[Avodah] Sukka on Shmini Atzeres

Prof. L. Levine llevine at stevens.edu
Sun Sep 26 15:35:16 PDT 2021



As the sun sets on Hoshana Rabba, effectively ending the holiday of Sukkos, an annual machlokes dawns. As with much related to the Yomim Tovim, different minhagim come to the forefront this time of year. Not just the Sukkos-long variances as to the proper method of nanuim with the Lulav and Esrog, nor the correct order of the Ushpizin. Rather, this author is referring to sitting in the Sukka on Shmini Atzeres. Is it an obligation or recommendation? Prohibited or permitted? Why do some go to great lengths to make sure to eat or even sleep in the Sukka on this day, while others will make due with a simple Kiddush or even less? This article sets out to address this annual Sukkos “battle”.

See the above URL for a detailed discussion of this and related issues.

>From the article

To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

It is well known that the Vilna Gaon[21]<https://ohr.edu/5269#_edn21> was very makpid not only to eat but also to sleep in the Sukka on Shmini Atzeres. The Chayei Adam relates that the Gr”a once made the whole yeshiva sleep in the Sukka on a freezing Shmini Atzeres night, just to show the rest of the city the importance of following this halacha. Several authorities[22]<https://ohr.edu/5269#_edn22> rule like the Gr”a, saying that one must sleep in the Sukka on Shmini Atzeres, maintaining that there should not be a halachic difference between eating and sleeping in the Sukka.

However, most authorities do not agree with this reasoning and maintain that although one must eat in the Sukka on Shmini Atzeres, nevertheless, one does not (and some say nor should not) sleep in the Sukka.[23]<https://ohr.edu/5269#_edn23> The Chasam Sofer famously did not sleep in the Sukka on Shmini Atzeres.[24]<https://ohr.edu/5269#_edn24> This is also the conclusion of the Mishnah Berurah,[25]<https://ohr.edu/5269#_edn25> who states that the “Minhag HaOlam” is not to sleep in the Sukka on Shmini Atzeres. However, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, who also acknowledges that the Minhag HaOlam is not to sleep in the Sukka, nevertheless concludes that it is still proper to do so anyway.

Surprisingly, and although not the common practice, it is known that the Gadol HaDor Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, was extremely makpid on sleeping in the Sukka, even when it was freezing outside and even on Shmini Atzeres. He explained that his father, Rav Dovid zt”l, was particularly vigilant with sleeping in the Sukka and in what was to be the last year of his life, caught pneumonia from doing so one freezing Shmini Atzeres, and passed away six days later. Rav Moshe related that he learned from this tragedy the lengths of Mesiras Nefesh required of himself to sleep in a Sukka, and even on Shmini Atzeres.

I was not aware that it was Rav Moshe Feinstein's practice to sleep in the Succah on Shemini Atzeres.


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