Hilkhot Sukkot 5776

Rabbi David Pardo
Co-Director, JLIC at Brandeis

Sun Sept 28

Mon Sept 29

Tues Oct 30








Candle Lighting





Earliest Kiddush**








All davening will take place in the International Lounge
Zmanim are for Waltham, MA only

* In other words, light at or around (or before) 6:15, and 6:33 is shkia. Explanation below
 Kiddush on Sukkot must be made after tzeit ha-kokhavim, like on Pesach.


The Torah commands that we dwell in our Sukkot for the seven days of Sukkot. In the Diaspora, unless one has a family custom to the contrary, we also eat in the Sukkah on Shimini Atzeret. The Sages teach that we should strive to dwell in our Sukkah as we dwell in our homes. Whenever one eats substantial food in the sukkah[1] (bread or “mezonos” i.e., food derived from the five grains) we say the following brakha:

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו מצותיו וצונו לישב בסוכה

Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam Asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzinvanu leishev ba-sukkah.

Blessed are You Hashem our God, sovereign of the world, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

Sefaradim should only make this brakha when eating bread, i.e. ha-motzi[2]. As for the timing of the brakha, some stand, then make the brakha, then sit and make hamotzi/mezonos (and then eat), while some sit, make the hamotzi/mezonos and then the brakha on the sukka (and then eat). Both customs are valid.


We say 2 blessings each of the first two nights of chag. When possible candles should be lit in the sukkah.

On Sunday and Monday nights we say:

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של יום טוב

Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu lehadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

You are the Source of Blessing, Hashem our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who has sanctified us through his commandments and commanded us to kindle the candles Yom Tov.

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה.

Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam she-hechiyanu ve-kiyimanu ve-higi’anu la-zman ha-zeh.

You are the Source of Blessing, Hashem our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.

Candles lit on first night -- unlike Shabbat, where there is a hard and fast end time to when you can light candles (called shkia) and the “candle lighting time” listed in your local Orthodox calendar is 18 minutes before shkia, on Yom Tov, even after shkia, you have the option to transfer fire in order to light your candles (as per the normal rules of Yom Tov, and as is absolutely necessary on the second night, below). That said, Rabbi Soloveitchik indicated[3] that one who does not light on the first night before shkia fulfils the obligation to light candles but misses the element of kavod Yom Tov.

Candles on the second night of Yom Tov are lit after, rather than before, nightfall, because one may not prepare from one day of Yom Tov to the next. There is no particular need to light before maariv, so students davening with us may light after tfillah is over.

Rain and other Party Poopers

On Sukkot, at all times, all meals should be eaten in the Sukkah. Aside from the first nights, however, as long as it is raining strong enough to ruin our food we may eat indoors. If it rains on the first night, there are two schools of thought. Ashkenazim must wait to see if the rain will subside. If the rain does not subside, the meal may be taken in the house, but Kidush and an olive’s size piece of bread must be consumed in the Sukkah without the special “Leisheiv” brakha (and then everyone should shuffle indoors for the rest of the meal). Sefaradim need not enter the sukkah at all, and the halakha is like any other night.

For most people, discomfort due to cold weather does not create an exemption since it can be remedied by bundling up. However, anyone who suffers distress or a malady which, for whatever legitimate reason, makes eating in a Sukkah uncomfortable is under no obligation to be in the Sukkah.


There is a beautiful custom on Sukkot to invite both real and spiritual guests to our Sukkah. Just as the four walls of Abraham and Sarah’s tent were open to guests, so too we affirm the value of hachnasat orchim – hospitality as a fundamental to building the good society. This hospitality extends to all humanity, as we pray for the God to spread the shelter of the great Sukkah of peace over the entire world and all humanity. The traditional rite found in siddurim and benchers is to invite a different Patriarch and great Biblical leader each night of Sukkot.

Arba Minim (Lulav and Etrog)

One of the mitzvot of Sukkot is take the 4 species (lulav and etrog). When holding the Lulav (palm branch) in front of us with the spine of the branch facing us, the three Hadassim (myrtle) are to the right, and the two Aravot (river willow) are to the left,  slightly lower than the Hadassim. Every man, woman, and child (upon reaching an age of understanding) should take hold of a set of Arba Minim on each day of Sukkot and make the appropriate blessing(s) and wavings. For men this is Hiyyuv (obligation), for women this is Kiyyum (religious opportunity) and for children this is chinuch (education in a life of mitzvot).

The blessing for arba minim is usually said before Hallel, however, some have the custom to take the lulav before davening in the Sukkah. Shehechiyanu is said the first time someone performs the mitzvah each year.

We wave the arba minim on every day of Sukkot except for Shabbat.

Proper procedure: it is important to not pick up all four species the appropriate way before reciting the berakha, or you will risk accidentally fulfilling the mitzvah and then lose out on the opportunity to make a berakha (or worse: you’ll make the berakha and it will be inappropriate to do so). Therefore, there are a number of recommended workarounds. My preferred: position the etrog right in front of you on a table or equivalent, take up the lulav + 2, make the berakha, then take up the etrog, join it to the other three species, and begin waving.

One important note about borrowing and about children: There is an additional requirement that on the first day of Sukkot the arba minim belong to the person waving them because the Torah instructs us ulekachtem LACHEM ba-yom ha-rishon… (You should take for YOURSELVES on the first day…). If one does not have their own lulav and etrog and are using that of a friend it should be given to the person as a gift so that they own it. After completing the mitzvah they may give it back to the original owner as a gift. Regarding children, however, halakha holds that a child knows how to acquire, but not give, so if you let your child shake your lulav on the first day of Sukkot, make sure it is only after you have fulfilled your own obligation.

We wave the lulav and etrog as part of Hallel, and we also parade around shul with them as part of hoshanot.

Cooking on Yom Tov
On Yom Tov we are permitted to perform certain activities that we can't do on Shabbat if they fall under the category of
ochel nefesh (things that are beneficial to the soul). This broad category includes cooking and preparing food for the Chag, carrying, and other activities. One may cook on Yom Tov with the following restrictions:

“Sabbath Mode” Ovens

A number of different on-campus oven models are equipped with a feature called “Sabbath mode.” To be clear, this is an example of the worst marketing failure in history: they may not be used on the Sabbath.[4] There is no oven that allows you to cook on Shabbat. Sorry, GE. They were designed for Yom Tov.

Showering on Yom Tov

Many poskim feel that showering on Yom Tov is permitted by the principle of ochel nefesh (things that are beneficial to the soul) if a person feels particularly dirty from not having showered.  If one decides that he/she needs to shower on Yom Tov, the following guidelines must be followed:


Havdallah should be said in the Sukkah, but no brakha of leishev ba-sukkah is said. Havdallah is made only on wine - candle and spices are excluded.

Class on Yom Tov

Many students have asked me about the permissibility of attending class on Yom Tov. My advice is to not attend class and to make arrangements in advance for a non-Jewish classmate to take notes for you.  While there is no technical prohibition with attending class, it is certainly not within the spirit of the  holiday. It is also important to keep some perspective. While Brandeis’ calendar with no classes on the first day of Yom Tov but regular classes on the second day may seem strange to us, we are quite fortunate to have a large number of yamim tovim off. Most schools have class on all days of Yom Tov – including Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  The official university policy is that students must be excused from classes that meet on Yom Tov. They must provide advance notice to their professors and complete all assignments in a timely manner.  Professors are not required to allow an extension to students who missed class because of Yom Tov. It also goes without saying that the university does not provide for excused absences to allow students to travel for the holidays.

If anyone experiences trouble with a professor not excusing them for Yom Tov they should bring it to the attention of me and/or Rabbi Winick as well as the department chair.

Chol ha-Moed

No unnecessary work should be done on chol ha-moed that does not directly contribute to our enjoyment of the holiday or our preparations for Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Going to class and taking notes is considered a matter of great loss if one doesn’t go.  Students therefore can go to class and participate fully.

[1] Shulchan Aruch OC 639:8, Rama ad loc

[2] Hazon Ovadia seif 31

[3] based on the Rambam, Shabbat ch. 5

[4] Here’s a bummer story about a guy who didn’t know that.