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Laws of building the Succah

Abstracted from Guidelines, by Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger and Rabbi Elozor Barclay

Building the Succah

1. When should one begin to build the succah?

  • According to most opinions, one should begin on the day after Yom Kippur. It is praiseworthy to make a small start on motzai Yom Kippur in order to go immediately from one mitzvah to another. If this will not leave him sufficient time to complete the succah, he may begin to build before Yom Kippur, but he should not place the s’chach until after Yom Kippur.
  • According to some opinions, one should begin to build the succah before Yom Kippur, as an added merit.

2. When should one finish the construction?

  • Ideally, the succah should be completed on the day after Yom Kippur. However, if by doing so, the succah will not be built properly and sturdily, he should devote more time on the following days to erect a better and more beautiful succah.

3. May one build the succah on erev Shabbos or erev Yom Tov?

  • Yes, but one should stop building at mincha ketana.

4. May one build a succah on chol hamoed?

  • If a person did not build a succah before Yom Tov, or if he built one but it fell down, he may build one on chol hamoed. Preferably, skilled work should be avoided and the succah should be a simple construction. If necessary, even skilled work is permitted.

5. Who should build the succah?

  • There is a mitzvah for every man to participate personally in the building, and whoever sweats over this task receives atonement for serious sins. However, women and children may assist with the building, and if necessary may build the entire structure. It is preferable not to ask a gentile to build the succah.

6. Who should place the s’chach?

  • Ideally, the s’chach should be placed by a Jewish man.

7. What if it was placed by a child?

  • Preferably, a small part of the s’chach should be raised and lowered by a Jewish man. The same applies if the s’chach was placed by a Jewish woman or a gentile.

8. May one build a succah anywhere?

  • A succah must be built under the sky. In most cases, nothing may intervene between the s’chach and the sky. For example, one must not build a succah under:

·          a roof (see also question ‎53),

·          an overhanging balcony,

·          a tree,

·          s’chach of another succah.

9. What if part of the succah is not under the sky?

  • If the section under the sky has sufficient walls and the minimum dimensions (see Chapter Two), the succah is kosher. Nevertheless, a man may only eat in the part of the succah that is under the sky. Sometimes, the invalid section may be included in calculating the size of the succah and a rav should be consulted.

10. May one build a succah near a tree if branches sway over the s’chach in the wind?

  • Yes. Preferably, one should chop off these branches if he has permission to do so. Nevertheless, the succah is still kosher even when branches sway over the s’chach.

11. May one build a succah underneath washing lines?

  • Yes. Since the lines are very narrow and there is space between them, they do not invalidate the succah. This is true even when laundry is hanging on the lines. If the laundry becomes entangled, it invalidates the s’chach beneath it and sometimes the entire succah.

12. May one build a succah in a public area?

·          In Eretz Yisroel, this is allowed since permission is granted to use the street for this purpose.

·          In chutz la’aretz, one should ideally avoid doing this unless specific permission is obtained from the authorities. However, the custom is to be lenient in this matter if no other area is available, especially if the succah is built close to the house.

13. May one build a succah in a communal yard?

  • Yes, since each tenant has a share in the yard. However, he should not build it in a place where it will be an obstruction or inconvenience to neighbors, without prior permission.

14. May one build a succah near garbage?

  • Yes, provided that no foul smell enters the succah.

15. May one build it near sewage pipes?

  • Yes, provided that the pipes are closed and no foul smell is emitted.

16. May one build a succah on soil?

  • Yes, but it is forbidden to sweep the floor on Shabbos or Yom Tov. It is therefore advisable to cover the soil with suitable flooring.

17. May one build a succah on grass?

  • It is preferable not to do so, unless the grass is covered with suitable flooring. This is because one might accidentally spill liquid on the grass, which should be avoided on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

18. Does the succah require a mezuzah?

  • No, since it is only a temporary dwelling.

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