By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
You are visiting a friend. You are not eating. What is the actual halacha? Do we recite a blessing just upon entering a Sukkah or do we just recite when we eat Mezonos?
THE GAONIM VERSUS RABBEINU TAM
The Mishna Brurah (note #46) on Shulchan Aruch (OC 639:8) explains that even though we rule like the Gaonim that, technically, a blessing should be recited each time we merely enter a Sukkah, the custom in Klal Yisroel is to follow the view of Rabbeinu Tam that a blessing is only made upon eating a mezonos. The reason is that the essential use of the Sukkah is for eating.
The Mishna Brurah does cite the TaZ who rules that if one is fasting, then one would recite a laishev basukkah just for entering the Sukkah because there is no essential use of eating, [so ostensibly, another use kicks in as the essential one.]
THE CONTRADICTION IN THE MISHNA BRURAH
The Shaar HaTziyun (639:93) deals with a case of someone visiting his friend’s Sukkah during the meal. He writes that it is a debate between the first Lubavitcher Rebbe who says no bracha, and the Chayei Odom who rules that a bracha is recited even when he doesn’t eat. The Chofetz Chaim in this case – is concerned for the view of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and does not come out conclusively one way or the other. Yet, in the other case earlier of someone that will enter his own house without having eaten in the Sukkah, the Mishna Brurah rules like the Chayei Odom to require a blessing! What is the difference?
FOR OVER A CENTURY
So for over a century, people have dealt with this contradiction by eating that dessert. [Perhaps this explains the weight gain of frum people in the past century]. But what if people do not wish to resolve the contradiction in this manner?
EXTRAPOLATING FROM THE MONEY CASE
Perhaps we can answer the question from another case. In Shaar HaTziyun #93, the Chofetz Chaim writes that if the person enters his friend’s Sukkah to collect money that is owed to him – then he does not recite a bracha – if he doesn’t care, where exactly he encounters him.
A POSSIBLE ANSWER
Perhaps we can say that the Chofetz Chaim is concerned for the view of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe in a case where he is visiting his friend, but does not care whether or not his friend is in the Sukkah. When it is his own Sukkah, however, he was in there for the purpose of Sukkah. In that case, The Chofetz Chaim rules straight out like the Chayei Odom.
If what we are saying is correct, then it would make a difference as to whether he is specifically visiting his friend’s Sukkah and he would not have visited otherwise. In that case, he would make a bracha.
Of course, everyone should consult his own Rav or Posaik – but it is a fascinating topic. Those who follow the rulings of the Rebbe, however, should not recite a blessing.
Everyone should have a beautiful Yom Tov filled with Torah and inspiration!
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