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Thought for the Day: Eating/Sleeping/Living in A Sukkah Requires Explicit Kavana

An average bull will run you about $3,000.  How confident am I in that number?  Heck... I typed "cost of average bull" into Google and picked the first link that looked like it had an answer in the first paragraph or so.  Similar research revealed you could get a ram for under $500; goats a drop cheaper.

Why should you care?  I made two mistakes this week.  First, while saying the "al cheits" I checked the footnotes to see what I was signing up for when I said "al chatayim sh'chayav aleihem korban olah".  Turns out one needs to bring a korban olah (hence the bull, ram, and goat research) for being m'vatel an asei; not performing a biblically mandated positive commandment.  So far so good, though; I put on t'fillin, I make kiddush shabbos and holidays, I say k'ri'as sh'ma twice a day.  When it comes to bitul asei, I felt in pretty good shape.  The big mistake was opening Halichos Shlomo to hilchos yishvas sukkah.

Halichos Shlomo notes that we hold l'halacha that "mitvos tzrichos kavana" for mitvos d'oraisa.  That means that one needs specific intent to be performing said action as fulfillment of biblical directive in order to actually get credit for the mitzvah.  Even if one were to put on m'hudar t'tifilin, but have no particular intention in mind, he would still being m'vatel an asei; no different than if he left them in the t'filin zekel all day.  The Chayei Adam (klal 68, as brought by the Mishna Brura, siman 60, sk 10) is our saviour, because he says that if you are doing something that has no possible reason other than performance of a mitzvah, that counts as (barely) acceptable kavana.  Since I would not be spending $1000 or more for black leather boxes to tie on my arms (no matter how stylish... have you seen how I dress?!), I must be doing the act to perform a mitzvah.  Whew.

When it comes to sitting in a sukkah, though... I have lots of reasons to sit outside on my deck and eat.  So, since yeshivas sukkah is a mitvas asei m'd'oraisa, it requires kavana to fulfill.  Eating in the sukkah without kavana, therefore, may be the same as eating a meal outside of the sukkah altogether.  Yes, Halichos Shlomo knows that Minchas Chinuch that says even if you eat outside a sukkah mamash you are still not m'vatel the asei.  Halichos Shlomo brings plenty of reason not to rely on that Minchas Chinuch.

Further analysis is outside the scope of this post; though I may do more in coming days.  Bottom line, it is important to have explicit kavana every moment you are in a sukkah that you are there on direct orders from the Lord.  Or start saving up.

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