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Q&A

Why do we dwell in booths every day during Sukkot, but we don't have to eat matzah every day during Pesach?

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In the instructions for festivals, Vayikra 23:6 says, of Pesach:

You shall eat unleavened bread for seven days.

Devarim 16:3 is similar, and Devarim 16:8 starts: "After eating unleavened bread six days", which sure sounds like it's been a daily occurrence.

I have been taught that we are only required to eat matzah at the seder -- that this command phrased as a positive is otherwise understood to be "don't eat leavened bread all week".

Vayikra 23:42 says, of Sukkot:

You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths

Devarim 16, where it talks about Sukkot, doesn't repeat this part.

I have been taught that, weather and safety permitting, we are required to dwell (eat and sleep) in our sukkot all seven days, not just the first day.

What's the difference? Why does "dwell in booths" mean every day but "eat unleavened bread" doesn't? Why aren't we required to eat some matzah every day during Pesach?

(I've wondered about this before, but it jumped out at me again during the Sukkot torah reading and I remembered to come back and ask the question.)

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2 comment threads

IMSMC the Vilna Gaon equated the two in that there is a *mitzvah chiyuvith* (obligation) the first ni... (1 comment)
We originally didnt take lulav everyday either. (1 comment)

1 answer

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It is actually very much the same thing, at least ignoring the "sleep in Sukkah" part which most people don't do these days for a variety of reasons, especially outside of Israel.

Basically, with both Sukkah and Matzah the rule is:

  • First night - required. So we must eat in the Sukkah on the first night of Sukkos (and second night outside Israel) and we must eat Matzah on the first night of Pesach (and second night outside Israel).

  • Other nights - optional. If we eat any bread on Sukkos during the rest of the holiday, we must eat it in the Sukkah (weather permitting). If we eat any bread on Pesach during the rest of the holiday, we must eat only Matzah and not Chometz.

Both of these have very practical ramifications:

  • On Sukkos, if one does not have easy access to a Sukkah, they can avoid Halachic problems by not eating bread or large quantities of Mezonos (rice being OK).

  • On Pesach, if one has low tolerance for Matzah or does not have easy access to Matzah (hard to imagine these days, but machine-made inexpensive Matzah has not always been a thing), one can avoid Halachic problems by not eating bread or Mezonos (rice being OK for Sephardim but not Ashkenazim).

And of course there are those who make a point to eat Matzah every day of Pesach and to eat in the Sukkah every day of Sukkos. But the real requirement for both is the first day. There are a number of other connections as well - e.g., in both cases the Mitzvah only applies at night (defined as Tzeis Hacochavim = 3 stars), so Kiddush on the first night(s) of Pesach and Sukkos must be at Tzeis Hacochavim, where Rosh Hashanah and the last nights of Pesach can be earlier. (First night (but not 2nd) of Shavuos has to be after Tzeis Hacochavim because of the Omer and Shemini Atzeres has to be after Tzeis Hacochavim to avoid a question of making a Leishev Basukkah).

Lulav is a different thing altogether. It is really only first day, expanded later to the full week, Zecher Lemikdash (in memory of the temple), with the interesting twist that if Sukkos starts on Shabbos, we don't shake the Lulav on the first day and only the rest of the week.

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1 comment thread

Thanks - they're the same, but why is it one day and not all seven for both when the torah text seems clear? (2 comments)

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