The Berachah of Leisheiv Basukkah

 Courtesy of Ohr Olam Mishnah Berurah

Question: On which types of activities in the sukkah does one make the berachah of leisheiv basukkah?

Discussion: Shulchan Aruch111 and Rema rule that common practice follows the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam, that one makes a berachah only upon eating in the sukkah.112 All other activities performed in the sukkah are considered secondary to eating, and therefore one does not recite a berachah specifically for them.113

There is a dispute among the Poskim regarding the application of this ruling. Chayei Adam114 understands Rabbeinu Tam to mean that since eating is the primary activity of the sukkah, one who will be eating in the sukkah should postpone the berachah until he eats and include all the other activities that he will be doing — beforehand and afterwards — in that berachah. However, if one will not be eating at all in the sukkah, one would recite the berachah on any activity which requires a sukkah and, in fact, even upon merely entering the sukkah for a significant stay.

Ma’amar Mordechai115 disagrees with this understanding and maintains that, according to Rabbeinu Tam, the berachah of the sukkah was instituted only for eating. Hence, one who will not be eating does not recite the berachah at all. Mishnah Berurah rules in accordance with Chayei Adam. It would seem, however, that the more prevalent practice accords with Ma’amar Mordechai (see footnote116).

In any event, since many Rishonim do disagree with Rabbeinu Tam and maintain that the berachah should be recited immediately upon entering the sukkah, one should preferably try to eat something that warrants a berachah (e.g., a pastry) immediately upon entering the sukkah.117

Question: Does one recite the berachah of leisheiv basukkah no matter what one eats in the sukkah?

Discussion: The berachah of leisheiv is recited on a “proper meal.” Classically, this refers to more than a kebeitzah of bread. However, common practice follows the approach that the berachah is recited not only on bread, but on more than a kebeitzah of pastries as well (pas haba’ah bekisnin). This is the accepted halachah, and one may certainly rely on it. However, since some do maintain that pastries do not warrant the berachah, Mishnah Berurah advises that one continue to sit in the sukkah after eating the pastry for a short while. This adds grounds for a berachah, based on the opinion cited above that a stay in the sukkah warrants a berachah in its own right.

Note that the berachah of leisheiv basukkah is customarily recited between the berachah of hamotzi (or mezonos)118 and eating the food. However, in this instance, since it is not entirely clear whether the pastry warrants the berachah and it is recited on the added basis of one’s stay in the sukkah, several Poskim prefer that one not recite leisheiv between the berachah of mezonos and the eating but, rather, beforehand.119

111. 639:8.

112. Some great Poskim did follow the dissenting opinion of the Rishonim who maintain that one recites the berachah of leisheiv immediately upon entering the sukkah, regardless of whether he will be eating. This was the practice of the Chazon Ish (see Dinim V’hanhagos 20:15), following the position and practice of Gra (see Ma’aseh Rav 218). However, it is not advisable to assume this practice, especially for one who is not well versed in the laws of sukkah; see footnote 116 below.

113. Mishnah Berurah 639:46.

114. Cited in Mishnah Berurah, 639:48.

115. 639:8. See, also, Shulchan Aruch Harav 639:12.

116. Hilchos Chag Bechag (II, p. 75) notes that many other Poskim indicate that the custom is to recite a berachah only over eating, in accordance with the view of Ma’amar Mordechai. Shevus Yitzchak (Sukkah p. 71) as well cites the opinion of R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, that one should make sure to eat something rather than simply follow Chayei Adam. However, Chazon Ish (Sefer Hasukkah, new edition, 30, footnote 3) and R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (ibid., volume II, p. 600) ruled that one should follow the ruling of Chayei Adam.

Note that even according to the opinion that one who will not be eating in the sukkah should recite the berachah upon merely being in the sukkah, that is only if he is doing something that is a fulfillment of the mitzvah of sukkah, or is at least specifically making a point of being in the sukkah. However, if one entered the sukkah, for instance, just to get something or to use its interior as a short cut, he should not make a berachah; see Sha’ar Hatziyun 639:93. Additionally, if one is learning in the sukkah, it is difficult to clearly determine when it is included in the mitzvah of sukkah and when it is not; see Shulchan Aruch 639:4, Mishnah Berurah 639:29, and Chut Shani p. 250. Therefore, one who is not thoroughly versed in the halachos of sukkah is advised to recite the berachah only upon eating something.

117. Mishnah Berurah 639:46.

118. Shulchan Aruch 643:3.

119. See Hilchos Chag Bechag (II, p. 32); Sefer Hasukkah new edition, II, p. 600, ruling 20; ibid. I, p. 406, footnote 21. However, Chut Shani (11:14) rules that one should recite the berachah of mezonos first in this case as well.