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Tuesday
Oct152019

Should a child shake a lulav the first day of Sukkos?

A collection of relevant halachos regarding Sukkos from AskTheRav.com & Halacha2Go.com
By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara D’asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din

The First Night of Sukkos

In addition to the mitzvah of sitting in the Sukkah throughout the Yom Tov of Sukkos, it is a mitzvah de’oreisa (a mitzvah from the Torah) to eat a kezayis of challah, or bread, on the first night of Sukkos in the sukkah. This is a similar mitzvah to the mitzvah of eating a kezayis of matzah on the first night of Pesach. The kezayis of bread in the sukkah should be eaten after nightfall, and concluded by chatzos. In addition, this kezayis should be eaten within a time span known as kedei achilas pras, preferably within three minutes. If that is not possible, then within four minutes; there are also other more lenient time frames, if necessary.

Even people who are mitztaer, experiencing discomfort, and are exempt from the mitzvah of Sukkah, and even if it is raining, one should ensure to fulfill this very special mitzvah de’oraisa. Outside of Eretz Yisroel where Yom Tov is celebrated for two days, this mitzvah—-albeit with some leniencies—applies on a de’rabbonan level on the second night of Sukkos.

Visiting Friends in their sukkah

The mitzvah of yeshiva b’sukkah, sitting in the sukkah, includes other activities besides eating in the sukkah, such as learning Torah, spending time there leisurely, etc., which fall under the rubric of yeshiva b’sukkah. However, we only make the brocho of leisheiv ba’sukkah upon eating more than a kebeitza (the volume of an average size egg) of bread or mezonos. This brocho covers all other activities that are done that day in the sukkah. In the case of a person spending time leisurely in a sukkah where they have not eaten that day, strictly speaking, one must make a leisheiv ba’sukkah just on spending time there.

A similar issue arises in the case of a get-together in a sukkah where only beverages are served, be it wine, tea, or other drinks. There is a question in halacha whether a leisheiv ba’sukkah is required for the drinks. In order to avoid this problem, one should only attend this get-together if he has already eaten in the sukkah that day, and made a leisheiv basukkah. In order to avoid these shailos, the custom is to offer visitors some mezonos so they can make a leisheiv ba’sukkah.

Lulav for Children

The posuk, Biblical verse, states “Ulekachtem lachem—You shall take for yourselves.” From the words lachem we learn that in order to fulfill the mitzvah of the daled minim, the four specieson the first day of Sukkos, they have to be one’s own.  (According to many poskim, in chutz la’aretz, outside of Eretz Yisroel, where we celebrate two days of Yom Tov, this requirement applies to the second day as well.)

Therefore, on the first days of Sukkos one should not give their set of daled minim to a child to use before making the brochos themselves, since according to halacha, a child can be koneh, acquire, but cannot be makneh, transfer ownership. Halachically, when an adult gives their set of daled minim to a child it becomes the child’s, but the child cannot (halachically) transfer ownership back to the adult. Even when the adult has already fulfilled the mitzvah, but now wishes to have other people bench, as many do on mivtzoim, it is not considered lachem, their own, if a child has been given it to use in the interim. One of the options is to buy a child their own set of daled minim. 

(Incidentally, when giving the daled minim to another person to bench, especially on the first day, the giver should say that it is a gift on condition that it be returned, so that at the time that the recipient is using them they should in fact be using their own, in  accordance with the halachic requirement of lachem).

Should I Daven Hallel with the Minyan if I have no Lulav?

The recitation of Hallel on Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh was instituted primarily within the context of a minyan (prayer quorum [of at least ten men]). On Sukkos, the na’anuim (“movements,” i.e. the shaking in all directions) of arba’as haminim (the Four Kinds) during Hallel are regarded as a primary aspect of the mitzvah of lulav (though the mitzvah is fulfilled in a basic way without them). This leads a person who does not own a set of arba minim to make a difficult choice: should he daven Hallel with the minyan without being able to practice the na’anuim during Hallel—or should he daven Hallel later b’yechidus (privately) with a borrowed set of arba minim?

There is no clear answer to this conundrum. There are poskim who maintain that it is better to recite Hallel at a later time to be able to fulfill the mitzvah of lulav optimally, while others support a lulav-less but minyan-enabled Hallel. The rule in such a case is: “D’avid k’mar avid, d’avid k’mar avid” (one who does like this has acted [legitimately] and one who does like that has acted [legitimately])— so ha’bocher yivchar (the chooser should choose).

The optimal solution for a person without a lulav is to borrow* the arba minim from a neighboring davener who has completed the na’anuim—even if only to do the actual na’anuim as he recites the relevant phrases in Hallel—and then quickly catch up with the minyan.

*When borrowing a set of arba’as haminim from another to perform the mitzvah on the first day of Sukkos (and outside Eretz Yisroel, on the second day, too), it must be matanah al menas l’hachzir (a gift on condition of returning it). It is recommended to be careful when borrowing for Hallel, too; it is questionable whether the na’anuim—as an important feature of the mitzvah of lulav—is properly fulfilled if using an improperly borrowed set.

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