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    A borrowed sukkah – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. If a person doesn’t have their own sukkah, can you use someone else’s?

    Decorating a sukkah at a US Air Force base, 1952

    A. You get much more pleasure out of your own sukkah, but it is not always possible, for example if you live in an apartment without a balcony.

    But if your only possibility is to use a shule sukkah or someone else’s that you have permission to use, then there is no halachic problem. (The Book of Nehemiah knew of sukkot in various public places including “the courts of the house of God” (8:16).)

    The Talmud (Sukkah 27b) has a pertinent discussion about a borrowed sukkah.

    Rabbi Eliezer says that one does not fulfil the mitzvah with a borrowed sukkah; it is written (Deut. 16:13), “You shall make the festival of Sukkot for yourself (l’cha)“; hence the sukkah must be your own.

    The sages, however, quote a different verse (Lev. 23:42), “All the citizens of Israel shall dwell in sukkot” – i.e. “All Jews may sit in one sukkah”; Rashi says this is possible if all Jews enter one after the other.

    What do the sages do with the word l’cha? They say this excludes a stolen sukkah.

    Subsequent authorities discuss the issue of a sukkah which belongs to a partnership.

    The Rivash regards a partnership sukkah as better than a borrowed one since all the partners own the sukkah and are entitled to use it (T’shuvot Rivash 347). Thus, since members of a synagogue are partners in the synagogue and its property, they may use its sukkah without compunction.

    It should be added that the view that all Jews may sit in one sukkah indicates that the world will have become messianic when every member of the Jewish people, whatever their views, customs or disagreements, will happily sit together in one sukkah.

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