The Rav’s P’sak: Can Maaser Be Used To Buy An AC For The Sukkah?

Photos: HaGaon HaRav Zilberstein; Building a sukkah. (Shuki Lehrer)

Several avreichim sent a shaila to HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein regarding the often hot weather on Sukkos [especially in Bnei Brak], which can make it difficult to sit comfortably in the sukkah for long periods of time.

The avreichim wanted to know whether they were required to invest in an air conditioner for the sukkah. Rav Zilberstein responded that an air conditioner in the sukkah is a very important thing and anyone who can install one is praiseworthy as he is being mekayeim mitzvas Sukkah b’hiddur as well as ‘תשבו כעין תדורו.’

“Since today we’re used to living in a home with air conditioning and sitting in the sukkah without an air conditioner is sometimes very burdensome and can cause people to be ‘מצטער,'” Rav Zilberstein said. “Therefore, there’s a very great inyan to buy an air conditioner in order that sitting in the sukkah is pleasant and doesn’t cause tza’ar.”

However, HaRav Zilberstein emphasized, it is not a chiyuv gamur because one who has tza’ar due to cold temperatures – the din is that he is exempt from sleeping in the sukkah, although he could sleep there with blankets or bring in a heater – but we don’t find that there is a chiyuv to do so. But it’s definitely appropriate for one to do all he can in order to fulfill the mitzvah of sukkah k’halacha in a way that he’s comfortable there.

HaRav Zilberstein added another point – that if someone sits in the sukkah without air conditioning, he may speak negatively about Eretz Yisrael – like it says in the Gemara in Masechtas Kesuvos on Amoraim who would move from the sun to the shade in order not to speak negatively about Eretz Yisrael, that the weather is hot there.

Regarding the question of whether maaser money can be used to buy an air conditioner for the sukkah – HaRav Zilberstein said that it’s not allowed – because although things that provide physical pleasure can be a mitzvah, but masser money is not designated for that purpose. “But nevertheless, it’s appropriate to minimize other purchases for Yom Tov in order to purchase an air conditioner for the Sukkah,” HaRav Zilberstein concluded.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)