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Thought for the Day: Enhancing Observance of a Mitzvah vs Beautifying the Mitzvah Observance

I had forgotten to bring my Shabbos tallis back to shul since our return from visiting the grandchildren in Florida (we have children there also, but I only travel for grandchildren).  Being as it was Friday, I decided to drop it off on my way to work... by bike... in my shorts, helmet, and whatnot.  I got there before the throng of after davening learners had left.  They are all my friends, so of course the all gave my (good natured) grief about coming to shul dressed like that.  On the heels of the ribbing we all agreed, of course, that being embarrassed by the way he is dressed is no excuse to miss a minyan.

Halacha mandates that (besided t'fillin) a man should wear a tallis gadol and be dressed as one would for a formal meeting (I interpret that to mean as I would dress for a job interview).  Now, no matter how beautiful his suit and hat are, he can certainly wear them into the bathroom.  On the other hand, no matter how chintzy his tallis gadol is, he may not wear it into the bathroom.  What's the difference?  My clothing, no matter how nice, are not designated as specifically for davening.  Wearing nicer clothes beautifies my observance of the mitzvah of t'fila; something required of all mitzvos.  On the other hand, since a tallis is an integral part of my "davening uniform", having even a chintzy tallis does something other than beautify the mitzvah, it enhances the mitzvah.

This difference -- beautification vs enhancement -- is even more apparent when it comes to the mitzvah of sukkah.  On the one hand, I have a mitzvah of sukkah.  On the other hand, the mitzvah of sukkah is תשבו כעין תדורו/live there as you live in your home the rest of the year.  I have two cool examples.

Part of making a sukkah is to decorate it; the decorations are called נוי סוכה.  After all, I decorate my home, so I should decorate my sukkah.  נוי סוכה is such an integral part of the observance of sukkah, that the נוי סוכה are muktzah on Shabbos and Yom Tov.  R' Moshe, though, says that a decoration only merits the title נוי סוכה if it is something with which you would actually decorate your house.  Obviously pictures and posters count in that.  But even fruit counts, says R' Moshe, in explaining the p'sak of the Shulchan Aruch.  Why?  Because the only reason you don't decorate your house with fruit is that it doesn't age well.  Since you will only be residing in your sukkah for a week or so, the fruit will be just fine.  R' Moshe doesn't give an example of non-נוי סוכה decorations, but I think paper chains qualify.  That's a big help, since we all have little paper chainlettes all over the floor of our sukkah after the first rain.  If they were נוי סוכה, then they'd be muktzah and have to remain there all Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Here's another example: The Mishna Brura notes in sk 16 of siman 639 that eating a danish with coffee in the sukkah is certainly enough of an eating event to require sukkah and one should make the bracha of לישב בסוכה.  Yes, yes -- he affirms -- even though it is not enough to be in the category of being קובע סעודה that would require one to wash, say ha'motzi, and bentch.  On the other hand, in sk 22 the same Mishna Brura says that you don't need to eat in a Sukkah after the first day -- even on Shabbos when you must eat enough bread to be קובע סעודה; as long as you eat only an olive's worth and less than an egg's worth, you would not require sukkah and would not make the bracha of לישב בסוכה!  What's going on here?

R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (thank you, thank you, Dirshu) explains that in the case of Shabbos, the bread is required by Shabbos and not by Sukkos.  Therefore what?  According to what we have said before, this fits very nicely.  Having a danish and coffee in the morning is normal living, therefore sukkah is required by תשבו כעין תדורו; that is, it is an enhancement of the observance of Sukkos.  Eating a Shabbos meal, though, is something I would do anyway, whether or not I was home.  Therefore eating a small Shabbos meal in the sukkah is a nice thing to do, but not required; it is a beautification of the mitzvah because I am using my sukkah even when not required.


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