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    Sitting in the shule sukkah – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Can I fulfil the obligation of sitting in the sukkah by sitting in a sukkah that belongs to the synagogue?

    Sukkah meal, by Bernard Picart, 1722

    A. In the Talmud (Suk. 27b), Rabbi Eliezer says that just as I must have my own lulav and the three accompanying species (the Torah says in Lev. 23:40 that the lulav etc. must be lachem, “for yourself” or “yours”), so the sukkah must be yours (l’cha: Deut. 16:13).

    The sages do not agree with this view. They accept that the lulav must be yours on the first day of the festival and if you use someone else’s they must give it to you at that point, the sukkah need not be your personal property since the Torah states, “All citizens amongst Israel shall dwell in sukkot” (Lev. 23:42) – i.e. in theory all Israelites share a sukkah.

    Although they cannot fit in to the one sukkah at the same time, they can – again theoretically – enter one after the other.

    If this is so, what do we do with the word l’cha in relation to the sukkah? We use it to exclude a stolen sukkah.

    Maimonides follows this view (Hilchot Sukkah 5:25) as does the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayyim 637:2).

    Though not all authorities concur with this ruling, a sukkah held in partnership belongs to all the partners and hence the members of a synagogue can say that the shule sukkah belongs to them all.

    This argument is one of many good reasons to ensure that every Jew is a synagogue member.

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