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Why don't we recite a blessing for building the sukkah?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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Your question really raises another issue: Is the act of building a Sukkah itself a Mitzvah, or is it merely an unavoidable measure that one must take in order to have a sukkah?

The Torah says:1 “You shall make the festival of Sukkot for yourselves,” which the Talmud2 turns around to mean, “Make sukkot for yourselves for the festival,” and derives from this verse that it is a mitzvah to build the sukkah.

Actually, according to the Jerusalem Talmud, you should recite a blessing for building the sukkah (“who has commanded us to build a sukkah”).

True the Babylonian Talmud doesn’t go for this blessing, and the Babylonian version is the one accepted by Jewish law, but all agree that the building of the sukkah is itself a mitzvah.

So why don't we say a blessing?

The Babylonian reasoning for not saying a blessing is this: “You don’t recite a blessing over any mitzvah whose manufacturing is not the completion of the mitzvah, such as Tefillin.” So even according to the Babylonian Talmud, the manufacturing is also a part of the mitzvah, just not the completion of it.3

Footnotes

  • 1. Deuteronomy 6:13
  • 2. Talmud tractate Sukkah 9a
  • 3. Sources: Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 41a; Menachot 42b; Likutei Sichot vol. 17 p. 187
TAGS: sukkah

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Holidays » Sukkot » The Sukkah

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Tefillin
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Sukkah
The temporary structure in which we are required to dwell for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkah must have at least three walls and its roof consists of unsecured branches, twigs or wooden slats.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.