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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Sukkot

Sleeping in the Sukkah

If a sukkah is built so poorly that it is not possible to sleep in it, some authorities hold that it is not kosher and that one may not even eat in it. However, in practice, we do not follow this view, and such a sukkah is nonetheless kosher.
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1. Sleeping in the Sukkah
2. A Sukkah that Cannot Be Slept In
3. Sleeping with One’s Wife in the Sukkah
4. A Bunk Bed in the Sukkah
5. Under a Clothesline

Sleeping in the Sukkah
During the Sukkot festival a Jew is obligated to sleep in a sukkah. In fact, sleeping in the sukkah is more crucial an obligation than eating in the sukkah. This is because casual ("ara’ee") eating is permitted outside the sukkah, but casual sleeping is not. (With the exception of the first day of the festival, one must eat in the sukkah only if he will consume an egg-size ["k’beitza"] portion of bread.)

Sometimes a person feels very tired, and five minutes of sleep is enough to alleviate his fatigue. Therefore, a person should act stringently and refrain from sleeping outside the sukkah even casually.

A Sukkah that Cannot Be Slept In
If a sukkah is built so poorly that it is not possible to sleep in it, some authorities hold that it is not kosher and that one may not even eat in it. However, in practice, we do not follow this view, and such a sukkah is nonetheless kosher (see Kaf HaChaim 640:33).

Sleeping with One’s Wife in the Sukkah
One must make his sukkah in such a manner that he can dwell in it with his wife. If the woman is weary of sleeping alone in the house, the husband should not sleep in the house for her sake; rather, he should bring his wife to sleep with him in the sukkah. If she is weary of the cold, he should buy her a good sleeping bag. At any rate, one should be careful to avoid "hezek re’iyah" (lit. sight damage), exposure to the gaze of people from above.

A Bunk Bed in the Sukkah
Regarding a bunk bed in the sukkah, the person sleeping on top certainly fulfills his obligation, but the one sleeping on the bottom does not, because instead of being under the sukkah he is under the upper bed (unless it does not have a height of ten "tefachim," handbreadths).

The Talmud relates that Rabban Gamliel had a slave by the name of Tavi. One Sukkot night Tavi slept under Rabban Gamliel’s bed in the sukkah. There were important rabbis present, and they asked Tavi to come out from under the bed like the rest of them. Rabban Gamliel said, "Look how learned my slave Tavi is; he knows that slaves are exempt from the sukkah commandment" (see Sukkah 20b).

Under a Clothesline
What happens if the clothesline of a person living on the upper floor hangs over the sukkah of the lower resident?

First of all, it is true that we refrain from laundering clothes during Sukkot, but a person who has no other clothes to wear may wash a specific dirty garment and hang it to dry. And though the washing and hanging should not be done in public, if there is no other place to hang the garment, he may hang it on a clothesline.

The problem, though, is that the hanging garment greatly disturbs the one who resides below because it drips into his sukkah and covers part of the sukkah, invalidating the underlying area.

(Incidentally, removing the garment does not invalidate the Sukkah on the grounds of "ta’aseh, ve-lo min he-asui" ["make it, and not from what has already been made"], for here the Sukkah was kosher to begin with.)

In such a case, I would suggest that the upstairs resident go to his neighbor below, apologize, and explain that he has no choice but to hang his laundry over the sukkah. The owner of the sukkah should pardon his neighbor, and perhaps the two can decide on a time to hang the garment when the lower resident will not be in his sukkah. By doing this he fulfills the verse, "You shall do that which is just and good" and increases unity, in keeping with the spirit of the Sukkot festival.
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