|Image of typical Sukkah interior from Cross-Currents|
One of the two primary Mitzvah requirements on Sukkos – which commences this evening – is Yeshivas Sukkah - living (eating and sleeping) in a hut-like temporary dwelling for seven days. (The other is the taking of the four species - Lulav, Esrog, Haddaism, and Aravos. Women are exempt from both but are permitted - and generally do - eat in the Sukkah in a family setting. And they generally take the 4 species).
When I awoke this morning, it was raining. Hard. A real downpour. The sages say that if it rains or if there is any other Tzar (pain - e.g. extreme cold) we are absolved of this obligation and do not eat in the Sukkah. This is the Halacha as stated in the Shulchan Aruch.
I thought if the rain continues – all of that effort putting up the Sukkah ...and now we won’t be able to enjoy it. Although on first night we are required to eat a Kezayis of bread in the Sukkah no matter what, there will be no joy in eating it in the rain! The rest of the meal will be in the house.
But the Chasam Sofer offers some words of consolation. He tells us that one of the things the Sukkah symbolizes is the Ananei HaKavod – the clouds of Godly protection that accompanied and hovered over our ancestors on their exodus from Egypt until their entry to Israel. In honoring that Godly symbol - Chas V’Shalom (God forbid) that the Ananei HaKavod should have any connection to pain. That is why we should avoid eating and sleeping there. He adds that under such circumstances eating in the house is as if we were eating in the Sukkah – and thus fulfilling the Mitzvah.
Good Yom Tov