Monday, October 20, 2008

Shemini Atzeres and the Sukkah

Once, the disciples of the Yehudi Hakadosh, zt”l, (who had himself been a disciple of the Chozeh of Lublin, zt”l) and the followers of the Chozeh of Lublin engaged in a similar dispute. The clear practice of the Chozeh of Lublin was to return inside his house on Shemini Atzeres, and so his students felt justified in doing the same. The Yehudi Hakadosh, on the other hand, always ate in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, but his practice was open to different interpretations. Because the Yehudi Hakadosh took his meals in an enclosed porch all year long which served as his sukkah during the holiday after the roof was removed, it could not be said with great certainty whether he really meant to eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, or was simply eating in the room of the house where he normally ate.
The students of the Chozeh were indignant that the Yehudi meant to eat in the sukkah and was departing from his own, and their, Rebbe’s custom, while the Yehudi’s own followers maintained that he meant to eat in the house, and did not disagree with his own Rebbe at all. But the Chozeh’s students pursued the conflict and reasoned, “If he really wanted to ‘return to the house’ he should have ordered the roof closed!”
Rav Chaim Meir Yechiel Shapira of Mogelnitz, zt”l, once commented on this particular machlokes: “Whatever they do has a halachic basis, so the main thing in such an instance is to avoid the fruitless arguing that leads to sin’as chinam!”
The Vilna Gaon, zt”l, held that the gemara is conclusive regarding dwelling (and sleeping) in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres. Once, it turned bitterly cold on Shemini Atzeres, but the Gaon insisted on proper fulfillment of the halachah.
He said, “Although it is extremely cold and we are not obligated to sleep in the sukkah, let us bundle up really well to make sure that we will not feel discomfort so that we can sleep there anyway. That way, we will provide a living example that one is also obligated to sleep in the sukkah in chutz la’aretz on Shemini Atzeres!”

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