Yesterday we raised the question of whether the mitzvah of sukkah on the first night derived from the hekesh of 15-15 to Pesach is a new chiyuv achila or whether it is simply a giluy milsa that yeshivas sukkah is obligatory and not optional.
Very briefly, as we discussed it in the past (here), this issue may underlie the machlokes Rishonim whether one must eat in the sukkah even if it rains on the first night. If the mitzvah on the first night is one of yeshivas sukkah, than the regular rules of yeshivas sukkah apply and mitzta’er patur min hasukkah. However, if the hekesh of 15-15 tells us that there is a chiyuv achila (which happens to have to take place in the sukkah), then the rules of achila apply, not the rules of yeshivas sukkah, and there is no ptur of mitzta’er.
Another interesting potential nafka minah to this question is the issue of kavanah. The Rambam (as understood by the Ran) distinguishes between two different categories of mitzvos. When it comes to eating matzah, the Rambam holds that one fulfills the mitzvah even without explicit kavanah, as the act of eating is a physical experience that occurs willy-nilly of one’s mental state. However, when it comes to the mitzvah of shofar, the Rambam holds that kavanah is required, as the purpose of the mitzvah is not the physical act of blowing, but rather the mental state of arousal to tshuvah that tekiyas shofar elicits.
Does the mitzvah of sukkah on the first night necessitate kavanah? If the hekesh of 15-15 is a chiyuv achila, then it should be no different than the mitzvah of matzah. However, if it is a mitzvah of yeshivas sukkah, not achila, perhaps different parameters apply. (As an aside, the Bach writes that the Tur/Shulchan Aruch tells us the reason for the mitzvos of sukkah, tefilin, and tzitzis because kavanah is inherently part of these mitzvos, not an optional additional kiyum. The pasuk of “l’ma’an yed’u doroseichem…,” suggests that knowledge of why we sit in sukkah is required, above and beyond what may be the case based only on the sugya of mitzvos tzerichos kavanah.)
In the sefer Reshimos Shiurim, Rav Soloveitchik is quoted as suggesting that this nafka minah may not work. Even if the kiyum mitzvah accomplished on the first night is one of yeshivas sukkah, practically speaking that mitzvah must be accomplished through a physical act of eating. Instead of basing the level of kavanah required on the kiyum mitzvah, perhaps we should base it on the ma’aseh mitzvah, and equate sukkah with matzah.