow up to) be like Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel, and Leah)
- The blessing for both boys and girls continues:
- The father then adds whichever blessing he wishes to bestow upon each child.
- All men and women (including women who are pregnant or nursing) are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur.
- As the fast proceeds and one feels weaker, one should be filled with joy over the great mitzvah he is performing. One should savor this mitzvah and wish it could extend for longer. One who constantly checks his watch, waiting impatiently to be able to break his fast is showing that he is not happy to fulfill this mitzvah. His reward will not be even one thousandth of the reward of one who fasted with joy. In addition, waiting for the fast to end makes it feel like a longer fast whereas fasting with joy makes it seem like the fast is over sooner.
- A woman who has given birth within the last three days is exempt from fasting.
- A woman who gave birth between three and seven daysbefore Yom Kippur is also exempt from fasting unless both she and her doctor ascertain that she can safely fast.
- A pregnant woman or one who gave birth more than seven days before Yom Kippur who feels that she is unable to fast should discuss this with her doctor and Rabbi.
- Anyone who has a life-threatening condition that requires them to eat, must do so. One should consult their doctor and Rabbi before Yom Kippur.
- Those requiring medication for a serious but not life-threatening illness should consult their Rabbi before Yom Kippur.
- Even when permission is given to eat, one should eat and drink in small doses, if possible. One should eat food that is less than the size of a large date (or the volume of a one-ounce shot glass), drink a tablespoon amount of water (less than a cheek full), wait nine minutes and repeat. Consult with a Rabbi for more details.
- One who is not well and eats the size of an olive of bread or more should recite the Grace after Meals and add Ya’aleh Veyavoh for Yom Kippur. One should not, however, recite Kiddush or do Lechem Mishnah (a blessing on two loaves of bread).
- Children under the age of 9 years need not fast. Children nine years old and above should be trained to fast part of the day. Health permitting, boys and girls from eleven years old until bar or bat mitzvah, should fast the entire day. The custom today is not to be strict in this matter and to permit children under Bar or Bat Mitzvah to not complete the fast. Nevertheless, it is proper to train children age 11 year and above to fast at least until midday.
- One should not wear shoes containing any leather or suede. This is true whether the upper part or the sole is made of leather.
- The Ta’amei HaMinhagim explains that normally we wear shoes to separate between our feet and the ground as the earth was cursed when Adam and Chava sinned. Whereas on Yom Kippur the ground is considered sanctified, and this separation is not necessary.
- Shoes made of other materials may be worn, even if they are comfortable. This is the main Halacha and the widespread custom. Some are strict and say that it is best not to wear shoes of other materials either but rather slippers or just socks.
- The rules regarding wearing leather shoes apply also to children of all ages.
- One may wear other garments that contain leather.
- One may not wash oneself on Yom Kippur.
- Upon waking up in the morning, one should wash one’s hands up to the knuckles that join the fingers to the hand.
- After drying one’s hands, one may use the remaining moisture to “wipe the sleep off” of one’s eyes.
- One may wash one’s eyes in the morning if they are encrusted.
- Children (or adults who must eat for health reasons) should wash their hands until the wrist (as usual) before eating bread.
- It is forbidden to immerse in the Mikvah on Yom Kippur even if one experiences a keri (which renders a man impure).
- A woman whose Mikvah night falls out on Yom Kippur must postpone her immersion to the next night.
- A woman may wash herself as necessary (in conformance with the laws of Yom Tov) in order to make a hefsek taharah. One may wash part of their body with warm water in this case but not most of it.
- One who went to the bathroom (and touched a part of his body that is normally covered) should wash his fingers afterwards until the end of his knuckles.
Oils and Lotions
- It is forbidden to anoint the body with any kind of oil or lotion on Yom Kippur. For this reason, one should not apply deodorant.
- Marital relations are forbidden on Yom Kippur.
- Throughout Yom Kippur, couples should conduct themselves as they do during the Niddah state.
- As mentioned above that, according to the Shulchan Aruch, one should light a candle in the bedroom where a husband and wife sleep as a reminder of this prohibition (see above).
- It is not customary for women to wear a kittel, but in some communities, women wear white clothing in honor of the holy day. (But see Shulchan Arucfh HaRav 610:9 that angels are considered to be “male.”)
- In addition, in some communities it is customary for women to not wear gold on this day as gold can allude to the sin of the golden calf.
- One should not take one’s kittel into the bathroom as it is a garment specifically used for prayer.
- Married men should wear a tallit for Kol Nidrei. One should recite the bracha (blessing) on the Tallit before sunset. One should recite Al Chet(confessionary prayers) privately as well as Tehillim before Kol Nidrei. This is to conform with the opinion that the main time to say viduy(confession) is as Yom Kippur begins.
- The Chabad custom is to recite psalms 115 to 123 at this time.
- It is customary to remove (at least) three Torah scrolls from the ark and stand holding them at the Bimah for Kol Nidrei.
- It is considered a great mitzvah to purchase the right to hold the first Torah Scroll during Kol Nidrei.
- Women who lit candles and said she’hechiyanu, should not say it again during the prayers.
- It is customary to recite the verse Baruch Shem (the second line of the Shema) aloud throughout Yom Kippur. This verse was heard by Moses from the angels, and so on this day when we all resemble angels, we say it aloud.
- Some people have the custom to recite the entire Tehillim (Psalms) on the night of Yom Kippur after Maariv. The Lubavitcher Rebbe would do this.
- Before going to sleep on this night, men should recite the first 4 chapters of Tehillim. This is a protection against unintentional impurity.
- When reciting the Kriat Shema before going to sleep, one does not say Tachanun, just like any Yom Tov.
Morning of Yom Kippur
- One should wash Negel Vasser (morning hand-washing) up to one’s knuckles.
- One may not rinse one’s mouth.
- One should omit the blessing of She-asa Li Kol Tzorki (new chabad siddur pg. 7). In this blessing, we thank G-d for our shoes. Since we cannot wear regular shoes on this day, we omit this blessing. According to Chabad custom, it is not recited at night after Yom Kippur.
- Some have the custom to recite this bracha on Yom Kippur as well (See Mishnah Berurah 554:31).
- During Musaf, the blessing of the Kohanim is said.
- Sefardim say Birkat Kohanim in Shacharit and Ne’ilah as well.
- The Kohanim’s hands should be washed up to their wrists. The Levi’im who customarily wash their hands before washing the Kohanim’s hands may also wash their hands. The Mateh Efrayim (621:17) writes that the Levi’im should only wash until their knuckles.
Nei’la and Ending the Fast
- Before the sounding of the Shofar, it is the Chabad custom to sing and dance a victory march (the tune is called Napoleon’s march) to show our confidence that Hashem has accepted our prayers.
Motza’ei Yom Kippur
- We pray Maariv with the Tallit and Kittel. (Men wear a hat.) Women who do not pray Maariv should say Baruch Hamavdil Bain Kodesh L’chol before doing any work.
- One who mistakenly said Hamelech hakadosh or HaMelech Hamishpatinstead of Hakeil Hakadosh etc. need not repeat the amidah.
- Before havdala, one should wash one’s hands fully for Negel Vasser(until the wrist) without a bracha. (As mentioned above, we do not recite She’asa li kol tzarki – the blessing on the shoes at this time).
- If one does not have such a candle, he should seek to obtain one. If he cannot, he should skip the blessing on the candle.
- Some have the custom that the person making havdalah shares the wine with others although this is not customary for a regular havdalah.
- It is proper to do Kiddush Levana (Sanctification of the New Moon) on this night as we are joyous after having achieved atonement.
- It is best for one to put on his regular shoes, hear havdalah and eat something before reciting Kiddush Levana.
- After Yom Kippur, it is customary for one to wish others a “Good Yom Tov.” This is because the night after Yom Kippur is considered a (mini) Yom Tov. For this reason, we have a festive meal (with a tablecloth, candles, challah etc., etc.) after Yom Kippur.
- One should have a full and proper sit-down meal. This meal elicits blessings for one’s physical needs throughout the year.
- One should dip the challah in honey when eating on this night.
- It is commendable to begin building the Sukkah on this night. If this is not possible, one should at least discuss building the Sukkah. If possible, one should complete the building of the Sukkah on the next day.
- The purpose of this is that when one finishes doing Teshuvah and begins a day that may include sins, one should (instead) begin with a mitzvah immediately. This can be understood as follows: After doing Teshuvah one is likely to revert to sin if he thinks that one need only serve G-d at certain times or with certain limbs. We therefore begin with the mitzvah of Sukkah which encompasses the entire person and all of his daily, and even mundane, activities. When one realizes that all of these must be used to serve G-d, he will not return to sin.
Hashem’s Name (G-tt’s Nomen)
Building a Sukkah
- 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.
- 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 sway only slightly (less than nine inches from the center to either side), it is kosher (Piskei Teshuvot 630, 9).
- The walls should be at least 39 inches high. They may not be higher than 30 feet.
- 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.
- 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’chachbegins, 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 known as 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.
- 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.
- From the language of the Alter Rebbe, it seems that one should specifically intend to build a Sukkah for the purpose of shade in order for the Sukkah to be kosher.
- The s’chach should be supported and held in place by wood or other material that is itself kosher to be used as s’chach.
- 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, 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 s’chach that remained on his sukkah from last year.
- It is not the Chabad custom to adorn the sukkah with pictures and the like.