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Chol HaMoed is a very popular time in Israel for families to go on tiyulim to all sorts of places. The weather is generally good, many parents are off from work, and students are on vacation. The problem that arises on Chol HaMoed Sukkot in particular is that there is a mitzvah, at least for men, to sit in the Sukkah anytime that a meal or filling foods, such as bread and grains, are eaten.1 So what should one do if they plan an entire day tiyul and want to eat lunch or dinner while they are out? Although many locations in Israel do indeed have Sukkot available for public use, many places do not, and certainly those who are hiking in the forest or uninhabited areas will not be capable of finding a Sukkah. Does the halakha require one to sit in a Sukkah even if there are none around while traveling?2 An additional potential problem, at least in Eretz Yisrael, is that one is obligated to sleep in the Sukkah as well, and it is forbidden to sleep for even a short time outside of the Sukkah.3 If so, even dosing off or sleeping in the car may be an issue.4 In order to answer this question, we need to look at a passage in the Gemara that deals with travelers on Sukkot and determine whether the rules given there are applicable to our situation. The Gemara (Sukkah 27a) says that הולכי דרכים, those that travel, are exempt from the mitzvah of Sukkah while they are traveling. However, at night, when they are lodging, they are obligated. The Gemara continues that those embarking on a trip whose purpose is fulfill a mitzvah are always exempt, even at night while they are lodging somewhere, because they are busy thinking about the mitzvah (Rashi), and one who is busy with one mitzvah is exempt from another.
For the details concerning what foods must be eaten in the sukkah and which need not be, see below and the Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah (O.C. 639), as well as more modern sefarim such as the Piskei Teshuvot (siman 639) and Mikraei Kodesh by Rav Moshe Harari, as well as very brief summaries on the internet that can be found at http://halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Eating_in_the_Sukkah and http://www.ou.org/chagim/sukkot/obligation.htm 2 We will focus mainly on day trips in this piece, trips that last overnight involve additional problems, based on the passage below that travelers must still build a Sukkah where they stay at night. For an extensive analysis of this issue in the context of youth groups, see Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s article cited below.
Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 639:2) For more on this issue concerning sleeping in a car or bus while traveling in general, see Piskei Teshuvot (639:#6).
Who is included in the exemption of ?הולכי דרכיםIs anyone who travels exempt from the mitzvah, or does it only include those that go for specific reasons, such as business, but wouldn’t necessarily apply to a tiyul taken for pleasure. Rashi (s.v. holchei) mentions specifically going for Sechorah, or business. According to him, it it is possible that the exemption may be limited to necessary trips, such as business trips which are needed to financially support the family, but perhaps pleasure trips might not be included. If so, one would still be required to sit in the Sukkah when eating foods which normally require it, and if one cannot find a Sukkah there, then they may not go. Tosafot and most other rishonim though does not mention a specific purpose for the trip, which may indicate that anyone who is traveling is not obligated in the mitzvah, regardless of the reason. According to either opinion, the logic of this exemption would be based on the concept of Teshvu K’ein Taduru: You are not obligated in the mitzvah if you wouldn’t remain in your house in the same situation either. In this case, if you wanted to go on a tiyul, you wouldn’t remain in your house, so here too you can leave your Sukkah as well. The only possible question could be whether this exemption is only applicable in cases when a trip is necessary, or even lechatchilah when it is not critical. Which of the above opinions is accepted as the normative halakha? The Beit Yosef (O.C. 640), in citing this case, quotes rishonim who don’t mention a specific example of Holchei Derachim, like Tosafot, and explain the reason as based on Teshvu K’ein Taduru. The Shulchan Aruch (640) as well simply says that Holchei Drachim are patur, and many of the commentaries, including the Mishnah Berurah, do not qualify who these Holchei Derachim are. These sources would seem to give the impression of following Tosafot and giving a blanket exemption to the rule. The Aruch HaShulchan, however, does give the example of someone going for business or for “davar acher,” some other reason. It is unclear what he means by davar acher: It is possible he means for any purpose, but it may be more likely that he means one is exempt when going for other important reasons, similar to business travels. Numerous contemporary poskim directly address the question of taking tiyulim on Sukkot, and many of them assume that the exemption is limited to necessary trips, based on the comments of Rashi and Aruch HaShulchan, but would not apply to pleasure trips. Among these poskim is Rav Moshe Feinstein,5 who rules that there must be some important necessity like business to qualify for the
Igrot Moshe O.C. 3:93
exemption of Holchei Derachim. He marshals four different arguments to support his position: 1. The exemption only applies for a purpose that all people would go in that situation, not just something that some people would go for, & Rav Moshe believes that not everyone would necessarily go on a tiyul. 2. The exemption for someone who is in distress (mitzta’er), which Tosafot compares to our case of Holchei Derachim, means you must be actually experience discomfort, but simply wanting to sit outside in the sun is not included in this category. So, too, someone takes a tiyul when they want to go somewhere outside, and this is not a sufficient reason to qualify for mitzta’er. 3. Rav Katina declares in the Gemara (Menachot 41a) that at a time of Divine anger we are punished even for forgoing a Mitzvat Aseh, a positive mitzvah. Although his context refer to wearing tzitzit even when not strictly required, Rav Moshe applies his principle to our case as well, and suggests that we would be subject to Divine anger here as well if we purposely placed ourselves in situations in which we are exempt from the mitzvah. 4. Rav Moshe claims that the purpose of such a trip is simply “taanug b’alma,” physical pleasure, and thus there is no significant purpose to going, while the exemption only refers to situations such as Rashi’s description of a business trip or other important matter. Rav Ovadia Yosef6 also rules that someone on a tiyul is not exempt from Sukkah, a ruling which is echoed as well by his son Rav Yitzchak Yosef,7 and argues similar to Rav Moshe that Chazal only exempted business travelers or the like. He adds that business may even be considered a “tzorech mitzvah ktzat”, a slight mitzvah need, as evident from the Rama (O.C. 248) who rules that one may embark on a ship on Friday for such a purpose, even though normally one is only allowed to do so for a tzorech mitzvah. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach8 also says one should not go if it means he will eat outside the Sukkah, and supports his psak with an additional idea that you don’t need to go on a tiyul specifically on Chol HaMoed, you can go before or after Yom Tov as well. This situation, he claims, is similar to the ruling of the Magen Avraham (O.C. 640:4) that becoming ill from stomach problems after drinking too much alcohol is not a petur from Sukkah, because it wasn’t necessary to drink specifically on Sukkot, it could have been done before or after. Although the Mishnah Berurah does not cite this comment as practical halacha, nevertheless he feels it is appropriate to take it into account,
Yechaveh Daat 3:46 Yalkut Yosef Moadim 640 8 Halichot Shlomo Moadim
especially when dealing with non-essential trips such as pleasure tiyulim.9 Many other poskim also rule this way, including Rav Gavriel Zinner (Nitei Gavriel, Sukkot) and others cited in the Sefer Piskei Teshuvot (640:#12) also rules the same way and quotes the same sources. Although there are many poskim who adopt this position, a number of the arguments raised can be responded to as follows: 1. Many of these poskim seem to have adopted Rashi’s explanation who mentions going for business, but the other rishonim, including Tosafot and many others who don’t mention that, may very well hold any reason you travel is included. Indeed, even Rashi himself may not have cited the example of business as a defining parameter, but just as a common example in those times. This is because the primary reason for the exemption is Teshvu K’ein Taduru: Anytime you’d leave your house, you can leave your Sukkah. So if you might travel to go on a tiyul when you have free time, you should be allowed to here also. 2. Tosafot’s mention of the petur mitzta’er is not intended to explain the exemption in this case as being based on that, but rather simply as a comparison to illustrate that both cases depend on the principle of Teshvu k’ein taduru. But if this is a normal reason to leave your house, then the exemption may still apply, as discussed in #1. 3. Rav Katina’s comment may be relevant, but here we may have other factors at work as well. There is a mitzvah to travel the land of Israel and see the many different facets of the land, and certainly one who travels on a tiyul would fulfill this mitzvah. In addition, if it is important for the family dynamic to spend time together involved in these types of activities, then perhaps that should override the concern of Rav Katina. 4. Although in theory it may be possible to go during other times of the year, many people work and Chol HaMoed is one of the times that is easiest to go, especially for those living in Israel, as many people are on vacation. Indeed, many people specifically try to take their vacation on Chol HaMoed so as to avoid the potential halachic issues with working on Chol HaMoed, so if this is their opportunity to go, perhaps we should encourage them to do so. 5. Although many of the above poskim felt that such activities do not qualify as important enough to warrant the exemption, perhaps there is a significant benefit to going. This is the time to bond with
R'Shlomo Zalman Auerbach also mentions that in his opinion, it is prohibited to sleep in the car while traveling as well, since this is not a necessary trip in his opinion, as opposed to visiting family, etc. where perhaps there is more room to be lenient.
family & enhance your Simchat Chag in an appropriate way, and especially when doing so in Eretz Yisrael, which may involve an additional mitzvah itself, and thus shouldn’t be considered simply “taanug b’alma” as Rav Moshe suggested. 6. The Rama (O.C. 248) in the context of embarking on a ship on Friday (cited above) also mentions seeing a friend as being a ktzat mitzvah to allow, so perhaps our case may also be included. There are indeed a number of poskim who treat our tiyul travelers as Holchei derachim and indeed feel that they are halachically exempt from Sukkah, at least me’ikar hadin, according to the strict halacha. Many of them cite these arguments as well as a number of others (it is worthwhile to see each of these sources inside, as all of them have various other sources, nuances and arguments in addition to the ones mentioned here). These poskim include Rav Aharon Lichtenstein,10 Rav Yaakov Ariel,11 Rav Asher Weiss, Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg,12 and others, such as those cited by Rav Eliezer Melamed.13 However, even many of these poskim believe that ideally one should make every effort to fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah properly and not to rely on this exemption as much as possible. Given the sources and opinions we have seen, it would certainly seem that ideally a person should ensure they can fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah properly. Practically, this usually will mean that a family wishing to go on a tiyul must do one of two things: 1. The adult males, and possibly boys that are above the age of Chinuch,14 must avoid eating foods that require eating in a Sukkah. They would be allowed to eat most foods whose berakha are not Mezonot or Hamotzee, as well as a small amount of Mezonot and HaMotzee foods, i.e. less than a k’betzah, which is about 58 gm (according to the more stringent opinions). This could include cheese, fish, eggs, certain cereals, chicken, vegetables, fruits, small amounts of pasta, cookies, bread, etc., and other foods. While this is not ideal from a culinary perspective, it is doable for a day trip to
http://www.vbm-torah.org/sukkot/suk-ral.htm B’oholah shel Torah O.C. 93 12 Both cited along with others by Rav Moshe Harari in Mikraei Kodesh, Sukkot, pp.759-763 13 http://www.yeshiva.org.il/midrash/shiur.asp?id=22361&cat=421 14 As discussed by the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch, boys are obligated in the mitzvah of Sukkah over the age of Chinuch, which is approximately age six or seven. It would seem for this issue also that if possible they should be stringent in the same way as their father. However, it is possible that since this may cause them difficulty, one may rely on the more lenient opinions that exempt travelers even when going for a tiyul. But this will still raise the educational issue about avoiding a mitzvah discussed below.
eat a nice meal before departing and eat enough of these foods to fill up during the day until they return. 2. Make sure to find a location in which a Sukkah is available. In many tourist attractions in Israel, it is indeed possible to find a Sukkah to sit in, but there are often halakhic problems with the construction that could render them invalid,15 it is worthwhile to call one’s rabbi if there is any question as to the status of such a Sukkah. In addition, locations suitable to hiking often will not have a Sukkah on the premisis.16 If the above options are not doable for whatever reason, and the family cannot postpone the tiyul to another time, and their intentions are to enjoy the family bonding time and to see parts of Eretz Yisrael, there may be room for leniency according to some of the poskim cited above. Nevertheless, one must seriously consider the message being sent to one’s family and children in this situation: That the mitzvah of Sukkah is something which can be waived. We should ideally be training our children to feel excited and inspired to fulfill this special mitzvah such that they will feel it is necessary and they have a desire to fulfill even at the expense of other important considerations. Rav Lichtenstein, in discussing organized youth group tiyulim in Israel over Chol HaMoed, writes: However, the question itself, especially when asked by Israeli youth groups that stand for education in service of Hashem and fear of God - and that no small number of benei Torah are involved in - is problematic. For decades I was in the Diaspora in places where the mitzva of sukka was not considered an "easy mitzva," and I was never asked about using the traveler's exemption when one is far from a sukka during the day. Did it ever enter the mind of a businessman that strives to scrupulously fulfill mitzvot and, in the course of his business, finds himself in New York's skyscrapers, to eat his lunch in his office because there is no sukka in his vicinity? Did a student who views himself as rooted in Torah and fear of God and finds himself forced to spend a long day in a university library ever think of eating in a cafeteria because the campus did not have a sukka? Is it possible that in Israel, where the mitzva of sukka is both easier and more inclusive - a mitzva that even many that are not generally observant still relate to in one way or another This could include insufficient Schach in critical parts of the Sukkah, walls made of straps which may not have been placed properly, and a number of other issues. 16 In addition to this, they may have to try not to sleep in the car or bus on the way as well, as mentioned above, which is the regular rule for someone who is not exempt, and is generally appropriate to follow in Eretz Yisrael.
is it possible that here benei Torah should avoid keeping this mitzva in its fullness? A Jew must be saturated with an ambition and longing for mitzvot and not, God forbid, view them as a burden he is inescapably stuck with that he tries to cast off at the first opportunity. This point is at the root of the trait of "zerizut" (acting with enthusiasm and energy), rooted in the obligation not just to serve God, but to serve him with joy and exhilaration. Rabbi Eliezer's statement, "If one's prayer is a fixed obligation it is not a supplication," is explained by Rav Oshaya as "One whose prayer is a burden to him." Of course this has special meaning in its home context, relating to prayer, but the concept at its root applies to all mitzvot. The gemara (Pesachim 105b) explains that on Erev Shabbat kiddush precedes birkat ha-mazon (if one was eating when Shabbat enters) and that on Motza'ei Shabbat birkat ha-mazon precedes kiddush, because: "Shabbat entering is different than Shabbat leaving; we try and have it enter as early as possible out of our love for it and have it exit as late as possible so that it is not a burden on us." This is not just a derush or a pious custom, but mainstream halakha. This principle reflects a halakhic approach in all of its power and scope, beyond the restricted formal plane. May we all merit to enjoy our Chol HaMoed in the appropriate manner with our families, enjoy the beauty of Eretz Yisrael, and also merit to fulfill the mitzvah of living in the Sukkah in the most halachically optimal matter.
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