Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the bracha "la'asos sukkah lishmo" on building a neighbor's sukkah

The Yerushalmi writes that if you make a sukkah for a neighbor you should recite a bracha “la’ason sukkah lishmo”. We don’t find such a bracha in the Bavli, and it seems odd – why the need for a special bracha when ding a mitzvah for someone else? Tosfos (46a) references this Yerushalmi and apparently this idea caused the Maharasha discmofort as well because he changes the girsa to “la'asos sukkah lishma”, and suggests the Yerushalmi holds like Tanaim who hold sukkah must be built lishma.

I think the Yerushalmi can be understood k’pshuto. If you build a sukkah for yourself, the bracha is on the kiyum mitzvah of sukkah (please let's not go down the road of whether it is a hechsher mitzvah or not). But if you build for someone else you are not being mekayeim the mitzvah of sukkah – you are being mekayeim the mitzvah of arvus! On that mitzvah there is a separate bracha of “lishmo”.

Since I’m out on a limb anyway, let me throw this out as well. There is a famous story of a guest visiting R’ Chaim Ozer on sukkos when R’ Chaim Ozer was ill, and R’ Chaim Ozer insisted on coming to sit in sukkah with the guest. When asked why he did so when a choleh is patur from sukkah, R’ C. O. replied that a choleh is not patur from hachnasas orchim. I saw in Shu”t Az Nidbaru that R’ Binyamin Zilber was asked whether since R' Chaim Ozer was mechuyav to entertain his guest in the sukkah m’din hachnasas orchim does that in turn remove the ptur choleh from sukkah and leaving the original chiyuv of sukkah in place. Sounds like a wild idea, but it triggered the thought of a pshat that I ask mechila for in advance if you don't like it. Someone who builds a sukkah for a neighbor is mekayeim two birds with one stone: the mitzvah of sukkah and chessed for a friend. Ordinarily an act of chessed is not mechayeiv a bracha, but when paired with the already existing kiyum of sukkah, perhaps the Yerushalmi holds that the bracha is recited over both kiyumim – “la’asos sukkah” on mitzvas sukkah, and “lishmo” on the act of chessed. (Eve if you don't like it, at least give me points for creativity : )


  1. Bill Selliger8:01 PM

    you are being mekayeim the mitzvah of arvus

    My understanding is that arvus is a vehicle that allows/requires Jews to act on behalf of each other, and is an existential reality. You can't be "mikayeim" arvus, just like you can't be "mikayeim" being Jewish. I guess you hold differently.

  2. First, I commented on your "lomdus" posts made long ago. You can check 'em out.
    Second, while I think your "arvus" idea is creative, I don't think there will be much to back it up. Actually, I think the hechsher mitzvah issue is going to play a major factor.

  3. The arvus part I thought is the easy part...tough audience. I think even rishonim say this. For example, by kiddush, once you recited kiddush, what is it that lets you do the mitzvah again for someone else - is it that your mitzvah of kiddush is incomplete as long as someone else needs kiddush recited, or is your mitzvah of kiddush done but there is a new din of arvus that makes you responsible for others. All I am saying is that the Yerushalmi is kovea a seperate bracha on the din of arvus.
    Elamdan - which posts should I check? Thanks

  4. elamdan - just added you to the linkbar.

  5. chaim b.
    Thanks for adding me to your linkbar. My blog is relatively new so I haven't started linking yet... but I have you at the time of my potential links list. I can't remember offhand where I commented before cuz it was a while ago and suddenly succos came, but it was on one of your posts on lomdus in general. If I find it i'll let you know. If you give me some sources on the arvus thing i'll try to check into it.