The Talmud now resolves that we need both sources, the verse “when you walk on the path” and the story about the men who were occupied with a dead body (a met mitzvah) and therefore couldn’t offer the pesah, in order to fully derive that one who is occupied with a commandment is exempt from performing another commandment. If we didn’t have both sources, one would not have known the extent of this principle.
If I only had the source about the men who buried the body, I would have said that one should not refrain from performing a mitzvah now just because it will prevent him from performing a mitzvah later. This is exactly what the men did when they buried the body. They buried the body even though that meant that they couldn’t offer the pesah on time. However, if I am currently occupied with one mitzvah and another one comes at the same time, I might have thought that I should fulfill both of them. Therefore, I need the verse in the Shema to tell me that if I am currently doing one mitzvah, I need not perform simultaneously another one.
If the only verse I had was the case of the Shema, I would have said that if one is performing a mitzvah he need not perform another one at the same time, as long as the mitzvah he doesn’t perform is not punishable by “karet,” a serious punishment, which is the consequence of not offering the Pesah. Therefore, we need the case of the impure men to teach us that even though they risk not being able to fulfill a mitzvah punishable by the serious punishment of karet, they still invoke the principle that one who is occupied with a mitzvah is exempt from performing another mitzvah.
The Talmud now goes back to discussing the source concerning the mourner being exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah.
In Ezekiel 24:15-17 God tells Ezekiel that he is about to take his wife away from him but that he is not allowed to mourn over her. God specifies certain ways in which Ezekiel is to behave. The rabbis use these verses to derive some of the laws of mourning. Among His instructions, God tells him, “Put on your turban.” The word for “turban” can also be translated as “your beauty” and the rabbis interpret this to mean tefillin. Ezekiel was told specifically to put on his tefillin—their presence upon him was a sign that he wasn’t mourning. But all other mourners are not allowed to wear their tefillin while mourning.
However, this only applies to the first day of mourning. After the first day, even a mourner must put on his tefillin.
The Talmud now quotes another statement by R. Abba b. Zavda. He holds that a mourner is obligated to sit in the sukkah.
But, the Talmud asks, isn’t this obvious! We just said above that a mourner is obligated for all of the mitzvot in the Torah. Why issue a separate statement saying that he is obligated to sit in the sukkah?
The answer comes in light of another statement by R. Abba b. Zavda. In this other statement he says that one who is experiencing discomfort by sitting in the sukkah need not stay there (we shall examine this later in the chapter). We might have thought that the mourner is also experiencing discomfort and should be exempt from the sukkah. Therefore, R. Abba bar Zavda teaches us that the discomfort that exempts one from sitting in the sukkah is only discomfort that is a result of sitting in the sukkah. It is externally caused (too hot, too cold, bugs) and therefore cannot be controlled. In contrast, the discomfort to the mourner is caused by his own emotions. He must settle his thoughts such that he can be in the sukkah, even after a relative has died.
We should note that during the festival one does not mourn. So the person is not really a “mourner” but rather someone who has just experienced the death of a relative over whom he would have had to mourn. Finally, I should also note that today a mourner puts on tefillin after the burial, but not before the burial.
Today’s section teaches that people who are involved with celebrating a wedding are exempt from sitting in the sukkah.
R. Abba bar Zavda says that all of the wedding celebrants are exempt from sitting in the sukkah, for all seven days of the wedding celebration. Note that in talmudic times proper weddings seem to have been seven days of celebration. This is already reflected in the Torah where Jacob marries Leah and then must wait another seven days to marry Rachel.
Note that this halakhah seems to be a derivative of his other halakhah—one who is occupied with a mitzvah is exempt from performing another mitzvah. People who are occupied in celebrating the marriage are not liable to perform the mitzvah of sukkah.
The Talmud now tries to find some way to allow the wedding celebrators to still fulfill the commandment of the sukkah. The first option would be to have the wedding feast in the sukkah. The problem with that is that in Talmudic times they seem to have celebrated in the actual huppah. You can’t have the wedding feast anywhere else. We should note that it is not all that clear what the “huppah” was in the times of the Talmud. It was certainly not the symbolic huppah we use today. In this sugya we can see that it seems to have been some sort of room.
The next idea would be to eat in the sukkah, but celebrate in the huppah. The problem with that is that you can’t really celebrate somewhere besides where the food is [still remains 100 per cent true today!].
The next possibility would be just to do the huppah inside the sukkah. I take this to mean, why not just move the entire wedding and celebration into the sukkah.
Rashi explains Abaye as saying that the problem is that they used to put their sukkot on their roofs. The sukkah was not particularly accessible to people. If the husband had to go down to the bathroom it might happen that he would leave another man alone in the sukkah with his wife. This was strictly forbidden because of what is known as “yihhud” or “seclusion.”
Rava says that having the huppah in the sukkah would be a discomfort to the groom. Rashi notes that since it was so small he would have trouble “playing” there with his wife. It seems that the couple was supposed to consummate their marriage in the huppah, which was originally an actual room. Doing so in a sukkah, while possible, just isn’t the same.
As the Talmud often does, it asks what the practical difference is between Abaye’s reason for why one can’t have the huppah in the sukkah, and Rava’s.
The two amoraim will differ in a case where people are going in and out of the sukkah. Since there will not be a problem of seclusion in such a case, Abaye would say that it is okay. Rava would say that the problem of the discomfort still exists so it is not allowed.
Despite the fact that the sugya says one is not obligated to eat in the sukkah during the seven days of feasting following a marriage, R. Zera says that he did indeed do both—he ate in the sukkah and celebrated in the huppah. This caused him even greater rejoicing in that he could fulfill both commandments. We should note that this is a slightly different “rejoicing” then was referred to before. Rejoicing at a wedding is not because it is a commandment, but because one is genuinely happy, or at least supposed to be, about what has actually happened. In contrast, R. Zera’s rejoicing is at the opportunity to perform a commandment. It is a religious type of rejoicing. I don’t think these contradict each other (most of the time), but I do believe that they are slightly different.