ל׳ באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ד (March 2, 2014)

Sukka 27a-b: Eating in the Sukka

Mishna: Rabbi Eliezer says: A person is obligated to eat fourteen meals in the sukka over the course of the seven days of the festival of Sukkot, one during the day each day and one at night each night. And the Rabbis say: There is no quota for the number of meals, and one may choose whether or not to eat any of the meals except for the meal on the evening of the first Festival day of Sukkot, which one is required to eat in the sukka.

Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was also known as Rabbi Eliezer ha-Gadol. He lived during the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and in the period following the destruction. Although Rabbi Eliezer came from a wealthy family that could trace its roots back to Moshe Rabbeinu, he did not begin to study Torah until he was 20 years old, when he traveled to Jerusalem to study with Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai. Rabbi Eliezer so impressed his teacher that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai considered him to be the best of all his students and, indeed, the equal of all . His knowledge and leadership abilities were already recognized before the destruction of the Temple, and he is one of the Sages who established the great in Yavneh together with Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai after the destruction.

We find recorded in Pirkei Avot that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai described Rabbi Eliezer as a “well plastered cistern that never loses a drop of water,” whose teachings were based almost entirely on traditions that he received from his teachers. Nevertheless, we find that, in contrast to his teachers and peers, Rabbi Eliezer was inclined to follow the opinions of Beit Shammai.

Rabbi Akiva was his main student, although virtually all of the Sages of that generation learned from him. His own son, Hyrcanus, was accepted as one of the leading Sages of his generation.

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