by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

There are some fascinating halachos about the Sukkah and its decorations of which some people may be unaware.


Once a Sukkah becomes an “Official Sukkah” it is forbidden to derive other types of benefit from its parts for the entire Sukkos. If the Sukkah fell down, that wood may not be used for other purposes. This is true whether we are discussing the wall panels or the Schach (See SA OC 638:1-2 and Ramah).
One may also not benefit from Sukkah decorations throughout Sukkos (See SA 667:1) once the Sukkah has become an “Official Sukkah.” Outside of Israel this means until after Simchas Torah. In Israel it does not include Shmini Atzeres.


How does a Sukkah become an “Official Sukkah?” It had to be used once on Sukkos itself. Merely preparing the Sukkah for use does not make it an “Official Sukkah” for these purposes. This is known as “Hazmana lav milsah” (ibid).


It is a Mitzvah (SA 638:2) to decorate the Sukkah to appear beautiful on account of the idea of “Zeh Keli v’Anveihu.” Indeed, the Shlah HaKadosh (Sukkah Ner Mitzvah #5) writes, “VeMitzvah l’yafoso – Vechol Hamarbeh harei zeh meshubach – It is a Mitzvah to make it beautiful -the more he does so – the more praiseworthy he is.”
The Mogain Avrohom (638:9) writes that one should not post a Pasuk and hang it on the Sukkah. The Bikkurei Yaakov (638:18) is lenient.
It is permitted to use decorations that were made for non-Jewish holidays as a Sukkah decoration, as long as they were never used (Responsa Shaivet HaLevi Vol. II #57).


Ideally, the Sukkah decorations should be within 4 tefachim of the Schach (approximately 12 inches). This makes them insignificant. If it is hanging more than 1 foot below the schach and it is more than 12 inches in length and width then it is not considered sitting in the Sukkah if one sits under it (See MB 627:12).


If the Sukkah decorations fell on Yom Tov itself they are considered Muktzah Machmas Mitzvah and may not be moved regularly. If they fell on the table they may be moved kl’achar yad – in a different manner. If this is not feasible then they be moved normally if the spot is needed. This is only on Yom Tov, but on Shabbos they may only be moved kl’achar yad.
On Chol haMoed they may be put back normally in their place. They may not be used for another purpose throughout the Sukkos holiday.


Although it is discouraged by the Ramah, it is theoretically possible to verbalize a condition before Sukkos begins and say, “I am not bodel – treating them as Noi Sukkah for the Bain HaShmashos of each night of Sukkos.” It is not enough to think this condition, it must be verbalized (Mekor Chaim 638:2).


After Sukkos, the Sukkah decorations should not be used for a degrading purpose. If the decorations were fruits they may be eaten.

As reported by Vos Iz Neias