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Sukah 27

SUKAH 26 & 27 (Iyar 11 & 12) have been dedicated in memory of Harabbanit Sara Dvasya bas Rav Mordechai by her children (yahrzeit: 11 Iyar)


QUESTION: A Beraisa relates that Rebbi Ila'i once went to greet his rebbi, Rebbi Eliezer, during Sukos. Rebbi Eliezer asked him how he could leave his home when the Torah requires that one stay home and rejoice with one's wife during the festival.

The Gemara asks how can there be a requirement to stay home with one's wife during the festival? There is another requirement to go greet one's rebbi on the festival! We learn this requirement, says Rebbi Yitzchak, from the words of the Shunamite woman's husband, who asked his wife (Melachim II 4:23), "Why are you going to him (the prophet, Elisha) today? It is not Rosh Chodesh, nor is it Shabbos!" From here, says that the Gemara, we learn that one is required to visit his rebbi on Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos, and if so, Rebbi Ila'i was justified in visiting Rebbi Eliezer during Sukos.

What is the Gemara's question? The requirement to visit one's rebbi seems to apply only on Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos, but not on Yom Tov, because the verse mentions only Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos and makes no mention of Yom Tov!


(a) The RITVA (here, and in Rosh ha'Shanah 16b) addresses this question. He says that there are three different requirements. (1) If one's rebbi is in the same town, then one is required to visit him every day. (2) If one's rebbi is outside of the town, but within the Techum Shabbos (2000 Amos), then one is required to visit him only on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh. (3) If one's rebbi lives beyond the Techum Shabbos from one's town, then he is required to visit him only on the festival (such as during Chol ha'Mo'ed, when there is no Isur Techum, or he goes before Yom Tov).

In Melachim, Elisha was outside of the town, but within the Techum Shabbos, and that is why the husband of the Shunamite women mentioned only Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos. Rebbi Yitzchak, when he taught this Halachah, did not mention the requirement to visit one's rebbi every day when his rebbi lives in the same town, because everyone is heedful of that requirement (since not much effort is required in traveling); he mentioned only the Halachah with regard to Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos because when the rebbi lives outside of the town, people neglect the requirement to go visit him.

(b) The MAHARSHA here says that if one is required to visit his rebbi on Rosh Chodesh, then certainly one is also required to visit his rebbi on Yom Tov, even though the verse does not specifically mention Yom Tov. (The Maharsha does not address why Yom Tov is left out of the verse.)

(c) The TUREI EVEN (Rosh ha'Shanah 16b) points out that it is strange that the verse mentions Rosh Chodesh before Shabbos. It should have mentioned Shabbos first, since Shabbos comes more frequently than Rosh Chodesh. It must be, he says, that the word "Shabbos" in the verse refers to Yom Tov (as we find elsewhere, such as in Vayikra 23:16).

(d) Although, ideally, one should visit his rebbi every day (in order to learn Torah), doing so is not possible because a person is occupied with his work. Therefore, only when one is not working is he required to visit his rebbi. We see this from the verse in Melachim, since the Shunamite woman's husband implied that on days that women do not do Melachah (Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh, as is the custom for women not to do Melachah on Rosh Chodesh), she would visit the rebbi. That implies that on days that men do not do Melachah (Shabbos and Yom Tov), they should visit the rebbi. Women, on the other hand, are not free during a Yom Tov since they have cooking and other work to do even on Yom Tov. They are only free on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh (ETZ YOSEF, citing the IYEI HA'YAM)

(e) The CHANUKAS HA'TORAH (Rosh ha'Shanah 16b) explains that since it is inappropriate for a woman to visit the rebbi when his Talmidim are there (see Kidushin 81a), the only time she would be obligated to visit the rebbi is when the Talmidim are not there. Thus, the Shunamite woman's husband asked her why she was going to the prophet when it was not Rosh Chodesh or Shabbos -- days on which the Talmidim are not at their rebbi's, but are at home. The verse implies that she would have no obligation to visit the rebbi on the festival. Why not? It must be because the Talmidim are visiting the rebbi on the festival, which teaches that there is an obligation to visit the rebbi on the festival!

(f) RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ (Ya'aros Devash 1:12 and elsewhere) explains that when the Beis ha'Mikdash was standing (such as in the time of Elisha and the Shunamite woman), everyone would go greet the presence of the Shechinah in Yerushalayim. They would visit the rebbi only on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh, when there was no requirement to go to Yerushalayim. After the Churban, though, the practice was instituted to visit the rebbi in place of going to Yerushalayim, because a Talmid Chacham reflects the presence of the Shechinah. (See also ARUCH LA'NER, and MALBIM to Melachim II 4:23, who explain similarly.)

(g) The NODA B'YEHUDAH (OC II:94) says more or less the opposite. When the verse mentions Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos, it also means to include Yom Tov; it is referring to all days that have additional Kedushah (as is indicated by the additional Korban that is brought, the Korban Musaf), and on those day's the rebbi's ability to affect his Talmidim is heightened, and thus there is a practice to visit the rebbi on those days. However, there is no obligation to go on *all* of those days, because then one would be visiting his rebbi more often than he would be visiting the Shechinah (on the three Regalim), and it is not proper for the honor of the Shechinah to be less than the honor of one's rebbi (Kidushin 33b). The obligation to visit one's rebbi can apply only as much as one is obligated to visit the Shechinah, but not more. Therefore, the Gemara says that one is obligated to visit his rebbi on each of the three Regalim.

Based on this, the Noda b'Yehudah explains that today, while the Beis ha'Mikdash has not yet been rebuilt, there is no obligation to visit one's rebbi (unless, of course, one is going with the purpose to learn Torah from him) on the Regel, since there is no obligation to visit the Shechinah at the Beis ha'Mikdash, and the honor of one's rebbi should not be greater than the honor of the Shechinah. Therefore, the TUR and the SHULCHAN ARUCH omitted this Halachah, since they recorded only the Halachos that were relevant in practice in their days, when the Beis ha'Mikdash was not standing. The RAMBAM, though, includes this Halachah (Hilchos Talmud Torah 5:7), because he writes all of the Halachos which are relevant when the Beis ha'Mikdash is standing.

(See also MAHARATZ CHIYUS, Rosh ha'Shanah 16b; CHIDUSHEI GE'ONIM in the Ein Yakov; and EINEI SHMUEL for other approaches; see also DIVREI SHALOM 2:25.)

QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan bar'Rebbi Ila'i asked Rebbi Eliezer whether it was permitted to cover the Sukah with a sheet on a sunny day, when the heat was causing the occupants discomfort. Rebbi Eliezer did not answer the question, because it was his practice never to say a Halachah which he did not hear from his rebbi. We find a similar interaction in Yoma (66b), where Rebbi Eliezer did not answer a number of questions because he did not hear the answers from his rebbi.

The Acharonim ask that Rebbi Eliezer seems to contradict his practice in a few places. We find in the case of "Tanur Shel Achnai" (Bava Metzia 59b) that Rebbi Eliezer argued with all of the other Chachamim when he declared a certain type of oven to be Tahor when the Chachamim ruled that it was Tamei. The Chachamim acted harshly with him and excommunicated him. The RAMBAN there explains that they were so strict with him because he was acting in the manner of a "Zaken Mamrei." A "Zaken Mamrei" is a sage who opposes the opinion of the Chachamim, when the Chachamim's opinion is based on a received tradition and the opposing sage's opinion is based on his own logic. In the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash, a "Zaken Mamrei" was punished with death (Sanhedrin 88a). Since Rebbi Eliezer was giving an opinion based on his own view and opposing the opinion of the Chachamim which they had received from their teachers, he was acting like a "Zaken Mamrei" and therefore the Chachamim excommunicated him.

It is clear that Rebbi Eliezer was presenting an opinion that he had not heard from his rebbi. How is that to be reconciled with his practice of not saying anything that he did not hear from his rebbi? (CHAVOS YA'IR #94, DH uv'Emes)

In addition, it is related in Avos d'Rebbi Nasan (ch. 6) that Rebbi Eliezer was once asked by his rebbi to rise and speak. He declined, but his rebbi and the other Talmidim prodded him. He then discoursed in ways that "no ear had ever heard before" -- including his rebbi's! (RAV CHAIM SHMULEVITZ, Sichos Musar 5731, #23)


(a) The SEFAS EMES (Yoma 66b) answers that the practice of not saying anything that one did not hear from one' rebbi is a form of showing honor for one's rebbi. This form of showing honor applies only when the rebbi is living. Rebbi Eliezer, therefore, indeed said things that he had not heard from his teachers after they had died, such as in the case of "Tanur Shel Achnai."

If so, it may be suggested that In the incident in Avos d'Rebbi Nasan, it was his rebbi who asked him to speak and say something new, and therefore, in that situation, he showed honor to his rebbi by heeding his request and saying something he had not heard from his rebbi!

(b) The CHAVOS YA'IR answers that Rebbi Eliezer certainly discussed Halachos with his colleagues and teachers and offered his own approach. However, when it came to issuing a Halachic ruling in practice, he would only say the Halachah if his rebbi had taught it to him or had agreed to his opinion. In the case of "Tanur Shel Achnai," he was not issuing a Halachic ruling based on his viewpoint; rather, he was merely arguing with the opinion of the Rabanan and saying that he disagreed with their logic.

This approach is difficult to understand, because in the incident of "Tanur Shel Achnai," the Gemara says that they brought all the ovens that he was Metaher and destroyed them, in opposition to his opinion. That implies that he had issued a Halachic ruling in practice concerning many ovens. According to the Chavos Ya'ir, it must be that they brought all the ovens that he *wanted* to be Metaher, but not that he actually was Metaher.

(c) RAV CHAIM SHMULEVITZ says that Rebbi Eliezer certainly said Halachos that he did not hear form his teachers. However, he only said them when he had determined that his teachers would have also come to the same conclusion.

The is support for this in the incident recorded in Avos d'Rebbi Nasan. After everything that Rebbi Eliezer taught, his rebbi came and kissed him on the forehead. This implies that his rebbi was happy that Rebbi Eliezer had learned his approach and was able to come to the same conclusions that his rebbi would have taught.

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