Daf 26a

  • Rav Michael Siev


Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev

Sukka 08 - Daf 26a

A scan of the classic printed daf can be found at:


(You can find a scan with larger print by going to the e-daf.com homepage and selecting sukah 26a)

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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 It is highly recommended that you follow those instructions. I am working on a way to have your computer melt if you do not, but as of yet, the technical details are still beyond me.

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

Up to this point, our learning has focused primarily on the concept of ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva and related issues, and secondarily with the mitzva of sukka. At this point, the Gemara will initiate a smooth transition to issues related more directly to the halakhot of sukka. This process begins with a beraita that is related to the Gemara's previous discussion, due to the fact that it is partially based upon the issue of ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva. The first half of the beraita, however, is a halakha purely related to sukka, and the Gemara will follow up the beraita with discussions that center on hilkhot sukka and are similar to the one discussed in the first half of this beraita.

We are in the Gemara on 26a, 9 lines from the top.   

The rabbis taught:


Travelers (lit. those "walking on the ways") by day are exempt from sukka by day and obligated by night.

Travelers by night are exempt from sukka by night and obligated by day.

Travelers by day and night are exempt from sukka by day and by night.


Travelers for purposes of a mitzva are exempt both by day and by night.

Like that (incident) with Rav Chisda and Rabba bar bar Huna, when they would ascend on the Shabbat of the holiday to the house of the Exilarch, they would camp on the riverbank of Sura.

They said: we are messengers of a mitzva, and are exempt.

ת"ר (=תנו רבנן): 

הולכי דרכים ביום - פטורין מן הסוכה ביום, וחייבין בלילה.

הולכי דרכים בלילה - פטורין מן הסוכה בלילה, וחייבין ביום.

הולכי דרכים ביום ובלילה - פטורין מן הסוכה בין ביום ובין בלילה.

הולכין לדבר מצוה - פטורין בין ביום ובין בלילה.

כי הא דרב חסדא ורבה בר רב הונא, כי הוו עיילי בשבתא דרגלא לבי ריש גלותא - הוו גנו ארקתא דסורא.

אמרי: אנן שלוחי מצוה אנן, ופטורין. 

This beraita contains two distinct halves. The first half deals with average wayfarers while the second discusses one who travels for purposes of a mitzva. Let us analyze the cases one at a time.

The regular traveler is exempt from the mitzva of sukka while he travels, whether that is by day or night, but not at times when he is resting. What is the reason for the traveler's exemption from sukka? This is clearly not a general exemption from mitzvot, like the principle of ha-osek be-mitzva is; travelers are not exempt from prayer, tefillin or any other mitzva. This exemption must be specifically related to the mitzva of sukka. Let us look to Rashi for some explanation.

Rashi's comment is four lines from the top of the page, s.v. Holekhei derakhim.

"Traveleres by day are exempt from sukka by day"--as it says, "In sukkot you will dwell" (Vayikra 23:42) similar to the way one dwells in one's home. Just as all year he does not refrain from traveling on the way for business, similarly all the days of the holiday that are not Yom Tov, Scripture does not obligate him to refrain.

Rashi has explained the most central concept regarding the mitzva of living in a sukka (which we have briefly touched on before): "teishevu ke-ein taduru," that we are to dwell in our sukkot the way we live in our homes. This requirement defines one's obligation in the mitzva of sukka. Since one is obligated to view his sukka as his home, he may not do activities he normally does specifically at home, such as eating and sleeping, outside of the sukka. Teishevu ke-ein taduru also defines the limits of one's obligations. If one would leave one's home under certain circumstances, he may also leave his sukka. Thus, as we saw in an earlier shiur, if one is uncomfortable in the sukka to the point that he would leave his home under similar conditions and go to a more favorable environment, he is called a mitzta'er and may leave his sukka for the more comfortable confines of his home. Similarly, our beraita teaches that just as one would leave home in order to travel, it is permitted to leave one's sukka to embark on a similar trip.

If you look back at Rashi, you will note that he gives a specific example of a circumstance that commonly motivates people to travel--business. Posekim debate whether Rashi means to limit the exemption of travelers (holekhei derakhim) to people traveling for business or some other need, as opposed to people traveling for leisure. Rav Moshe Feinstein and others rule that people traveling for leisure are not exempt from the mitzva of sukka. Other authorities argue that there is no reason to differentiate between the cases. Any trip for which one would leave his home is enough to allow him to leave the sukka.

Let us move on now to the second half of the beraita. The ruling presented here stands in contrast to that which we saw in the first half. We learned that the business traveler may eat or sleep outside the sukka, but only while he is traveling. Once he arrives at a destination, even if it is just to stay the night, he must attempt to find a sukka. On the other hand, someone traveling for purposes of a mitzva is exempt from the mitzva of sukka even when he stops over to stay the night.

The Gemara quotes an incident to illustrate the principle just quoted. Rav Chisda and Rabba bar Rav Huna would visit the Exilarch (in Talmudic times, head of the quasi-autonomous Jewish community in Babylonia) for Shabbat of Pesach and Sukkot. When they would come, they would encamp on the riverbank even on Sukkot, despite the fact that there was no sukka available there. They explained that since they were traveling to fulfill a mitzva--visiting their teacher and learning Torah from him--they were exempt from other mitzvot, including sukka.

Think back to our previous discussions of ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva. What apparent difficulty might we have applying this principle to the case of our beraita?

Can you think of a resolution? (See Rashi!)

The point that distinguises the mitzva-traveler from the business traveler is that one on his way to perform a mitzva is exempt from sukka even when he stops over to stay the night, but at first glance, this additional exemption seems puzzling. We have learned that an osek be-mitzva is exempt only while actively engaged in the performance of a mitzva! When the mitzva-traveler stays over for the night, can he really be considered actively engaged in a mitzva?

Rashi (5th short line of 26a) explains:

Travelers for a mitzva are exempt by day and by night even though they only travel by day; because they are distracted and concerned with thoughts of the mitzva (they are traveling to perform) and its proper fulfillment, they are exempt from the mitzva (of sukka).

Rashi applies a sub-category of osek be-mitzva that we are already familiar with: if one is preoccupied by thoughts and preparations for a mitzva, one is considered an osek be-mitzva even if one is not yet doing any outward action to fulfill the mitzva. The prototype of this case is the chatan who is exempt from Keriat Shema on the night following his wedding, as we have discussed in previous shiurim. In this case, even when the travelers stay the night they are considered osekim be-mitzva because they continue to plan and think about their mission.

On a practical note, posekim explain that if there is a sukka that is readily available to the mitzva-travelers, they should make use of it. Nonetheless, if they will not be comfortable in the sukka and will therefore not get a good night's sleep and will not be able to perform their mitzva properly in the morning, they need not sleep even in a readily available sukka.

Back to the Gemara

 We continue with another beraita quoted by the Gemara, about a third of the way down on 26a, at the very end of the line.

The rabbis taught: 


Those guarding the city by day are exempt from sukka by day and are obligated by night.

Those guarding the city by night are exempt from sukka by night and obligated by day.


Those guarding the city by day and by night are exempt from the sukka by day and by night.

Guards of gardens and orchards are exempt by day and by night.


And let them make a sukka there and sit!

Abbayei said: "You shall dwell as you live."

Rava said: "The gap calls to the thief."


What is between them? There is between them if one watches a pile of fruit.

ת"ר (=תנו רבנן):

שומרי העיר ביום - פטורין מן הסוכה ביום, וחייבין בלילה.

שומרי העיר בלילה - פטורין מן הסוכה בלילה, וחייבין ביום.

שומרי העיר בין ביום ובין בלילה - פטורין מן הסוכה בין ביום ובין בלילה.

שומרי גנות ופרדסים - פטורין בין ביום ובין בלילה.

וליעבדי סוכה התם וליתבו!

אביי אמר: תשבו כעין תדורו.

רבא אמר: פרצה קוראה לגנב.

מאי בינייהו? איכא בינייהו דקא מנטר כריא דפירי.  

This beraita also deals with two cases, though here the outcome of both cases is the same: a person who is on guard duty is exempt from sukka. The first case pertains to those guarding a city. Since the dispensation is expressed in broad terms, it presumably applies even when there is no clear and present danger to the lives of the town residents. It is thus clear that the exemption is not because of the general leniency with regard to mitzvot in situations of mortal danger (pikuach nefesh), but is rather based on teishevu ke-ein taduru. Since one would leave one's home to patrol the city, and would not leave his assignment and return home to eat, he may eat outside of his "home" (the sukka) even on Sukkot. Of course, this dispensation applies only while he is on duty, whether by day or by night.

The beraita then moves on to a similar case: security guards protecting gardens or orchards. Since fields and orchards tended to be outside of the towns, people would be hired to guard the fields and their produce full-time. The guards would actually stay there day and night for a week or even a month or more. It is thus not surprising that there is no difference between day and night, as these guards are on-duty both day and night.

The Gemara questions the very basis of this exemption, however. Why can the guards not simply construct sukkot out in the fields? In fact, if these guards stay out of town for such extended periods of time, why not consider the field their regular place of residence, such that they would be obligated to build a sukka there just as if they lived regularly in the town?

The Gemara provides two answers to this question. Abbayei explains that the dispensation is based on teishevu ke-ein taduru. How does this answer our question? Why is teishevu ke-ein taduru relevant here? As always, let us look first to Rashi to help us understand the Gemara. This Rashi (s.v. Ke-ein taduru) can be found about 1/4 of the way down on 26a.

"The way you live"--the way he lives the whole year in his house is how the Torah required him to leave his residence and dwell here in the sukka, with his beds and utensils and mattresses. However, this one (the guard) cannot bring them there because of the toil.

According to Rashi, Abbayei teaches us a great extension of the principle of tesvhu k'ein taduru. We already know that teshvu k'ein taduru can limit the obligation of sukka; one is only obligated to live in one's sukka at times and under conditions that one would live in one's home. We also know that it defines what one is supposed to do in one's sukka: namely, the activities normally done at home. Additionally, we will learn on 28b that teishevu ke-ein taduru defines not only when we should live in our sukka but also how we should live there: with our nice dishes, furniture, etc., as though we were really at home. Abbayei adds that this last point, regarding how one lives in one's sukka, is so fundamental that one who does not replicate in his sukka the rooted and comfortable lifestyle of his home is not in fulfillment of the mitzva of sukka at all. Since the guard cannot possibly fulfill the mitzva, due to the strict requirements of teishevu ke-ein taduru, he is exempt.

Rava does not subscribe to Abbayei's view. Presumably, he can reject Abbayei's explanation for one of two reasons:

1) In his view, it is a fulfillment of teishevu ke-ein taduru if one lives in one's sukka even without all of his furniture. This is especially reasonable in light of the premise for our question, which is that the field should be considered like the guard's place of residence. Since the guard lives there regularly without all the comforts of a regular home, his standard of ke-ein taduru is lower than the standard applicable to most, and he achieves that standard even without beds and mattresses. 

2) Rava agrees that teishevu ke-ein taduru requires the guard to bring his furniture to his sukka, but he argues that falling short of this aspect of teishevu ke-ein taduru does not totally exempt him from this mitzva.

Instead, Rava presents his own answer: "The gap calls to the thief." This is an idiom which expresses the thought that if there is an obvious security weakness, thieves will notice and exploit that weakness. In this case, if the guard is compelled to dwell in a clearly visible sukka, potential thieves will know where he is, and will simply infiltrate the field from a different direction. This answer also presumably hinges on teishevu ke-ein taduru, but a more standard application of that principle. One is prepared to leave the comfort of one's home in order to ensure that he does not suffer monetary loss. Similarly, the guard may stay outside a sukka in order to prevent monetary loss.

The Gemara explains how the answers of Abbayei and Rava can lead to different practical rulings. In the case of a person guarding a single pile of fruit out in the field, Rava's concern does not apply; even from the vantage point of his sukka, the guard can keep watch on the entire pile of fruit. Thus, the guard should have to construct a sukka there in the field. Abbayei's answer still does apply, due to the impossibility of transporting all of one's household items to the field.