Today’s section is based on the line in the mishnah that says that on the seventh day after the aravah ritual was completed the children would eat their etrogim. The issue is when does it become permitted to eat the etrog?
According to R. Yohanan one must wait until the end of the seventh day to eat the etrog. This is because he holds that it was “set aside” (a form of muktzeh) for the whole day. One is not allowed to make other use (such askindling) of the material used to build the sukkah until the eighth day is over. This should seem a bit perplexing for the moment because one does not dwell in the sukkah on the eighth day (Shemini Atzeret). Below, the Talmud will explain why it is nevertheless forbidden on the eighth day.
Resh Lakish holds that once the mitzvah has been performed on the morning of the seventh day, the etrog is no longer muktzeh, set aside. Now one may eat it.
Resh Lakish uses the mishnah as a difficulty on R. Yohanan. In the mishnah we learn that as soon as the aravah ritual is over, the children would eat their etrogim. Resh Lakish assumes that while it states that children ate them, adults would be allowed to do so as well. This implies that the etrog is permitted already on the seventh day.
.The Talmud rejects this difficulty by saying it was specifically the children who ate them—adults who are obligated to observe the commandments did not do so.
This section is basically a mirror image of above. Here the mishnah is a difficulty on Resh Lakish because it implies that only children can eat the etrog, adults cannot.
Resh Lakish responds that adults too could eat their etrogim. The reason that the mishnah mentions children is that this is simply what happened. I should note that this is clearly the simpler reading of the mishnah. Children are the ones that ate the etrogim because it was a fun way of celebrating the completion of the ritual. They did not do it because adults were forbidden from doing so.
R. Papa asks Abaye why there is a difference between the sukkah and the etrog—after all neither are used on the eighth day. The answer is that one might come to sit in the sukkah for a meal at the very end of the seventh day, at twilight. This is the time that the status of an object is determined for the following day. This means that since the sukkah was set aside for its ritual purpose at twilight, it is also set aside for the entire following day.
But the etrog cannot be taken at twilight at the end of the seventh day. By this point, since twilight might be the beginning of the eighth day, it would be too late to fulfill the mitzvah of the lulav and etrog. Therefore, it is not set aside for its ritual purpose at twilight and it can be used as soon as the seventh day is over.
The amoraim in this section argue over whether an etrog is forbidden on the eighth day. According to Levi even on the eighth day it is still forbidden. Shmuel’s father at first disagrees, but then when he hears Levi’s opinion, he adopts Levi’s view.
But the passage ends with R. Zera’s opinion that after the seventh day one may eat the etrog. R. Zera also states that even though the etrog was invalid and couldn’t be ritually used, one still can’t make use of it during the seven days of Sukkot. Once it was set aside for use at the beginning of the holiday, it is forbidden for the whole holiday, even if it was invalidated during the holiday.
This section continues to discuss the laws of the lulav and etrog.
R. Zera says one shouldn’t transfer the hoshana (the Aramaic word for lulav) to a child during Sukkot. The problem is that the child will take ownership over the lulav but then he won’t be able to transfer it back to the original owner. Generally children are legally able to acquire but not to transfer to other. When he gets the lulav back it will turn out that the lulav didn’t belong to him when he uses it to fulfill his obligation. As we have learned, one must use one’s own lulav at least on the first day of the festival.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’ve ever tried to do this to your children, then you know what a rotten thing it is to do. I should confess that I once tried this with my daughter when she refused to take a bath (I was truly desparate). I told her that I would give her ice cream afterwards, and then I didn’t. I hope she forgives me when she gets older. And I never did that again.
The Talmud now correlates the following dispute with the earlier dispute concerning whether one may eat the etrog on the seventh day. A person sets aside seven etrogim, one for each day. Rav said that once he has fulfilled the mitzvah, he can eat the etrog immediately. This is like Resh Lakish who said that one can eat the etrog on the seventh day because it was set aside only for its mitzvah. R. Assi rules that he must wait till the next day. This correlates with R. Yohanan who said that in general one must not eat the etrog until the eighth day. It was set aside for the whole day.
This section deals with the Diaspora where there is an extra day of the festival (Second Day of Yom Tov). The eighth day may be the seventh day or it may be the eighth day; they didn’t know because there was no set calendar. But this day is observed as Shemini Atzeret. Abaye says one may still not use the etrog on this day, for it may be the seventh day. But on the ninth day, which may be the eighth day, one can definitely eat the etrog.
Meremar is more lenient and allows one to eat the etrog even on the eighth day. This is probably because Jews didn’t actually take the lulav on this day.
The halakhah though is in accordance with Abaye who prohibits one from eating the etrog on the eighth day in the Diaspora.
This sugya talks about the status of the eighth day of Sukkot, known as Shemini Atzeret, in the Diaspora, where this day may indeed be the seventh day of Sukkot.
According to Rav, in the Diaspora one must sit in the sukkah on the eighth day of Sukkot, because it might actually be the seventh day, on which one is certainly obligated to sit in the sukkah. However, as far as the blessing goes, meaning does one say “Shemini Atzeret” or “Sukkot” during Kiddush, the Amidah and Birkat Hamazon, it is treated as the eighth day and one says Shemini Atzeret.
R. Yohanan says that it is treated as the eighth day for both the sukkah and the blessing.
The Talmud now explains that both amoraim hold that one sits in the sukkah on the eighth day—the debate is whether one also recites the blessing over sitting in the sukkah. According to R. Yohanan one does not, while Rav says that one does.