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(Halachos/Minhagim pertaining to Sukkos and the other holidays in the month of Tishrei)

Revised for 5771



1) It is a Mitzvah for each Jew to personally take part in the building of their Sukkah, rather than have someone else build the entire thing for them. (See Talmud Kidushin 41a; the concept of Mitzvah Bo Yoser M’Beshelucho.)

One who does it himself receives more reward than simply asking or hiring someone else to do it. (Rashi ibid.)

2) This applies to all people, even respectable people, Talmidei Chachamim and dignitaries who usually should not be involved in menial tasks and physical labor. (See Machzik Bracha Siman 625:3. See also Talmud Shabbos 119a that Talmidei Chachamim toiling for a Mitzvah is their biggest honor. See also Mishna Berura Siman 250:4 and Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil Yishtadel.

The Steipler Zatzal was known to schlep the S’chach and place them on his Sukkah and refused to allow anyone to help him. This was also the custom of many other Gedolim)


1) If one is unable to build a Sukkah on their own and has someone else do it for them, it is proper to have the one building it to at least leave off a small amount of S’chach for the owner of the Sukkah to put up by himself. (Kaf HaChaim Siman 625:11)

Likewise, it is good to be personally involved in the set up and decorating of the Sukkah. (See Sefer Elef Hamagen Siman 626-644:4)

When one appoints someone else to build their Sukkah, it is proper to say to them ” You are my Shaliach Mitzvah, my messenger to do this Mitzvah of putting up my Sukkah and S’chach L’Shem Mitzvah, for the purpose and intent of performing the Mitzvah of sitting in the Sukkah” (Kaf HaChaim ibid. )

One should ideally not have his Sukkah built by a non Jew, especially the laying of the S’chach. (Chida in Sefer Kaf Achas Siman 24:2. See also Elef Hamagen ibid.)

2) The Mitzvah of building a Sukkah is in it of itself a [part of the] Mitzvah and not only a means by which to be able to sit in the Sukkah.

Rav Reuven Margolis Zatzal in his Sefer Nefesh Chaya (Siman 625:1) writes that even one who cannot sit in the Sukkah (due to illness or other valid Halachic reason) and has no male family members that are required to sit in the Sukkah, still should have a Sukkah built to at least perform the mitzvah of “Building” a Sukkah! (As a proof to this ruling he cites the Talmud in Makos 8a and Shavuos 29a and also a Talmud Yerushalmi Brachos Perek 9:3 where the Talmud says to recite a blessing on the “Building of a Sukkah”.)

He goes so far as to say that this person would recite a “Shehechiyanu” when assisting in the building of this Sukkah as he won’t be reciting it when sitting in it!

Although we do not rule like the Nefesh Chaya in this matter , it still helps us understand the importance of being involved in the building of a Sukkah. (See Taz to Siman 641)


1) It is customary to decorate the Sukkah with nice fruits- especially of the Shivas HaMinim variety-, nuts, olive oil, grape leaves and wines. (See Rashi to Sukkah 10a Dibur Hamaschil Yaynos U’shmanim. Some have the custom to later use the olive oil that hung in the Sukkah for the Chanukah Menorah as to use something that was used for a Mitzvah and use it for an additional Mitzvah. See Mishna Berura Siman 673:27. )

It is also a proper custom to hang beautiful curtains, decorations and other nice things in the Sukkah.
The purpose of hanging all these things is to bring those sitting in the Sukkah to a state of happiness. (See Mishna Berura Siman 638:11, Elef HaMagen Siman 625:38 and Sefer Seder HaYom Seder Mitzvas Sukkah, page 171. See also Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 5 Siman 39:6 and 40:4 for more on the topic of decorating the Sukkah)

2) Many have the custom to hang pictures of Gedolei Yisroel, Torah leaders, past and present, to adorn their Sukkah. (Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld Zatzal, the Rav of Yerushalayim maintained that this is due to “Teishvu K’Ein Taduru”, the mandate to make your Sukkah feel like your home” and most people have portraits of Gedolim hanging in their home.

The Steipler Zatzal had many Gedolim pictures hanging in his Sukkah (including portraits of Rav Chaim Brisker, his son the Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitzik Zatzal, the Chazon Ish, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky and Rav Elchonon Wasserman Zichronam L’Vracha (See Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2 page 221 and Vol. 5 page 117)


Halachos for Wednesday, Erev Sukkos

1) It is proper to keep the tables in the Sukkah covered with a nice tablecloth for the duration of the Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed. (Kaf HaChaim Siman 639:11)

Each night of Sukkos, every Jewish household merits having  the seven pillars of Klal Yisroel, the seven shepherds of Israel, visit their Sukkah.

They are referred to as the “Ushpizin” or guests, and are [the souls of] Avraham Avinu , Yitzchak Avinu, Yaakov Avinu, Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon HaKohen, Dovid Hamelech and Yosef Hatzaddik.

These seven spiritual giants leave their eternal resting places in Gan Eden and pay a visit to the Sukkos of each and every Jew to partake of the intense spirituality that is present in each and every Sukkah (Based on the Zohar Hakadosh Parshas Emor)

2) Some people have a custom to light a special candle each night in honor of that night’s Ushpizin (besides for Shabbos and Yom Tov, where the regular candles suffice).

Some even have the custom, while lighting this candle, to say “I am lighting this candle in honor of Avraham Avinu” on the first night, “in honor of Yitzchak Avinu” on the second night and so on for each night of Sukkos.

Some have the custom to light seven candles each night. (Kaf HaChaim Siman 639:9 and 625:16. See also Yesod V’Shoresh H’Avodah Sha’ar 11:14)





If it rains on the first night of Sukkos [as well as the second night in Chutz L’aretz, L’chatchilah], before going and eating indoors it is proper to wait a little whilein the hopes that the rain will subside and the Mitzvah of eating in the Sukkah will be able to be fulfilled.

Some say to wait half an hour, others say an hour or two, while some even say the obligation is to wait until Chatzos, midnight.

If it does not stop raining the Sukkah should be entered anyhow, Kiddush should be made in the Sukkah including the Bracha of Shehechiyanu, the hands should be washed and a kzayis of bread should be eaten, without reciting thre Bracha of “Leishev BaSukkah”, and the rest of the meal should be finished indoors.

If the rain stops during the meal, a brief return to the Sukkah should be made, a “Leishev B’sukkah” recited and a little more than a K’Beitzah of bread eaten.

Afterwards,assuming the Sukkah is all wet and water is dripping from the Schach, the meal may be finished indoors.

Birchas Hamazon is recited indoors.

If the rain stops after the meal was finished and Birchas hamazon was already recited, it is still proper to go out at some point during the night to recite a Leishev B’sukah on a little more than a K’beitaza of bread. If one already went to sleep, they do not need to wake up to do this.
(See Shulchan Aruch Siman 639 and Mishna Berura S”K 35 and 36)


1) Some have the custom to place a special chair covered with a nice piece of material in the Sukkah in honor of the Ushpizin. (Similar to the chair set up at every Bris in honor of Eliyahu Hanavi). Some even have the custom to put holy Sefarim on this chair. (See Chida in Sefer Moreh Etzba Siman 9:289 where he brings this custom, and quotes the Zohar that if this chair isn’t set up, the Ushpizin will not come. See also Kaf HaChaim 639:8)

2) It is customary to “invite” the Ushpizin into the Sukkah each night, reciting a special text which is printed in most siddurim.

Some people stand near the door to the Sukkah when reciting it, however the prevalent minhag is to say it while sitting at the table. (See Chida ibid., Kaf HaChaim Siman 639:8 and Ben Ish Chai ; Year one; Parsha Ha’azinu Siman Siman 7)

Some people only say this “invitation” text on the first night and it suffices for the entire Yom Tov. (This was the custom of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal, quoted in Sefer Shalmei Moed Perek 28)


1) It is a huge Mitzvah to invite poor, less fortunate people to partake of the meals in the Sukkah.
If one is unable to do so, efforts should be made to send food to the poor people in their own homes. (See Rambam Hilchos Yom Tov Perek 6:18 that at times when we are rejoicing with our families, it is a specific time to help the downtrodden rejoice as well. See also Kaf HaChaim Siman 625:17 and 639:10. See also Mishna Berura Siman 529:17 and Be’er Heitev 529:2 what they quote from the Zohar regarding one who does not help poor people on Yom Tov.)

2) If one cannot send food to poor people in their homes, one should at least give money to the poor people, or to organizations that feed poor people.

It is best if the money/food will reach the poor people on or before Yom Tov and not afterwards. Thus, it is best to give it to local charities/Gabai Tzedaka rather than mail it to a larger organization that will probably not receive it or distribute it until much after Sukkos. (See Sefer Pele Yoetz ;”Sukkah” and “Yomim Tovim” for more on this.)


1) Even though women and children are not obligated to sit in a Sukkah , it is still a Mitzvah for each Jew to have his wife and children sit in the Sukkah as by sitting in a Sukkah they earn eternal heavenly reward. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 640:1 and Ran to Rosh Hashana 33a)

Women and children who sit in a Sukkah merit having their souls cleansed and merit receiving heavenly goodwill. (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 640:5)

2) All components of the Sukkah have extreme holiness, including the wood of the walls. (Shla HaKadosh quoted in the Kaf HaChaim Siman 639:6)

Many G-d fearing, spiritually elevated Jews had the custom to kiss the Sukkah upon entering and exiting each time, to show their love and affection for this exalted Mitzvah. (Shla Hakadosh. See also Elef Hamagen Siman 644:22 )


1) Many exalted things have been written regarding the proper performance of and proper conduct in and around the Sukkah.

A few of the many examples:

Every moment that one sits in the Sukkah is an additional performance of the positive commandment to sit in the Sukkah and serves to purify and make the person holier. (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 639:12. See also Shu”t Minchas Shlomo Vol. 2 Siman 58. In Sefer Minhagei Chasam Sofer Chapter 8:12 it is stated that the Chasam Sofer barely left his Sukkah for the entire 7 days of Sukkos and only left each day for Shachris; he davened Mincha and Maariv in his Sukkah)

It is proper not to get angry in the Sukkah, and surely not to speak Lashon Hara or D’varim Betailim (idle chatter) in the Sukkah. (See Be’er Heitev Siman 639:2 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 639:5 and 6)
Due to the extreme holiness of the Sukkah, it is proper not to invite non-Jews to enter the Sukkah. (See Shach Al HaTorah Parshas Emor and Kaf HaChaim Siman 639:6)

2) One who is scrupulous with the observance of Sukkah in this world, will merit having Hashem seat him/her at the Sukkah of the Levyasan (Leviathan) in the world to come.

Moreover, when he/she passes from this world, the merit of performing the Mitzvah of Sukkah properly will protect him/her from the angels of destruction. (Malachei Chavala created by sin, which torment a sinner’s soul after death) (Yalkut Shimoni
Parshas Emor 653, quoted in Elef Hamagen Siman 626-644:23. See also Kaf HaChaim Siman 625:8 and Ba’al HaTurim Al HaTorah VaYikra 23:43)

One who is scrupulous in the performance of Sukkah (known as Sukkas Shalom), will merit a year of harmony in his/her home(Shalom Bayis). (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 625:10 quoting the Yafeh Lalev)


1) The Lulav(branch of a palm tree) has three Hadasim (myrtle) and two Aravos (willow) tied onto it, and is held upright in the right hand and the Esrog (citron) is held in the left hand each day of Sukkos. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 651:2)

According to the Mechaber (Rav Yosef Cairo, author of the Shulchan Aruch) a left handed person follows the same procedure and holds the Lulav in the right hand and the Esrog in the left hand, as since the Lulav has in it three Mitzvos (i.e. 3 of the 4 species) and the Esrog is only one Mitzvah, the item with more Mitzvos is held in the more highly regarded hand. Most Sephardic Jews follow this ruling. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 651:3 and Mishna Berura S”K 18)

However, the Rama (ibid.) rules that left handed people should switch the order and hold the Lulav in their strong hand (left) and the Esrog in their weaker hand (right). Most Ashkenazic Jews follow this ruling.

An ambidextrous person should take the Lulav in his right hand and the Esrog in the left hand. (ibid.)
If the Lulav was held in the wrong hand, the obligation has been satisfied, however, it is best to be stringent and take the Lulav and Esrog again in the correct hands without reciting a new Bracha. (Rama ibid. and Mishna Berura S”K 19)

Many left handed people are stringent after taking the Lulav in their left and the Esrog in their right (or vice versa) to repeat the process the other way around (without a new Bracha) to satisfy the rulings of both the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama. (See Kaf HaChaim 651:38. See also Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2 page 288 that the Steipler Zatzal, who was a lefty and an Ashkenazi, followed the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch regarding this Halacha and not the Rama’s ruling)

2) When setting up and holding the Arba Minim, the three Hadasim (myrtle) should be tied onto the right side of the Lulav and the two Aravos (willow) should be tied onto the left side of the Lulav. (Mishna Berura Siman 651:12)

For kabalistic reasons, the Hadasim should be tied slightly higher than the Aravos. (Rama 651:1 and Mishna Berura ibid.)

Left handed people should also set up their Lulav with the Hadasim on the right side and the Aravos on the left. (This is how the Pri Megadim, quoted in Mishna Berura ibid. rules)


1) After reciting the Bracha on the Arba Minim, and then again during the recitation of Halel, the Lulav and Esrog are shaken three times per direction to and fro in all four directions and up and down. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 651:8 and 9)

There are various different customs as to the order of which direction to follow.

The Shulchan Aruch rules to shake to the east, south, west, north, upward then downward. (Siman 251:10. This is also the ruling of the Derech HaChaim and the Chayei Adam. See Mishna Berura S”K 47)
The reason for this order is based on the principle of “B’chol Pinos SheAta Poneh, Tifneh L’Yemin, whenever you have a choice to go to the right or to the left, always choose to go to the right”.(See Maseches Midos Perek 2 Mishna 2 and Talmud Yoma 15b and Sotah 15b)
Thus, since we are standing facing east, the direction to follow is a circle to the right. (Mishna Berura ibid. quoting the Mogen Avraham 651:21)

The Arizal had a different order to shake the Lulav, as follows: South, north, east, upward, downward then west. (See Be’er Heitev 651:20. See also Sha’arei Teshuva 651:10 for additional variations in the order of directions that other Poskim followed. Of course, every individual should follow their own accepted custom.)

2) Regardless which minhag any one individual follows in regard to the directions to shake the lulav, there is no difference between a left handed person and a right handed person regarding the order to be followed. (Mogen Avraham ibid.)

The person shaking the Lulav does not need to actually turn around in all the directions, as long as the Lulav is shaken in the proper directions it suffices. (Mishna Berura ibid.)

When circling the Bimah during the recitation of Hoshanos each day of Sukkos (and seven rounds on Hoshana Rabbah) the circle should begin from the right side of the Bimah. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 660:1 and Mishna Berura S”K 3)


Halachos for Wednesday, Hoshana Rabbah, October 19 2011

1) Many people have the custom to make the blessings on the Lulav and Esrog each day of Sukkos in a Sukkah, before going to Shachris.

Others have the custom, if the Shul has a Sukkah, to recite the blessings on the Lulav and Esrog in that Sukkah.

Many people, however, have the custom to recite the blessings in Shul immediately before reciting Halel. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 644:1 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 644:3. See also Siddur Ya’avetz, Orchos Rabeinu from the Steipler Vol. 2 page 292 and Halichos Shlomo Perek 11 footnote 73 for further details and reasoning for these customs)

2) It is important to be careful with the Lulav,Esrog, Hadasim and Aravos and not to treat them disrespectfully.

They shouldn’t be placed in a place where they may be stepped on, near a garbage etc. (See Birkei Yosef Siman 15:4. see also Shulchan Aruch Siman 664:8 for a more in depth discussion about this)


1) After davening on Hoshana Rabba, after using the Lulav and Esrog for the last time, many have the custom to place the Lulav (with the Hadasim and Aravos still bound to it) on top of the door, on top of the Aron Kodesh, or in another safe place and save it for Erev Pesach when it can be burned together with the Chametz.

The purpose of doing this is to use something that was used for a Mitzvah (the Lulav) in conjunction with yet another Mitzvah (burning the Chametz) (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 664:60. Based on a Talmud Yerushalmi Eiruvin Perek 6:7, quoted in Tur Siman 297:4. See also Orchos Rabbeinu from the Steipler Zatzal Vol. 2 Page 316)

2) Some have the custom to make a jelly/jam out of the Esrogim that were used for a Mitzvah. This jelly/jam is given to pregnant women to eat while they are in labor, as eating this Mitzvah jelly/jam is a Segulah for an easy birth and for the child to be healthy.

Many people also have the custom to taste this Esrog jelly/jam on the eve of Tu B’Shvat. (See Kaf HaChaim ibid. and Orchos Rabbeinu ibid.)

[It is proper to pray on the eve of Tu B'Shvat that one merit having a nice Esrog on the next Sukkos. See Bnei Yissoscher Chodesh Sh'vat Ma'amar 2. See also Sefer Lashon Chachamim Vol. 1 Siman 38]
It is a Segulah for pregnant women to bite off the Pitum of the Esrog on Hoshana Rabbah, and to give Tzedakah and daven for an easy labor. (See Likutei Maharich Sukkos page 106a. See also Elef Hamagen Siman 660:6 and Sefer Moed L’Kol Chai Siman 24:25 where a special Tefilah text is printed for the woman to say)


1) When dancing with the Torah on Simchas Torah, it is a mitzvah to rejoice as best as one can; this Simcha should be L’Shem Shomayim, in honor of Hashem and His holy Torah, and not simply an unstructured “party” or “good time” and surely one must be careful to avoid any levity or lightheadedness (S’Chok V’kalus Rosh) (See Tur and Rama Siman 669. See also Ben Ish Chai Parshas V’Zos HaBracha, year one, Siman 18 and Kaf HaChaim Siman 669:23. See also Mishna Berura Siman 669:11 and Rambam Hilchos Lulav Perek 8:15)

2) M’Ikar HaDin (according to the letter of the law) one must stand the entire time that the Sifrei Torah are out for the hakafos, in respect of the Torah. (Rav Bentzion Abba Shaul Zatzal was extremely stringent with this and didn’t sit down the entire Hakafos and ruled this way for all who were with him that were healthy and able bodied)

However, if it is difficult for one to stand, the Poskim are lenient and allow sitting down, besides for the first time around the Bimah of each hakafa when everyone must stand. (See Halichos Shlomo Perek 12:9 for the reasoning behind this leniency)

Some have the custom to only sit while holding a Sefer Torah in their hands. (This was the minhag of the Steipler Zatzal and YB”LCT Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Shlita)


1) Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah is an extremely opportune time, an Eis Ratzon, for one’s Tefillos to be accepted by HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Therefore it is proper to daven with extreme Kavanah. (See Sefer Moed L’Kol Chai Siman 25:1. This is based on a Zohar HaKadosh Parshas Noach and Parshas Tzav where it basically says that all that one asks for (in earnest) will be given to them! See also Sefer Seder HaYom Seder Simchas Torah Dibur Hamaschil U’Bsefer HaZohar)

2)It is customary to bid on and try to purchase the Aliyos known as “Choson Torah” (The aliyah where the Torah is “finished”) and “Choson Bereishis” (The Aliyah where the Torah is once again begun) for large amounts of money, which goes to support Talmidei Chachamim or the needs of the Shul where people daven and learn.

If possible, it is best to try and have these Aliyos go to Talmidei Chachamim or at least to respected people in the Tzibbur. (See Mishna Berura Siman 669:1)

The custom is for those who received the two aforementioned aliyos to make a Kiddush (on an upcoming Shabbos over the next few weeks) to celebrate their receiving these exalted Aliyos, as they are a celebration of the completion [and re-starting] of Torah. (Tur Siman 669. See also Beis Yosef there and Kaf HaChaim 669:24 and Rama Yoreh Deah Siman 246:26)

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