A few Halachos pertaining to building a Sukkah:
– One must first build the walls and then place the s’chach. Placing the s’chach first and then building the walls would invalidate the Sukkah.
– One must make sure there is no overhang (roof, leaves, etc.) over the s’chach. Any overhang invalidates the s’chach directly underneath.
– Ideally, one should not rest the s’chach directly on something that cannot be used as s’chach. Therefore, one should not place their s’chach directly on metal beams. Rather, they should place wooden beams over the metal ones and then lay the s’chach on top. Similarly, one should not tie their s’chach down with any material that cannot be used as s’chach (such as string or rope). One can usually get their s’chach to stay put by placing a piece of wood over the s’chach.
– S’chach must be heavy/ secure enough to be able to withstand a normal wind.
– If one needs to, they may tie their Sukkah down with a material that is 100% natural and unprocessed.
There is a Mitzvah to decorate one’s Sukkah.
One Sukkos begins the Mitzvah is to treat the Sukkah like one’s home. This includes eating and sleeping.
Technically speaking, it is only when one eats bread or foods made of grains that one must eat in the Sukkah. It is ideal to eat everything in the Sukkah.
In terms of sleeping some are lenient not to sleep due to the weather, to keep a spouse company, or if they don’t feel safe. Again, ideally a person should sleep in the Sukkah.
One should light Yom Tov/ Shabbos candles in the Sukkah unless they are concerned of them blowing out or of a fire. In such cases, it would be better to light the candles in one’s home.
When eating bread or food made of grains in the Sukkah one makes the following blessing: Baruch Ata… Asher Kid’shanu b’mitzvososv v’tzivanu leisheiv basukkah. This blessing is only said if one’s eats of the food in a portion the the size of an egg or larger.
When making Havdallah there are differing opinions aboutmaking this blessing. One should eat some food afterwards that would necessitate the blessing to fulfill all opinions.
If one forgot to make the blessing one can make it during the meal. Even if one remembers after they finish saying Birkas HaMazon one can still say the blessing but they should remain in the Sukkah for a few moments afterwards.
Rain in the Sukkah:
If it is raining hard enough that it could be felt through the Sukkah a person is exempt from eating in the Sukkah. It is actually forbidden to say the blessing of sitting in the Sukkah when it is raining.
If a person left the Sukkah because of rain and already sat down to eat and then the rain stopped they do not have to go back to the Sukkah.
When it rains on the first night:
The laws of rain in the Sukkah on the first night are different than other nights. On the first night one should wait for a while before eating in one’s home. Ideally, one should wait up until an hour (if that is not practical due to young children or very hungry people then one need not wait that long). If it is still raining, one should make kiddush in the sukkah without the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah. They should also eat a small portion of bread in the Sukkah and then finish the rest of the meal in one’s home.