YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev
Sukka 11 - Daf 26b-27a
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Within the quoted texts, my explanations and additions are also noted in red.
Last week, we studied the gemara's ruling that the dispensation of akhilat arai (light snacking), which is permitted outside the sukka, cannot be extended to sleeping. We discussed as well the related issue of sleeping while wearing tefillin. We will now skip the rest of the gemara's discussion about sleeping and tefillin and learn the next mishna, which continues the discussion of akhilat arai in the sukka.
The mishna is on 26b:
It happened that they brought Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai to taste the cooked dish,
and to Rabban Gamliel two dates and a pitcher of water,
and they said: Bring them up to the sukka.
And when they gave R' Zadok food less than an egg-worth, he picked it up in a napkin and ate it outside the sukka, and did not recite a blessing after it.
מעשה והביאו לו לרבן יוחנן בן זכאי לטעום את התבשיל,
ולרבן גמליאל שני כותבות ודלי של מים,
ואמרו: העלום לסוכה.
וכשנתנו לו לרבי צדוק אוכל פחות מכביצה, נטלו במפה ואכלו חוץ לסוכה, ולא בירך אחריו.
Mishnayot form a unit on their own, and their structure is at times overlooked as a result of the gemara's discussions. The previous mishna (on 25a) ended by stating that one may eat and drink light amounts outside the sukka, and our mishna continues that theme by relating three incidents of how tanna'im acted in situations of akhilat arai. I'm sure you have noticed that not all the tanna'im acted the same way: while Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai and Rabban Gamliel were careful to eat their snacks in the sukka, R' Zadok ate his outside the sukka. The gemara noticed that as well; let us see what it has to say:
(Does the mishna bring) an incident to contradict (its previous point)?!
There are (words) missing, and this is what it (should) say: If one comes to be stringent on oneself - one may be stringent, and there is not (a problem) of haughtiness.
And there was an incident too, and they brought Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai to taste the cooked dish, and to Rabban Gamliel two dates and a pitcher of water, and they said: Bring them up to the sukka.
And when they gave to R' Zadok food less than an egg-worth - he took it in a napkin and ate it outside the sukka, and did not make a blessing afterward.
So an egg-worth requires a sukka.
Say that this is a (definitive) response to Rav Yosef and Abaye!
Perhaps: less than an egg-worth does not require washing and blessing, a (full) egg-worth does require washing and blessing.
חסורי מחסרא והכי קתני: אם בא להחמיר על עצמו - מחמיר, ולית ביה משום יוהרא.
ומעשה נמי, והביאו לו לרבן יוחנן בן זכאי לטעום את התבשיל, ולרבן גמליאל שני כותבות ודלי של מים, ואמרו: העלום לסוכה,
וכשנתנו לו לרבי צדוק אוכל פחות מכביצה - נטלו במפה, ואכלו חוץ לסוכה, ולא בירך אחריו.
הא כביצה - בעי סוכה.
לימא תיהוי תיובתיה דרב יוסף ואביי!
דילמא: פחות מכביצה נטילה וברכה לא בעי, הא כביצה בעי נטילה וברכה.
The gemara's initial question must be understood in light of what we mentioned before - that the mishnayot constitute their own continuous unit. Our mishna is a direct continuation of the previous one. Thus, the mishna seems to present a rule which is contradicted by the story that immediately follows it. The rule stated that snacking, akhilat arai, may be done even outside of the sukka, but then the mishna cites incidents in which two of the greatest tanna'im made a point of eating their snacks in the sukka!
The gemara responds by inserting into the mishna an explanatory line which links the two sections, whereby the mishna should read as follows:
1) One may eat an akhilat arai outside the sukka.
2) One may also go to the sukka for the express purpose of eating an akhilat arai. Doing so is not considered presumptuous.
3) The mishna illustrates each of these rulings with stories: Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai and Rabban Gamliel insisted on eating their snacks in their respective sukkot, while R' Zadok ate his snack outside the sukka.
Why would one have thought it inappropriate to go to the sukka to eat an akhilat arai, to the point where the mishna deems it necessary to cite precedents for doing so? After all, the novelty in the mishna seems to be that one does not have to eat an akhilat arai in the sukka, as opposed to akhilat keva, which must always be eaten in the sukka!
In order to understand this point, we must understand the concept of yuhara, haughtiness, a factor that one must take into account when determining the advisability of chumrot - going beyond the requirements demanded by Halakha. Yuhara can have both subjective and objective elements. On the subjective level, if it is a person's pride that motivates him to accept a particular chumra - he wants to demonstrate his superior piety to his friends and acquaintances - the chumra no longer represents an increased commitment to religious growth, and rather signifies an attempt to usurp religious practice to elevate one's own social standing. This is in inappropriate usage of religion, and falls under the broad category of yuhara.
Yuhara also applies when a person may not consciously have in mind to use religious practice for personal social aggrandizement, but the chumra is not consistent with his general religious stature. If a person who is not always careful about every detail that is required suddenly takes upon himself stringencies that are not required, his chumra is either an attempt to appear more pious than he really is (as we saw above) or represents a bloated sense of self. Similarly, if one is ostentatiously careful about a chumra that others in his social framework do not practice, his chumra is most likely yuhara - unless he truly is a tzadik of distinction. (It goes without saying that this does not apply to the strict demands of Halacha, which one must obey regardless of social considerations.)
Yuhara can also apply on a more objective plane. Sometimes, going beyond the letter of the law is religiously meaningless. For example, it would not be a meaningful religious act for a person to take it upon himself to wash his hands before eating all food, just as one must wash before eating bread. Washing for other food is completely devoid of religious significance. If one decides to do so, the only effect is his feeling of having reached a higher spiritual level than he actually has.
With this in mind, we can appreciate the gemara's point. It is not religiously meaningless for one to eat even snacks in the sukka. Since the mitzva is to live in the sukka, any activity one does there becomes part of the mitzva - even an activity which one may also do outside the sukka. Moreover, one really may eat an akhilat arai outside the sukka, and doing so does not indicate a lack of appreciation for the mitzva. These two points are what the mishna meant to convey by recounting the precedents of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai and Rabban Gamliel, as well as that of R' Zadok.
Back to explaining the gemara
Having concluded by mentioning the story of R' Zadok, the gemara makes an inference regarding the definition of akhilat arai. The mishna emphasizes that R' Zadok ate less than a ke-beitza, seemingly casting this quantity as the point of demarcation between akhilat arai and akhilat keva. This poses a difficulty for Rav Yosef, who rules (26a) that even two or three times the volume of an egg is still considered arai. The mishna even seems to present a challenge to Abaye, who argued that one ke-beitza is still arai, as our mishna emphasizes that R' Zadok ate less than a ke-beitza, implying that already a ke-beitza constitutes akhilat keva.
The gemara's answer relates to the fact that the story involving R' Zadok refers to two other halachic issues aside from sukka. The mishna made three observations regarding the way R' Zadok ate his snack:
1) He did not insist on eating in the sukka.
2) He did not wash his hands (netilat yadayim), despite the fact that he ate a bit of bread; instead, he picked up the bread with a napkin, rather than handling it directly.
3) He did not recite a berakha after he ate (berakha acharona).
The mishna emphasized that R' Zadok ate less than a ke-beitza, the Gemara explains, to teach us not the definition of akhilat arai – as less than a ke-beitza of food – but rather about the other two issues mentioned. R' Zadok apparently held that one need not wash netilat yadayim or recite a berakha acharona over less than a ke-beitza of bread. However, if the food measures a full ke-beitza, both netilat yadayim and berakha acharona are required. Since the mishna had to state that the food was less than a ke-beitza for the purpose of these two halakhot, we cannot prove that a full ke-beitza constitutes akhilat keva.
On the level of practical Halakha, we do not rule in accordance with R' Zadok regarding the issues of netilat yadayim and berakha over netilat yadayim in such a case. If one eats less than an olive-worth (ke-zayit), he certainly should not recite a berakha over this washing. With regard to berakha acharona, we follow the view that one recites a berakha after eating a ke-zayit or more.
Concerning, however, the actual issue of akhilat arai, we rule in accordance with the simple understanding of the story of R' Zadok, and assume that less than a ke-beitza constitutes akhilat arai, whereas a full ke-beitza is akhilat keva. It should be noted that this rule applies only to bread and other grain products; other types of food, such as fruits and vegetables, may be eaten outside the sukka even in large quantities. One may eat meat, fish or cheese outside the sukka, as well, though a full meal should be eaten in the sukka.
The next mishna
We now proceed to the next mishna, 7 lines down on 27a.
R' Eliezer says: One must eat fourteen meals in the sukka, one by day and one by night.
And the Sages say: there is no set amount, except for the first night of the holiday.
And R' Eliezer also said: one who did not eat on the first [night] of yom tov should make it up on the last night of yom tov on the holiday.
And the Sages say: there is no make-up, and of this it is said:
"That which is crooked cannot be fixed and that which is missing cannot be counted." (Kohelet 1:15).
רבי אליעזר אומר: ארבע עשרה סעודות חייב אדם לאכול בסוכה, אחת ביום ואחת בלילה.
וחכמים אומרים: אין לדבר קצבה, חוץ מלילי יום טוב ראשון של חג בלבד.
ועוד אמר רבי אליעזר: מי שלא אכל [לילי] יום טוב הראשון - ישלים לילי יום טוב האחרון של חג.
וחכמים אומרים: אין לדבר תשלומין, ועל זה נאמר:
מעות לא יוכל לתקן וחסרון לא יוכל להמנות. (קהלת א:טו)
This mishna presents two arguments between R' Eliezer and the Sages. The first argument pertains to the number of meals one must eat in the sukka over the course of Sukkot. R' Eliezer maintains that Halakha requires eating fourteen meals in the sukka, one by day and one by night throughout the seven days of Sukkot. The Sages argue that one must eat a meal in the sukka on the first night of Sukkot, beyond which there is no set amount of required meals.
Clearly, this does not mean that after the first night of Sukkot one may eat his meals outside the sukka. We are by now very well aware that akhilat keva must be performed only in a sukka. The mishna is to be understood as Rashi explains it (s.v. ein ladavar kitzba): One has the option not to eat any meals at all beyond the first night, subsisting on a diet of akhilot arai for the duration of Sukkot. If one wishes to eat a meal he must do so in the sukka, but he is not obligated to eat any meals at all.
The second dispute pertains to the issue of whether there is any recourse for one who missed eating his meal in the sukka on the first night. R' Eliezer claims that he may make up the meal on the last night, Shemini Atzeret – a surprising ruling considering that the festival of Shemini Atzeret is not technically part of Sukkot. Indeed, likely for this very reason, the Sages disagree, and claim that once the meal is missed, it cannot be made up on Shemini Atzeret.