A STROLL IN THE PARK - FIELD TRIPS DURING SUCCOT
It has become a fairly common practice for schools at all levels to either have vacation or have a relaxed schedule during Succot. Yeshivot traditionally allow this time of the year for their students to return home, and day schools that have the capacity to build their own Succot often fill the time with various events and programs. In both cases, seeking to take advantage of the "free time," many people spend a day during Chol HaMoed away on trips, sometimes in places where there are no Succot.
Our question today is whether or not such trips pose a halachic problem. On the one hand, many people solve the issue by only eating foods that can be eaten outside of the Succah. Sandwiches and cookies are abandoned, and fruits and vegetables become the rule. However, while this solution does seem to deal with the issue in a technical sense, there may be more of an issue involved. Is one allowed to put himself into a situation where he will not have a Succah available to him? While the full issue of one's relationship to the Succah has been dealt with inpast years' Chaburas, we will focus on it now in terms of this specific situation.
The Mishna on Succah 28b says that for the seven days of the holiday one is supposed to make his Succah permanent and his house temporary. The gemara goes on to explain that this means that a person should brings all of his nice utensils out of the house and into the Succah, and should do as many activities as possible in the Succah. However, the Succah is not meant to impose an unnecessary or extreme burden on a person. As such, there are cases when a person is exempt from being in the Succah due to extenuating circumstances. A groom, for example, is exempt from being in the Succah during the week of Sheva Berachot since it would diminish his happiness to some degree (since his entire wedding party could not fit inside). People who are employed in the guarding and protection of the city are exempt while they are on duty. Similarly, people who are engaged in the performance of a mitzva are exempt, since the mitzva that they are in the middle of doing overrules the mitzva of their having to be in the Succah (this is obviously a much larger topic).
The gemara on Succah 26a notes another case of people who are exempt from sitting in the Succah. It states that people who are travelling on the road during the day are not required to find a Succah while they are travelling, and those travelling at night do not need to find a Succah during that time. The gemara goes on to say that those who travel by day and by night do not need a Succah at all, and then concludes by saying that a person who is travelling to perform a mitzva does not need a Succah by day or by night.Rashi and others note that even if they only travel towards their mitzva by day, they are worried about it around the clock and thus are considered to be actively moving towards the mitzva when they stop to rest as well.
Rashi and Tosafot comment on why a person who is travelling would be exempt from sitting in the Succah. They revert back to the verse from whence the obligation to sit in the Succah is learned. Vayikra 23:42 says that a person should sit (teishvu) in the Succah for seven days, and the gemara learns out that this means that he should sit in the Succah in the manner in which he sits or lives in his house. Thus, since a person will leave his house at times to go on the road, the fact that he does so on Succot is no different, and thus he can be without a Succah for that stretch of time. Tosafot note that it is similar to the reasoning for a person who experiences discomfort while sitting in the Succah (mitzta'er). Such a person would be allowed to leave the Succah since had he experienced such problems within the confines of his home he would have moved to another room or taken some other measures to relieve his discomfort.
However, there is more than one type of travel that a person can do. A person who has to go on a business trip is not necessarily in the same boat as one who decides to use the holiday to go on a cross-country drive. From a halachic standpoint, is there any difference between these two cases? Does the reason that one is on the road without a Succah have any effect on their obligation to somehow locate a Succah?
Rashba deals with this issue in a responsum. He raises this very issue, wondering how a person can choose to avoid sitting in the Succah, simply because he wants to take a vacation. Sitting in the Succah is not merely an obligation when one eats, but is a round-the-clock commandment, and thus one cannot decide to avoid performing a mitzva without having a good reason to do so! However, Rashba (and the Orchot Chaim) comes up with what amounts to a post-facto solution. He claims that the comparison between living in the Succah and living in the house teaches us that a person is only obligated to sit in the Succah in a place where he would live. However, if a person is camping out in the woods or is travelling on the road, then the entire concept of living in the Succah does not apply in the first place. In other words, such a person is not avoiding the mitzva of Succah - there is no mitzva to speak of when he is on the road! The Orchot Chaim goes so far as to say that even if a person realizes that he will need to eat during the time that he is on the road, he does not have to change his travel plans and either stay home or try to find a Succah. The Levush notes further that a person who is travelling is not required to erect a Succah in a place where he is surrounded by non-Jews.
There is, however, some debate on this issue. The Biur Halacha (O.C. 640) notes that it is the view of Ramo and the Magen Avraham that a person who is travelling should try as hard as possible to be strict and to either find or put up a Succah, and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav codifies this as law. However, the Bigdei Yesha, the Chayei Adam, and Rav Yaakov Emden all follow the view of the Levush, noting that since putting up a Succah under such circumstances would not be similar to living at home (due to the amount of work involved), there is no obligation to do so.
All of this is fine and good for people who are travelling. However, what about people who go on day trips? Clearly, there is no obligatory nature to the trip, and it is just as simple to plan activities either in the Succah or in closer proximity to a Succah. Rav Ovadiah Yoseif (Yechaveh Da'at 3:47) reasons that any leniencies connected to a person who is travelling apply only to one who is travelling for some necessary purpose, such as for business reasons, which may even have some aspect of a mitzva connected to it. However, for a person to voluntarily place himself in a situation where he has no Succah is not permitted. Rav Yoseif brings a proof for this from the case of tzitzit. A person is only obligated to attach tzitzit to his garment if he is wearing a garment that has four corners. Thus, but never wearing such garments, a person can completely avoid having to perform this mitzva. However, the gemara in Menachot 41a brings a case where Rav Katina was chastised for intentionally avoiding the mitzva. Rav Yoseif notes that if someone was rebuked for avoiding a mitzva that was not incumbent on him to perform, certainly a person who avoids being in the Succah, which is incumbent on him throughout the seven days of the holiday, is acting incorrectly. Rav Moshe Feinstein concurs in this view (O.C. 3:93), that one should not take trips that would cause him to not be in the Succah.
Fortunately, Rav Yoseif provides an option. He writes that a person should refrain from taking day trips and instead spend his time learning Torah, citing the Yerushalmi (Moed Katan 2:3) which states that labor was forbidden on Chol HaMoed so that people could dedicate their time to Torah study. By doing so, one will earn the praise of Rabi Eliezer in Succah 27b, who praised those who did not leave their houses over Succot and took advantage of the opportunity to spend time with their families in the Succah.
Back toChabura-Net's Home Page