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How to Sleep in the Sukkah

September 29, 2020 | by Mordechai Schmutter

With a little preparation and the right kind of weapon, anyone can sleep in the sukkah!

During the holiday of Sukkot we eat in our sukkahs. But what about sleeping in the sukkah? Many rabbis say that if we can, then we should, but most of us have excuses. Never mind that we can cheerfully fall asleep pretty much anywhere – the living room, the dining room, cars, public transportation…

And there’s no way that what wakes you up sniffing next to you in a sukkah is going to be any worse than what will wake you up on the subway.

A lot of people are afraid to sleep in the sukkah, but it turns out that with a little bit of preparation and the right supplies and some kind of weapon, anyone can do it! Except for my wife.

That said, if you tend to sleepwalk, sleeping in a sukkah might not be for you.

But here are some tips that will not only help make your sukkah-sleeping experience rewarding, but you can also sleep with it to help you feel safe:

-Don’t sleep on the floor. Adults do not sleep on the floor and then get up to have productive days without some kind of back spasm. Either drag a mattress out there or sleep on one of those beds that gradually folds on you in middle of the night.

- Invite lots of guests for Yom Tov. (“Come to our house! It’ll be great! You can sleep on the porch with me.”) One of the benefits to sleeping in your sukkah is that it allows you to have more guests for Sukkos than your house can physically sleep. Until it rains. If that happens, and there’s no room in the house for the people who were supposed to sleep in the Sukkah, you have to put up a tarp and then stay awake all night watching parts of your sukkah roof sag.

- Another nice thing about sleeping in the Sukkah is that if it’s dark enough, you can lie on your back and look up at the stars and listen to the crickets snore. If you can’t see the stars, that probably means it’s going to rain. Or that you’re under the table.

-The best way to guarantee that it will rain is to sleep in a sukkah.

- Be aware that if it rains in middle of the night, it will probably take you at least a full minute to realize what that means for you. The water wakes you up, and you go, “Oh, it’s raining.” Then it keeps raining on your face, and you think, “Wait… Oh, that means I have to get up.” And then you dart out of bed and run inside miraculously carrying your mattress, your bedding, AND all your stuff in one trip.

- Don’t bring your good linens out there. Bring your daughter’s old flowery princess ones or something.

- Really, there’s no such thing as a sukkah that’s too small to sleep in. You’re supposed to live in a sukkah as if you’re living in your house, which means probably falling asleep at the Yom Tov table. If you can bring pillows to the table on Pesach, there’s no reason you can’t bring them on Sukkot.

- If you need to keep mosquitoes away, convince the kids to sleep out there with you. Mosquitoes always go for the kids first.

- Make it fun for them. Make it into a campout or something. You can sit around and tell spooky stories until you hear noises outside the sukkah, at which point you will all climb into the same sleeping bag upside down.

- The correct age for sleeping in a sukkah is “Big Enough to Grab Their Own Mattress and Run into the House Because You Are NOT Coming Back Out in Your Pajamas in the Rain to Get Them.”

-If your sukkah is such that nocturnal animals can hypothetically come in, make sure to sweep the sukkah thoroughly before the lights go out. And if you didn’t sweep, definitely don’t sleep on the floor. You’re going to wake up with a back full of challah crumbs, and an animal trying to decide whether it’s worth waking you up to get to them.

- If you’re nervous about sleeping in a cloth sukkah, you can always tell yourself that the only animals that can fit in are the ones that fit under the flaps – like raccoons, and skunks, and small goats. Plus any bears that can figure out the zipper.

- If you think there’s a large animal outside trying to get in, have everyone lift a corner of the sukkah and then take off down the block.

- If you wake up to see a skunk sniffing around you in the dark, don’t panic. Don’t scream, “Skunk!” He already knows he’s a skunk. If you do that, you’re going to have a sukkah full of skunk stink that won’t dissipate until you reopen the storm window.

-Also, if you’re in an area with a lot of sukkahs, yelling, “Skunk!” will make everyone on the block panic. You will literally see entire sukkahs picking themselves up and running into each other with legs sticking out underneath.

- If you live in bear country, don’t grill meat near your sukkah. (“Bear country” is any country with bears in it.)

- Also don’t store honey in your sukkah.

- Also, if you live in a region with pandas, your bamboo schach might be a problem. So make sure to trim those trees around your sukkah if you don’t want pandas landing on you from above.

- If you’re sleeping in a sukkah on Chol Hamoed, carry a firearm. One shot in the air will scare away most animals, as well as put out a light if you forgot to do so before getting into your sleeping bag.

- Another way to stay off the floor is to fill your air mattress with helium.

- Make sure you have a spare key to the house in case your wife “accidentally” locks you out.

And as far as waking up, you’ll probably wake up as the sun rises, which is a highly-recommended way to wake up. If there’s no sun, that means it will rain, and that will wake you up as well. And if it’s neither, you can always set the alarm clock in your bedroom so it wakes your wife and she dumps water on you from the upstairs window.

If nothing else, that will scare away the opossum.

Or get it to freeze in place.

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