Vol 19.46 - Chag HaSukkot 1 Spanish French Audio Video
Fulfilling a Mitzvah With a Borrowed Article
It has been taught: Rabbi Eliezer declares: “A person cannot fulfill his obligation on the first day of the festival of Sukkos with a lulav that belongs to a colleague, for it is written:2 'And you shall take for yourselves on the first day, the fruit of a beautiful tree…,’ i.e., these species must be your own. So too, a person does not fulfill his obligation using a sukkah that belongs to a colleague, for it is written:3 'You shall celebrate the festival of Sukkos for seven days for yourselves, ’ i.e., the sukkah must be from your own….”
Our Sages differ, saying: “Although a person does not fulfill his obligation on the first day with a lulav that belongs to a colleague, he may fulfill his obligation using a sukkah that belongs to a colleague, for it is written:4 'Every citizen of Israel shall dwell in sukkos.’ This5 teaches that all of Israel are fit to dwell in a single sukkah. ”
The halachah follows the Sages’ approach, and thus on the first day, a person does not fulfill his obligation with a borrowed lulav.7 With regard to a sukkah, by contrast, a person may fulfill his obligation with a borrowed sukkah.8
From a simple perspective, the Sages’ opinion can be explained as follows: The exegesis of the verse “Every citizen…” comes to teach us that although it is written: “You shall celebrate the festival of Sukkos… for yourselves,” the intent is not that one must own the sukkah,9 but rather that a person cannot fulfill his obligation in a stolen sukkah.
The Shulchan Aruch HaRav , however, offers a different interpretation, stating:10
Although the Torah says: “You shall celebrate the festival of Sukkos… for yourselves,” i.e., the sukkah must be your own, and may not belong to a colleague. Nevertheless, a person may fulfill his obligation with a sukkah that is borrowed. For since he enters it with permission, it is considered as his own. “For yourselves,” i.e., from your own, is mentioned only to exclude a sukkah which was stolen.
The Shulchan Aruch HaRav11 thus explains that a person must own the sukkah which he uses to fulfill his obligation. Nevertheless, a person may fulfill his obligation with a sukkah that is borrowed, because the sukkah’s owner allows the borrower to consider it as his own.
The question thus arises: Why can’t we use that same logic with regard to a lulav? Why is a borrowed lulav unacceptable?
It is possible to explain that there are various levels with regard to defining a person’s ownership of an article. With regard to a lulav, it is required that the person’s ownership be complete and outright. With regard to a sukkah, by contrast, one might say that all that is necessary is that the person have permission to use it; there is no obligation for him to have outright ownership over it.12
This interpretation is not, however, reflected by the wording chosen by the Shulchan Aruch HaRav. On the contrary, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav states:13
A priori, a person should not dwell in a sukkah standing on land belonging to a colleague, for it is not actually called “his own,” and the Torah said: “For yourselves,” i.e., from your own. Such a sukkah does not resemble a sukkah that was borrowed… Since a sukkah was borrowed with the owner’s permission, it is as if it is actually the borrower’s.
Thus the Shulchan Aruch HaRav considers a borrowed sukkah, not as a lesser degree of ownership, but rather as actually belonging to the owner. And thus we return to the question: Why is a borrowed lulav unacceptable?
It is possible to explain that the phrase “Every citizen…” is not coming to teach us that a lesser degree of ownership is acceptable, but rather to clarify why a borrowed sukkah is considered as if it actually belongs to the owner.
To explain: The mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah involves considering the sukkah as one’s permanent dwelling. Thus when a person lends his sukkah to a colleague, he is doing so with the intent that his colleague will regard it as his own in the most complete sense. For it is, for that immediate period, considered as his permanent dwelling. This is the very definition of the mitzvah, and it is only with such an intent that the mitzvah can be fulfilled. And therefore when a sukkah is borrowed with the owner’s permission, it is taken for granted that the owner intended to give it to the borrower in a manner that it is “actually his.”
With regard to a lulav, by contrast, the concept that a person must personally own the four species does not define the mitzvah itself. It is a requirement that must be met, but it is not an integral aspect of the mitzvah. Therefore, for a borrowed lulav to be acceptable on the first day of the holiday, the owner must make a specific stipulation that he is giving it to the recipient as a present to be returned.14 This is not, in contrast to the law regarding a sukkah, a presumption one may take for granted.
The difference between the laws applying to a sukkah and a lulav reflect the spiritual qualities of these mitzvos. Both sukkah and lulav emphasize the unity of the Jewish people. The sukkah, however, underscores the general nature of that unity, that we share a common spiritual heritage. In essence, no Jew is separate from another Jew. And for this reason, “All of Israel are fit to dwell in a single sukkah. ” Extending this theme of oneness, a borrowed sukkah is considered as one’s own, because this spiritual unity relates even to one’s material possessions. It is only when a person’s conduct runs contrary to this pattern, as in the instance of a stolen sukkah, when one’s deeds create separation, that this motif does not apply.
The lulav, by contrast, highlights the unity of our people as each one exists within the context of his individual identity. Each of the four species stands for a different category of Jews, and the mitzvah involves bringing them together.15 Nevertheless, since the emphasis is on every person’s individual identity, when using a lulav belonging to a colleague, a stipulation must be made that it is being given as a present to be returned.
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