Daf 25b

  • Rav Michael Siev


Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev

Sukka 06 - daf 25b

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(You can find a scan with larger print by going to the e-daf.com homepage and selecting sukah 25b)

Key words and phrases in Hebrew and Aramaic are marked in blue, and their translation or explanation can be seen by placing the cursor over them. 

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Within the quoted texts, my explanations and additions are also noted in red.

Last week, our gemara quoted two statements of Rabbi Abba bar Zavda in the name of Rav that had to do with a mourner's obligation in mitzvot generally and the mitzva of sukka in particular.  The gemara now proceeds to discuss yet another statement that Rabbi Abba bar Zavda made in the name of Rav, which relates to the mitzva of sukka - and to concepts that we have discussed in previous shiurim. (It is common for the gemara to cite statements made by someone previously quoted in the gemara, even if they are not directly related to the topic at hand.)

We begin the gemara about two thirds of the way down on 25b, second word on the line. (You know already: we will provide a basically literal translation here and a more explanatory commentary will follow.) 


And Rabbi Abba bar Zavda said in the name of Rav:

a groom and his groomsmen and all members of the wedding party are exempt from sukka all seven.

What is the reason? Because they must rejoice.

And let them eat in the sukka and rejoice in the sukka!

There is no rejoicing but in the chuppa.


And let them eat in the sukka and rejoice in the chuppa!

There is no rejoicing but in the place of the meal.

And let them make a chuppa in the sukka!


Abbayei said: "Because of seclusion," but Rava said: "Because of discomfort to the groom. "

What is the difference between them?  There is between them when people commonly leave and ascend to there.

To the one who said because of seclusion, there is none; to the one who said because of discomfort of the groom, there is.

Rabbi Zeira said: I ate in the sukka and rejoiced in the chuppa and how much more so did my heart rejoice, for I did two (mitzvot).

וא"ר (ואמר רבי) אבא בר זבדא אמר רב:

חתן והשושבינין וכל בני החופה פטורין מן הסוכה כל שבעה.

מאי טעמא? משום דבעו למיחדי.

וליכלו בסוכה, וליחדו בסוכה!

אין שמחה אלא בחופה.

וליכלו בסוכה, וליחדו בחופה!

אין שמחה אלא במקום סעודה.

וליעבדו חופה בסוכה!

אביי אמר: משום ייחוד. ורבא אמר: משום צער חתן.

מאי בינייהו? איכא בינייהו: דשכיחי אינשי דנפקי ועיילי להתם.

למאן דאמר משום ייחוד - ליכא. למאן דאמר משום צער חתן - איכא.

אמר רבי זירא: אנא אכלי בסוכה וחדי בחופה, וכל שכן דחדי ליבאי, דקא עבידנא תרתי.   

The gemara here, as on the previous amud, discusses halakhot relating to a groom.  In this instance, we are not dealing with a groom on the day of his wedding (it is not permitted to get married on Sukkot) or even on the night after his wedding.  The issue at hand is the status of the groom and those rejoicing with him "all seven" - on the seven days of rejoicing that follow a wedding (known as Sheva Berakhot).  Thus, if one gets married shortly before Sukkot, he is exempt from sukka until the end of the seven days of rejoicing.

Two more points of introduction before we go through the gemara step by step:

1) The whole discussion here focuses on the groom.  The bride is not discussed because women are never obligated to fulfill the mitzva of sukka.

2) The chuppa referred to in our gemara is not the actual marriage canopy under which the wedding ceremony takes place but rather the main place of residence of the bride and groom during the seven days of rejoicing.  It was customary for the couple to eat their meals and to celebrate in their place of residence, accompanied by friends and family.

The gemara states that according to Rav, the groom and anyone involved in the post-wedding celebrations are exempt from the mitzva of sukka.  The reason for this exemption is that they need to rejoice, and full celebration is possible only in the context of festive meals eaten in the chuppa.  The gemara asks the obvious question: let them establish their residence in the sukka, which would enable them to fully rejoice while fulfilling the mitzva of sukka!  Two answers are suggested:

1) Abbayei - because of seclusion (yichud). Yichud is a general prohibition that forbids a man and woman (who are not immediately related) from being alone together in a secluded place. The prohibition is designed to preclude the possibility of inappropriate behavior by not letting a tempting situation arise in the first place.  How would a newly married couple's establishing their residence in a sukka lead to the prohibition of yichud?  Let us turn to Rashi.  His explanation for Abbayei's reasoning is found on the sixth to last line of 25b (s.v. Mishum yichud).

They would generally build sukkot on their roofs and it is not common for masses to constantly be going and coming from there because of the difficulty (in ascending to the roof).  Furthermore, the groom may descend in order to attend to his needs and another (man) will be secluded with the bride.

In order to make sure that such a situation will not arise, they did not make chuppot in sukkot, and it was therefore impossible for the new couple and their entourage to properly rejoice in a sukka.  We should note that the Abbayei's concern is not that the new bride will actually engage in inappropriate activity with another man; yichud is forbidden regardless of whether or not anything untoward ends up happening.

2) Rava - because of the groom's discomfort.  Let us turn to Rashi yet again, to understand what kind of discomfort the groom may have if he resides in the sukka during the first week of marriage.  The relevant comment is four lines from the end of the page (s.v. Tza'ar chatan).

For the place is narrow and open, as it has only three walls, and he is embarrassed to be playful with his bride.

Rashi seems to mention two separate factors that contribute to the discomfort.  Firstly, the place is narrow.  Sukkot are usually not as big or as comfortable as houses, and the groom's discomfort will not allow him to fully rejoice during his Sheva Berakhot.  Additionally, sukkot need not be totally enclosed (and one gets the impression that in earlier times they generally were not).  The openness of the sukka will prevent the groom from playfully rejoicing with his bride, which he would be embarrassed to do in a more open setting. Since they cannot fully rejoice in the sukka, they are permitted to establish their chuppa elsewhere.

It is possible that each of the the two separate causes of discomfort apply to two different types of sukkot.  A sukka that is totally enclosed may feel a bit cramped; a sukka that is not totally enclosed may provide a more open and airy setting, but the couple would feel uncomfortable acting totally familiar with each other.

Having accepted both Abbayei's and Rava's answers, the gemara now questions if there is any practical difference between the two or if they are simply alternate answers to one question.  The gemara answers that there could be a situation in which Abbayei's concern does not apply, but Rava's does. If the sukka is built in a place that is frequently visited, there is no concern of yichud.  Rava's concern about the couple feeling constrained still does apply, and according to his reasoning we would still exempt the groom from the mitzva of sukka.

Our whole discussion has centered on whether or not the couple can fully rejoice in the sukka. It is taken for granted that if they cannot do so, the need for them to rejoice will suspend the obligation to dwell in a sukka for the people involved in the celebrations. Why should this be the case?

Think back to concepts we have discussed in previous shiurim!

One possible explanation of the groom's (and his friends') exemption from the mitzva of sukka brings us back to a topic with which we are very familiar by now: ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva.  Since the groom and his guests are involved in the mitzva of simchat chatan ve-khala, rejoicing with a bride and groom, they are exempt from performing other mitzvot, such as the mitzva of sukka.  According to this approach, the members of the wedding party should be exempt not only from the mitzva of sukka but from any mitzva that takes away from this first mitzva (we will return to this in our next shiur).

Obviously, this approach assumes that the celebrations of the week of Sheva Berakhot are indeed a mitzva, such that involvement with them can exempt one from other mitzvot. The status of these celebrations is actually the subject of much debate.  Some commentators seem to assume that even the rejoicing during Sheva Berakhot is a mitzva de-oraita, a mitzva of Biblical status.  If so, it is readily understandable why the ha-osek be-mitzva principle should apply.  However, others claim that the celebrations are at best a rabbinically-ordained mitzva (mitzva de-rabbanan); if this is the case, it is not clear that the celebrations should be enough to exempt the celebrants from other mitzvot.  (Perhaps it depends on the nature of the exemption of ha-osek be-mitzva, which we discussed in an earlier shiur.  If one is patur because of the triage factor, it makes sense to fulfill the mitzva de-oraita over the mitzva de-rabbanan, even if one had already started the mitzva de-rabbanan; if, however, one is patur because mitzvot only apply when one is not yet engaged in divine service, there is room to say that the performance of mitzvot de-rabbanan is also considered divine service, and the obligation to perform other mitzvot does not get off the ground.)

Some authorities argue that celebrating with a new couple during Sheva Berakhot, while a nice thing to do, is not technically an official mitzva at all, rabbinical or otherwise.  If this is the case, ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva is clearly not the reason that the celebrants are exempt from sukka, as they are not yet actively performing any mitzva!

The Ran (Rabbeinu Nissim, 14th century Spain) accepts this argument, and suggests a different reason for the exemption: if the groom and his friends were to celebrate in a sukka, which would curtail their celebrations, the attendant frustration at not being able to fully rejoice would render them mitzta'arim.  We have already briefly discussed the concept of mitzta'er, that one who is uncomfortable in the sukka (e.g. cold, hot, etc.) is permitted to eat and sleep in his house.  The concept of mitzta'er itself is a well-established principle. The chiddush (novel point) of the Ran's ruling is that the inability to rejoice as freely in the sukka as in a house is enough to classify one as mitzta'er.

Let us return to the end of the gemara. After presenting and analyzing the reasons that a groom and company may be exempt from sukka, Rabbi Zeira is quoted as stating that he himself did not take advantage of the exemption but rather ate in the sukka and rejoiced in the chuppa. The gemara earlier stated that we do not require one to do this because the full rejoicing is only when one has a) a festive meal b) in the chuppa. Rabbi Zeira explains that he had a full measure of happiness with his arrangement, because he was able to accomplish both of his goals: to rejoice and also to fulfill the mitzva of sukka

It would be beneficial for us to consider Rabbi Zeira's comment in the context of the two reasons we gave for the groom's exemption from sukka. One suggestion was ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva. If this is the reason for the exemption, Rabbi Zeira seems to be saying that he was able to fulfill the second mitzva without detracting from the first. As we have seen, if it is possible to fulfill both mitzvot, one should do so. (According to Tosafot, one must do so, as the exemption of ha-osek be-mitzva does not apply in such a situation. According to the Ran, the exemption still applies, but it is appropriate to perform the second mitzva as well, despite the exemption.)  

If the reason for the exemption is mitzta'er, Rabbi Zeira's comment should be viewed in another light. Some cases of mitzta'er are subjective, depending upon the person's tolerance for various undesired conditions. That being the case, one's mindset can definitely be a factor in determining one's status as a mitzta'er. Often, if one is excited about engaging in a certain activity, one does not even notice some adverse elements that he is exposed to in the course of that activity. Rabbi Zeira was so committed to the mitzva of sukka that its fulfillment could not possibly have detracted from his celebration; on the contrary, it added to it: "How much more so did my heart rejoice, for I did two [mitzvot]."