The Difference Between Matzah and Succah

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zeman-simchaseinuBy Rav Chaim Charlap

Rosh Yeshivas Bais Zvul

(Adapted from his sefer Ohr Chaim on Yomim Tovim)

Is there a mitzvah to eat matzah all seven days?

Why don’t we make a birchas hamitzvah every time we eat matzah?

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 475:7) tells us that the positive injunction to eat matzah on Pesach is only a kezayis the first night, while the remainder of Pesach – although one may not eat chometz – one is not required to eat matzah.  The Shulchan Aruch (539:3) tells us that the same applies for eating in the succah; the obligation is only to eat a kezayis the first night. The remainder of Succos, however, one who does not eat more than the size of a beitzah, an egg, is not obligated to eat in the succah.  The source of this is the Gemara in Succah (27a), which tells us that we learn Succos from Pesach through a hekeish.

 Nevertheless, we find a major difference between one who wants to eat matzah during the remainder of Pesach and one who wants to eat in the succah during the remainder of Succos.  One who voluntarily eats in the succah is obligated to make a bracha on the mitzvah  of eating in the succah throughout the seven days of Succos, while one who voluntarily eats matzah the remainder of Pesach does not make a bracha on the matzah.

What is the difference between matzah and succah?  If we don’t make a bracha on matzah during the remainder of Pesach because there is no obligation to eat matzah, why then do we make a bracha on succah during the remainder of Succos?

The Magein Avrohom’s Answer
The Magein Avrohom (639) quotes the answer of the Maharil that on Succos, although there is no obligation to eat in the succah all seven days, nevertheless, one who eats in the succah is performing a mitzvah, and therefore one recites a bracha every time he eats in the succah. However, on Pesach there is no mitzvah to eat matzah all seven days, just a prohibition on eating chametz. (See Chasam Sofer on the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 539).

The Baal Hama’or‘s Answer

The Baal Hama’or at the end of Perek Arvei Pesochim gives a different answer. Since a person can sustain himself the whole Pesach with rice and other edibles without eating matzah, he need not make a bracha every time he eats matzah.  However, since a person cannot function three days without sleep, and eventually he will have to perform the mitzvah of succah during the seven days, one therefore recites a bracha every time he performs the mitzvah of succah.  [It’s worthy to note that the Rashba (Vol. 3 Teshuva 287) refutes this answer by saying that on Succos one can also alleviate himself from the mitzvah of succah all seven days if he is involved in doing other mitzvos or if he is a traveler.] 

[One can question the Baal Hama’or‘s statement that on Pesach one can alleviate himself from eating matzah throughout the seven days by eating rice and other edibles, since even though this is true during weekdays, nevertheless, on Shabbos and Yom Tov one is obligated to eat a seudah with bread (i.e. matzah on Pesach). (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 188). Even if the Baal Hama’or is of the opinion that there is no obligation to eat bread on Yom Tov (see Tosafos, Succah 27a), nevertheless, the question still remains, since on Shabbos there is definitely an obligation to eat bread (see Rashba, Brachos 67a). We can infer that the Baal Hama’or is of the opinion that the obligation of eating bread on Shabbos and Yom Tov is only if it gives one pleasure, but that if eating causes a person displeasure, one is exempt from eating. (See Biur Halacha 539:3)].

From the fact that the Baal Hama’or doesn’t give the answer of the Magein Avrohom, we can deduce that he is of the opinion that on Pesach there is also a mitzvah when one eats matzah all seven days, similar to eating in the succah all seven days.

The View of the Vilna Gaon & the Mishnah Berurah

 The Mishnah Berurah (539:24) quotes the Vilna Gaon‘s opinion that there is a mitzvah to eat matzah all seven days of Pesach.  The Mishnah Berurah goes on to say that according to this opinion, it’s possible that the same applies to eating in the succah all seven days.

It seems that the Vilna Gaon and the Mishnah Berurah are both of the opinion that it is an accepted fact that there is a mitzvah to eat matzah all seven days of Pesach, and the Mishnah Berurah entertains the possibility that the same applies to eating in the succah all seven days. This seems to contradict the opinion of the Maharil and the Magein Avrohom mentioned above to the contrary, that on Succos there is a mitzvah to eat in the succah all seven days and we recite a bracha every time we eat in the succah, while on Pesach there is no mitzvah to eat matzah all seven days, (just a prohibition to eat chometz), and we don’t make a bracha every time we eat matzah.  It also seems to contradict the opinion of the Baal Hama’or that states as an accepted fact that there is a mitzvah  to eat in the Succah all seven days; this is also the opinion of Rav Akiva Eiger (Succah 25:a), whereas the Mishnah Berurah is not sure of this.  

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