Hey all, the mitzvah of “living” in the sukkah is pretty straightforward, but the question of when to recite the brakha of leishev can be confusing. Below are some FAQs on the topic:
Q: If I have a lunch and make a leishev, then do some homework and chill in the sukkah, then I have dinner, all without ever leaving the sukkah, should I make another leishev? Or not?
A: If you never left, you should not make a new beraka.1
Hanging out without eating
Q: If I just whip it into the sukkah to hang out / read / do homework / learn, and there’s no eating involved, should I make a leishev?
A: The best thing to do is to grab a brownie so you can make a leishev and free yourself of controversy. But barring that, no, you should not make a brakha.2
Q: Should I make leishev by kiddush or by hamotzi?
Q: Since I make leishev by kiddush, shouldn’t I make leishev by havdallah?
A: First of all, they’re not completely the same. With havdallah, you’re not starting a meal (unless you are, then yes, definitely, make a leishev). Also, as the poskim point out, havdallah isn’t something everyone is careful to do at home.
That said, I recommend against making a brakha, but not because the answer is so clear cut.4
- There is a well known position of the Taz (OC 639 s”k 20) that one should make a new berakha at each meal regardless of whether he/she fully left the sukkah, it appears his position was not widely accepted, but is used b’tziruf. For example, see MB 639 s”k 91 and Minhat Shlomo 1st ed. 18:7 ↩
- This is a heated machloket ahronim, with the Hayye Adam (147:15) in the one corner, suggesting to make berakhot on non-food acts of living in the sukkah when food is not available, and the Ma’amar Mordekhai in the other, insisting that one can only ever make a leishev on food. The Piskei Teshuvot (vol 6 pg 377) suggests avoiding the safek and grabbing something to eat. For Sepharadim, the psak is clear not to make a berakha. ↩
- It is at kiddush that you “set” your meal. That is the main trigger for the brakha. This is true despite the fact that wine needn’t be drunk in the sukkah. MB 639 s”k 13 ↩
- Although per the usual, it is for Sepharadim. See Hazon Ovadia Sukkot pg. 138. For Ashkenazim, the answers range widely. Halikhot Shlomo 9:11 (and other places in Shmirat Shabbat k’Hilcheta) says yes, since you wouldn’t make havdallah in the street, although he recommends eating something afterwards to justify the brakha. The Nitey Gavriel (Hilchos Sukkah pg. 249) says not to, since it is not considered kavua. But then he mentions a bunch of other people who do make the brakha, and recommends that is one does, he should “spend some extra time in the sukkah.” The Minchat Yitzchak 9:163 suggests having havdallah in mind during seudah shlishit. All of this is to say that opinions range, and my personal suggestion is to be safe and either a) not say leishev or b) say leishev but then also eat something. ↩