The Talmud now searches for the original context of R. Hanan’s statement. It was made in the context of Mishnah Kelim 18:9. According to R. Eliezer a bed can become impure when it is assembled and if unassembled it cannot be purified again in a mikveh until it is reassembled.
The sages say it can be made unclean when unassembled and purified when unassembled.
R. Hanan explains the sages’ opinion from the mishnah. The bed can become impure and be purified when the parts into which it has become disassembled are still usable. This, according to R. Hanan is the long board with two legs or the short board with two legs. Both of these are usable by propping up one side on the wall and then forming a bed by weaving ropes between the long or short board and the wall. Note that I have explained this Talmud without the words “and sitting upon it.” The Talmud describes one way of using these boards with their legs, not two.
Our daf begins by discussing a statement cited on the previous daf concerning the use of worn out vessels (clothing) as skkakh.
R. Ammi doesn’t allow one to use worn out discarded vessels as skhakh. We should note that this is true even if they follow the other rules governing skhakh. The cloth is from a plant so this is something that grew from the ground and is no longer attached to the ground. Second, discarded vessels are no longer susceptible to impurity. Nevertheless, they can’t be used as skhakh.
Abaye explains that these discarded vessels are small pieces of cloth, so small that even poor people wouldn’t use them. Anything larger than that cannot be used for skhakh because it is susceptible to impurity.
The Talmud now cites a baraita that agrees with R. Ammi b. Tavyomi. However, the agreement is subtle. The baraita says that matting made of reed or rushes can never be used for skhakh. Since this matting was once a vessel, it can never be used for skhakh even if it is now smaller than the minimum measure.
However, a large mat of reeds was never made to be a vessel. We can assume that such a mat was made for skhakh from the outset. A small mat of reeds may have been made for sitting or lying upon. Since it is a vessel it cannot be used for skhakh.
R. Eliezer says that a large mat made of reeds may also have been made for sitting or lying upon and therefore it too may not be used as skhakh.
Today’s sugya deals with the next clause in the mishnah, concerning one who hollows out a haystack to make a sukkah. Is such a sukkah always disqualified?
R. Huna says that the sukkah is invalid only if there is not an empty space of at least one handbreadth high by seven handbreadths wide. But if the empty space is of this minimum size, the sukkah is valid because it is wide enough.
The Talmud finds support for R. Huna’s position in the contradiction between a baraita that says that such a sukkah is valid and the mishnah says that it is not a valid sukkah. The resolution is that the baraita refers to a case where the empty space is one handbreadth by seven handbreadths whereas the mishnah refers to a case without such an empty space.
This section is the same as the previous one just structured differently. This section begins by noting the contradiction between the baraita and the mishnah. R. Huna’s statement resolves this difficulty. This is different from the previous version where R. Huna’s statement was independently corroborated by the baraita and the mishnah.
Today’s section starts with another new mishnah.
The walls of the sukkah must be ten handbreadths high. However, there is a special rule according to which a gap of less than three handbreadths is not considered sufficient to render a sukkah invalid. Therefore, if he suspends the walls on a pole above the ground and the walls do not fully reach the ground but they are less than three handbreadths from the ground, the sukkah is valid. In other words, we look at those three handbreadths as if they don’t exist. Of course, the total height of the walls must be ten handbreadths, as we learn in the next section. But if the gap is larger than three handbreadths, then we can’t count the walls as having reached the ground.
If he raises the walls from the ground upwards, the walls do not have to go all the way up to reach the skhakh. It is sufficient for the walls to be ten handbreadths high, when measured from the ground. Ten handbreadths is about one meter high. This is the standard minimum height for matters which require a wall.
Rabbi Yose disagrees with the opinion in section one. He says that the same rule concerning raising the walls from the floor to the skhakh applies if he suspends the walls from the skhakh. As long as the walls are ten handbreadths they are valid, even if they don’t reach within three handbreadths of the ground. To reiterate: the debate between Rabbi Yose and the other sages is with regard to a ten handbreadth wall hanging down from the skhakh (assumedly from a pole upon which the skhakh rests) which does not reach to within three handbreadths of the ground. Rabbi Yose says this is valid whereas the other sages say it is not. According to the sages it must reach within three handbreadths of the ground.
The first opinion in the mishnah holds that a hanging partition, one that doesn’t reach within three handbreadths of the ground, does not render the sukkah valid. R. Yose holds that it does. This is the Talmud’s way of basically creating an abstract principle from the concrete debate in the mishnah. It is also the way of segueing to the next section, where we will see tannaim who dispute the same issue.
The Talmud now cites Mishnah Eruvin 8:6. My interpretation here is taken from my mishnah commentary.
Without a partition, it is forbidden for residents of either courtyard to draw from the cistern on Shabbat, since it belongs partly to other people, since half of the cistern is in other people’s domains. The only way that both sides can use the cistern on Shabat is if they make a special partition, more than just the wall that separates the two courtyards. According to the first opinion in the mishnah, it doesn’t matter whether or not the partition is above or below the water, it is effective. In the Talmud, Rav Judah explains that “below the water” means that most of the partition is below the water, whereas “above the water” means that most of the partition is above the water, but there is at least some partition, at least one handbreadth, in the water.
According to Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel, this question was debated by Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai. Bet Shammai holds that the partition must be below the water, a more stringent position. The partition must actually divide the water between the two courtyards so that the residents of different courtyards are not really sharing any of the water. In contrast, Bet Hillel is lenient and allows the partition to be above or below the water. The anonymous opinion in section one was according to Bet Hillel.
According to Rabbi Judah, the wall that separates the two courtyards is sufficient in and of itself to allow the residents of both courtyards to draw from the cistern. The wall which is above the cistern is fictionally drawn down through the cistern and is considered as if it divides the cistern in half, even if in reality it does not.