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D15. Living in a Sukkah During the Feast of Sukkot.    [Make a Comment]

We are to live in a sukkah during the seven days of Sukkot.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scripture

Leviticus 23:42-43 (Maimonides RP168; Meir MP35; Chinuch C325)
You are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Isra'el is to live in a sukkah, so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Isra'el live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am ADONAI your God.

John 7:1-3
After this, Yeshua traveled around in the Galil, intentionally avoiding Y'hudah because the Judeans were out to kill him. But the festival of Sukkot in Y'hudah was near; so his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go into Y'hudah, so that your talmidim can see the miracles you do

Supportive Scripture

Nehemiah 8:14-17
They found written in the Torah that ADONAI had ordered through Moshe that the people of Isra'el were to live in sukkot during the feast of the seventh month; and that they were to announce and pass the word in all their cities and in Yerushalayim, "Go out to the mountains, and collect branches of olives, wild olives, myrtles, palms, and other leafy trees to make sukkot, as prescribed." So the people went out, brought them and made sukkot for themselves, each one on the roof of his house, also in their courtyards, in the courtyards of the house of God, in the open space by the Water Gate and in the open space by the Efrayim Gate. The entire community of those who had returned from the exile made sukkot and lived in the sukkot, for the people of Isra'el had not done this since the days of Yeshua the son of Nun. So there was very great joy.


The Leviticus Scripture referenced above commands that all citizens of Israel are to live in sukkot for the seven days of the Feast (of Sukkot), and it gives the reason - so that each generation of Israel will remember God's provision of shelter for us when He brought us out of Egypt. Although the expression "citizen of Isra'el" might be construed to mean only those Jews who live in the Land, the expression that follows it - "the people of Isra'el" - broadens its meaning to include all Jewish People, wherever in the world they may live. I believe it is also applicable to Gentiles who permanently live within the Jewish community (K'rovei Yisrael) because those whom God brought out of Egypt were a mixed multitude that consisted of both Jews and Gentiles (Exodus 12:38). That may be part of the explanation for why worshiping God on Sukkot is required of all the Gentile nations (Zechariah 14:16-19). Living in a sukkah during the Feast is not a requirement for Gentiles who are not K'rov Yisrael, but they may do so if they deem it meaningful.

The matter of how often one must physically occupy a sukkah during the seven days of the Feast, and what functions one must perform there in order that it be counted as "dwelling" is a matter of interpretation, especially in the Diaspora where climate and other considerations have to be considered. A minimum standard that is common among Diaspora Jews is to eat at least one meal each day in a sukkah.

John 7 references a Sukkot Feast that Yeshua attended, but there is no description of the sukkah in which He must have lived during the seven days. Nevertheless, the theme of Sukkot (which is living under God's provision and protection) is very much a New Covenant theme, with Yeshua, Ru'ach HaKodesh and the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures being the main New Covenant provisions.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides says relatively little in his mitzvah - merely that we are to live in a sukkah throughout the seven days of the Feast. Meir is much more detailed, adding that the sukkah must have a roof of branches, and that we must eat, drink, and otherwise live in it both day and night to the extent that one must not eat even one regular meal outside of it. HaChinuch expounds on the biblical reason for living in a sukkah, speaks a great deal about its structure, and is much more liberal than Meir in how much "living" one must do in it. He states, for example, that on the first night of Sukkot one must eat at least an olive's amount of bread in a sukkah and, after that, it is voluntary. HaChinuch also focuses on bread by stating that meals other than "regular meals of bread" may be eaten outside of a sukkah, but he adds that the early sages would not eat any meal outside of a sukkah during the Feast.


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