Daf 28a-b

  • Rav Michael Siev


Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev

Sukka 16 - Daf 28a-b

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Last week, we learned the mishna on 28a. The end of the mishna teaches that women, slaves and minors are exempt from the mitzva of sukka. The gemara now examines the sources for these exemptions.

Gemara: From where are these words (=what is the source)?

For the Rabbis taught: "native" - this (refers to a) native. "The native" - to exclude women. "All" - to include minors.

The master said: "The native" to exclude women; is that to say that "native" implies women and men?

But we learned in a baraita: "The native" to include native women that they are obligated in affliction;

thus, "native" implies (only) men!

Rabba said: It is a tradition and the rabbis leaned it on verses.

 Which is a verse and which is a tradition?

And also, why do I (need) the verse and why do I (need) the tradition? Sukka is a positive commandment that time causes, and all positive commandments that time causes women are exempt (from)!

Yom Kippur - from Rav Yehuda in the name of Rav it comes out (=we learn it), for Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav, and also the house of R. Yishmael taught:

The verse says "man or woman" -

the Torah equated woman to man for all punishments in the Torah.  

גמ' מה"מ (=מנא הני מילי)?

דת"ר (=דתנו רבנן): אזרח - זה אזרח (ויקרא כג), האזרח - להוציא את הנשים. כל - לרבות את הקטנים.

אמר מר: האזרח - להוציא את הנשים. למימרא דאזרח בין נשים בין גברי משמע?

והתניא: האזרח לרבות את הנשים האזרחיות שחייבות בעינוי,

אלמא אזרח גברי משמע!

אמר רבה: הלכתא נינהו, ואסמכינהו רבנן אקראי.

הי קרא והי הלכתא?

ותו, קרא למה לי, הלכתא למה לי? הא סוכה מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא, וכל מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא נשים פטורות!

יום הכפורים - מדרב יהודה אמר רב נפקא, דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב, וכן תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל:

אמר קרא (במדבר ה) איש או אשה -

השוה הכתוב אשה לאיש לכל עונשין שבתורה.  

Let's stop here for a moment, though we are in the middle of a discussion. The gemara questions how we know that women are not obligated in the mitzva of sukka. The gemara quotes a baraita that explains that the word ha-ezrach, "the native," is the source of the halakha. The Torah writes that "all the native(s) in Israel should dwell in sukkot" (Vayikra 23:42). The gemara here assumes that "native" includes both men and women. But the word as it is written in the Torah does not say "native," but rather "the native." This definite article comes to qualify the general term "native;" only a certain type of native is obligated - namely, men. The baraita then comments on the seemingly extraneous word "all." It must be that this word comes to teach us something, for otherwise it would be unnecessary. The baraita explains that "all" comes to include a class of people not included by the word "native" - minors. (Hopefully, you have noticed that the last point contradicts the original ruling of our mishna that says that minors are not obligated in sukka; the gemara will address this issue later.)

To summarize, the baraita taught us two things based on the pasuk in Vayikra - that women are exempt from sukka and that children (i.e., male children) are obligated. The gemara now analyzes each of the baraita's statements.

First things first - the baraita's opening statement was that "the native" excludes women from the obligation of sukka. The gemara disputes that claim. Since it is only the definite article ("the") that excludes women, it is clear that the word "native" by itself refers both to men and women. This premise is challenged by a derasha that is made in a different context - that of affliction (fasting, not wearing leather shoes, etc.) on Yom Kippur. The Torah commands that "the native" and convert afflict themselves and refrain from melakha (the types of activities prohibited on Shabbat) on Yom Kippur (Vayikra 16: 29)). The baraita comments that the definite article in "the native" comes to include women in this obligation (presumably based on the simple fact that "the" is extra and must be adding something). Thus, we have the exact opposite derasha of that which we learned in our sugya; regarding Yom Kippur, "native" implies only men and "the" includes women, while in our sugya "native" was taken to imply both women and men and "the" excluded women!

The gemara admits that these two contradictory derashot cannot both be accurate. One of the derashot is based on the correct rendering of the phrase. The other is not a real derasha at all, but rather a law that the rabbis knew from the oral tradition dating back to Moshe Rabbenu. They merely "leaned it" on a pasuk in order to make it easier to remember.

This does not satisfy the gemara, which has two questions:

1) A factual question - which of the two derashot is real and which is a cover for the halakha le-Moshe mi-sinai (law passed down in oral tradition from Moses, who heard it from God Himself)?

2) A challenge - both the derasha and the halakha le-Moshe mi-sinai are unnecessary; both of the laws under discussion could have been learned from other rules! We should know that women are exempt from sukka based on the principle of mitzvat aseh she-hazman gerama, that women are normally exempt from time-bound positive commandments (such as tefillin, which can be fulfilled during the day but not at night, or sukka, which can only be fulfilled on Sukkot!). And we should also know that women are obligated in "affliction" on Yom Kippur based on the rule that any law that carries with it a punishment applies equally to men and women.

The gemara now seeks to answer these two questions. We are on the second line of 28b.

Abaye said: Really, sukka is the tradition, and it is necessary:

You could have thought to say "dwell as you live" - just as living is man and wife, even sukka is man and wife. It teaches us.

Rava said: it is necessary: You could have thought to say learn "fifteen" "fifteen" from Pesach.

Just as there women are obligated - even here women are obligated. It teaches us.

And now that you have said sukka is a tradition, why do I have the verse?

To include converts.


You could have thought to say: "The native in Israel," said the Merciful One, and not the converts. It teaches us.

Yom Kippur from Rav Yehuda in the name of Rav it comes out (we learn it)!

It is needed only for additional affliction.

You could have thought to say: since the Merciful One excluded 'additional affliction' from punishment and warning, women are not obligated at all;

it teaches us.

אמר אביי: לעולם סוכה הלכתא, ואיצטריך:

סלקא דעתך אמינא תשבו כעין תדורו, מה דירה - איש ואשתו, אף סוכה - איש ואשתו, קמשמע לן.

רבא אמר: איצטריך, סלקא דעתך אמינא יליף חמישה עשר, חמשה עשר מחג המצות.

מה להלן נשים חייבות - אף כאן נשים חייבות, קמשמע לן.

והשתא דאמרת סוכה הלכתא, קרא למה לי?

לרבות את הגרים.

סלקא דעתך אמינא: (ויקרא כג) האזרח בישראל אמר רחמנא ולא את הגרים. קמשמע לן.

יום הכפורים מדרב יהודה אמר רב נפקא!

לא נצרכא אלא לתוספת עינוי.

סלקא דעתך אמינא: הואיל ומיעט רחמנא לתוספת עינוי מעונש ומאזהרה, לא נתחייבו נשים כלל,

קמשמע לן.   

Abaye claims that the exemption of women from sukka is the halakha le-Moshe mi-sinai; the derasha in the context of Yom Kippur is based on the proper understanding of the verse. Regarding the question of why such a tradition is necessary in light of the general principle that women are exempt from time-bound positive commandments, Abaye explains that one might have thought that this principle is not operative when it comes to sukka. We have discussed in past shiurim the obligation of teshvu ke-ein taduru, that we are to dwell in sukkot the way we live in our homes. At home, families live together. One may have thought that this should be the case with regard to sukka as well. The halakha le-Moshe mi-sinai is therefore necessary to teach us that women are in fact exempt from sukka.

Rava offers another reason why the oral tradition is necessary to teach us that women are exempt from sukka. (The fact that he moves right to this issue implies that he agrees with Abaye that it is sukka, and not affliction on Yom Kippur, that we learn from the oral tradition.) We learned on daf 27a that there is a gezera shava comparing Pesach and Sukkot, based on the fact that the Torah uses the same term ("fifteen," because each is the 15th of the month) to describe each of them. Based on that gezera shava we learned that it is obligatory to eat in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot, just as one must eat matza on the first night of Pesach. Rava suggests that one may have thought to extend this comparison to women's obligation; women are obligated in the mitzva of matza on Pesach despite the fact that it is a time-bound positive commandment, and one might have thought that the same is therefore true of the mitzva of sukka. The oral tradition is therefore needed to make it clear that women are exempt.

At this point, it is clear that "the native" does not come to teach us anything about the exemption of women from sukka, which we learn from oral tradition. What, then, does that term really teach us? The gemara answers that "native" could have been interpreted as including only people born into the Jewish community and not converts. The extra "the" (or perhaps the following phrase, "in Israel") teaches that converts are also included in the mitzva of sukka.

Finally, the gemara returns to the other half of the challenge question it asked earlier. Why does the baraita have to learn from a derasha that women are included in the mitzva of "affliction" on Yom Kippur if we have a general rule that mitzvot that carry with them a specific punishment apply equally to men and women? The gemara concedes that we know that women are obligated in "affliction" even without the derasha. The purpose of the derasha is to include women in the ancillary obligation of "additional affliction" (tosefet inui). Based on the way the Torah phrases the obligation of "affliction" on Yom Kippur, we learn that one must begin the "affliction" before the actual onset of Yom Kippur. This is known as tosefet inui. Although this addition is obligatory, one who neglects this obligation is not subject to the karet punishment that applies to one who, say, eats on Yom Kippur. Since the whole reason we know that women are obligated to "afflict" themselves on Yom Kippur is based on the punishment, it would have been reasonable to assume that they are not obligated in the secondary law, to which the punishment is not attached. The derasha is necessary to teach us that women are obligated even in tosefet inui.

At the end of the day, the gemara explained that one might have thought that the word "the native" (ha-ezrach) excludes converts from the mitzva of sukka, and we therefore have a special derasha to teach us that converts are also included in the mitzva. One may ask a simple question - why did the Torah have to use the word ha-ezrach if that could lead to the mistaken impression that converts are not included in the mitzva? Why seemingly exclude them with the word "native," only to include them with a special derasha? Couldn't the Torah have found a different word to use?

The Kli Yakar (Vayikra 23:42) explains that the word ha-ezrach reflects one of the central themes of the mitzva of sukka. Sukkot is described by the Torah as the "Festival of Gathering" because it is at the time of year when farmers gather the produce that they have harvested over the summer. At this time, when the storehouses are full, there is a danger of people becoming overconfident and forgetting that whatever they have is a blessing from above. People prefer to view themselves as an ezrach, a permanent resident, a native, whose rights and stability are permanently assured. The mitzva of sukka takes us out of our permanent home and makes us live in a temporary dwelling to remind us that in truth, we are naturally vulnerable - the work of our own hands is no more permanent and stable than the flimsy sukka. It is God who protects us and provides for us, as He did when we lived in "sukkot" in the desert, when it was absolutely clear that we survived only due to His protection. (See Vayikra 23:43, which explicitly states that sukka reminds us of God's protection in the desert.)  

Interestingly, this homiletical interpretation may actually have a halakhic manifestation. The Ramban (quoted by the Ritva on our sugya) claims that we learn from the word ha-ezrach that only one who is in a state of comfort and of relative permanence is obligated in the mitzva of sukka. This, he claims, may be the basis for some of the exemptions from sukka, such as the exemption of a traveler. Taken in context of what we said above, it makes perfect sense - only someone who is in his home environment is in need of being reminded that his home is not the real source of his security.