As the article notes,
The Samaritans, thought to be descendants of Jews who were not sent into exile when the Assyrians conquered the land in the eighth century BCE, erect their sukkot inside their homes, with no separate walls, decorating the tops with all sorts of seasonal fruit, especially the Four Species that mainstream Jews shake during the holiday.Some of the practice may be attributed to the fact that Samaritans do not accept the Oral Law, and thus will often interpret pesukim differently than we do. Thus, they are decorating the to
They make the roof of the Succah out of local seasonal fruits. This likely stems from interpreting velakachtem lachem as referring to the construction material for the schach, rather than as a mitzvah of Netilat Lulav.
Another aspect developed for another reason. Note they are building their Succah indoors, within their house. This is not due to some alternate intepretation of a pasuk, but rather because the outdoor Succah brought the wrath of local Arabs. See the article for more details.
What of this strange practice, of making a Succah from local produce?
Devarim 16:13 states:
|יג חַג הַסֻּכֹּת תַּעֲשֶׂה לְךָ, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים: בְּאָסְפְּךָ--מִגָּרְנְךָ, וּמִיִּקְבֶךָ.||13 Thou shalt keep the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in from thy threshing-floor and from thy winepress.|
Meanwhile, a pasuk in Vayikra 23 states:
pashut peshat in the pasuk is exactly what we do, waving the lulav bundle (perhaps just as earlier in the perek there was an omer hatenufa).
However, perhaps one could interpret this as taking this produce for the purpose of building the succah.
The twist here is in Nechemiah 8:15, when they make a Succot festival.
goren and yekev, such that also oil pressings would be included?
At any rate, it would certainly seem at first glance that they are interpreting the pesukim in Vayikra to mean taking this produce to make the walls or the schach, with velakachtem in Vayikra being expressed by וְהָבִיאוּ.
Three ready answers:
3) To make "sukkot" means to make the festival of succot, the chag hasukkot, rather than the physical structures.
2) Just as we say by other instances, a Navi paskening halacha only has the status of a talmid chacham but not that of a Navi. And if they interpret pesukim that way, fine, but we have Tannaim who are batrai who interpreted the pesukim differently.
3) This is difficult to say, given that Ezra is supposed to be the scribe teaching all of Israel, but the pasuk 15 states וַיִּמְצְאוּ, כָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה. If we read this together with a literal reading of the later declaration that they had not had such a sukkot since the days of Yehoshua bin Nun (pasuk 17), then we could just they that they were simply ignorant, and did not know the correct interpretation of the pasuk.
Here is how Rashi interprets that pasuk in Nechemiah:
15. And that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain and bring olive leaves and leaves of oil trees, myrtle leaves, date palm leaves, and leaves of plaited trees, to make booths, as it is written."
Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.'
וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת: לַעֲשֹׂת סֻכֹּת, כַּכָּתוּב
And Rashi's comments:
And that they should announce And they commanded that they announce that they celebrate the Festival of Sukkoth, and so it is customary for Scripture to speak in this manner, like (I Sam. 9:27): “Tell the servant and he will go ahead of us.”
myrtle leaves וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס -- It is explained in Tractate Succah (12a) that this is a wild myrtle which is unfit for the lulav and only fit to make a sukkah.
date palm וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים -- leaves for a lulav.
and leaves of plaited trees וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת -- This is the myrtle that is fit for the lulav as is explained in Tractate Succah (ad loc.).
That gemara in Succah is here. The objection is that וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת is understood to be hadas, but the pasuk in Nechemiah already mentioned וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס. So one is therefore the עלי הדס.
But is that all that Rashi is doing here? Explaining the seeming repetition of myrtle? Or by lelulav וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים, for "for a lulav," and "myrtle fit for a lulav," is he stating some sort of dual role -- some of these items for a lulav, and some of these items for the sechach? It seems quite possible, in my estimation. But the one who suggests this dual role is Metzudat David. See inside for this, and for how he parses the pasuk.
Here is a link to the relevant page in a Mikraos Gedolos of Nechemiah. And the relevant meforshim are pictured to the right. Clicking on the picture will make it bigger and thus more readable.
So what now? Since the Samaritans have followed a literalist interpretation of the pesukim, I feel the urge to come out saying that we should avoid using these items for schach, not because they would be invalid for schach, but rather kedei lehotzi milibam shel Tzedukim.
Except I do not think there really is that much danger of us being drawn after the Samaritans in this day and age. On the other hand, Neo-Literalism and rejection of Chazal might be on the rise.
I would note that the article notes (about a different picture, not shown even there):
Two residents of Mea Shearim, below, drag palm tree branches to line the top of their sukkah.Indeed, my year in Israel, in Har Nof, I recall dragging large palm branches to cover the Succah. And in Nechemiah, perhaps we are reading (or perhaps not) this that they used hadasim to cover their Succah, and maybe others of the arba minim as well. And a few weeks ago, I was reading in the sefer of Minhagim of the Maharil about how they covered their Succot in Aravot, which the children would burn in festivities at the end of Succot. So it is difficult to suggest this seriously. I don't know. But an interesting topic, nonetheless.
Note: Not intended halacha lemaaseh.