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Blazing Sukkahs

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Topic: Disposal of Former Succah Wood

Jeff Marder wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Recently I cleaned out the garage, and I found lumber that was once used to build our Sukkah. I no longer use this wood for creating such a 'Sacred Space.' May I burn these boards in our fireplace?

Dear Jeff,

In general, 'mitzvah objects' may be disposed of when you're done with them. Nevertheless, they should be treated with dignity - they shouldn't be stepped on or thrown in the garbage.

Burning, however, is not considered a disgrace to a mitzvah. So burning sukkah wood - the walls and the roof - is a perfect way to dispose of it. Just be careful.

There are a number of exceptions to this rule - e.g., Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot. They have special sanctity and should not be burned. Rather they should be buried (geniza).

Ideally, once you use an object for a mitzvah you should try to use it for another mitzvah. For example, you should use a torn tzitzit string as a bookmark when you study Torah!

So use your sukkah wood to burn your chametz, or burn it in you fireplace for oneg Shabbat (Shabbat enjoyment).

Here's a true story that's hard to imagine happening anywhere else but here in Israel. I was once walking to Yeshiva when I passed a garbage truck moving slowly down the street. The garbage man standing in back of the truck was trying to get my attention. Then I noticed he was holding something long and black in his outstretched arm, and he was motioning for me to take it. "Burnt spaghetti?" I wondered. I reached out and took it. It was a tefillin strap. "This shouldn't be in the garbage," said the garbage man. "You'll know what to do with it..."
  • Tractate Megillah 26b
  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 21:1
  • Mishna Berurah ibid. 6 ,8 & 9 and 638:24
  • Aruch Hashulchan 638:12, Bekurei Yaakov 638:18

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