Rabbah b. Bar Hana matches the opinion of R. Judah from this mishnah in Eruvin with R. Yose in our mishnah from Sukkah. Both hold the abstract concept that a hanging partition validates. R. Judah spoke about a hanging partition above the cistern, which allowed both courtyards to draw water on Shabbat. R. Yose spoke about the wall of the sukkah suspended from above. It validated the sukkah.
At the end of yesterday’s section Rabbah b. Rav Hannah said that R. Judah’s opinion from Mishnah Eruvin accorded completely with R. Yose’s opinion from Mishnah Sukkah. The Talmud now says that neither tanna (mishnaic sage) agrees with the other.
R. Judah disagrees with R. Yose who allows the hanging partition in the sukkah because a sukkah is a toraitic commandment. Therefore, we need to be strict. In contrast, the use of an eruv for a courtyard is only of rabbinic origin, therefore R. Judah can rule leniently and allow a hanging partition.
R. Yose allows one to hang a partition in a sukkah because a sukkah is “only” a positive commandment. In contrast, transgressing Shabbat is punishable by stoning, which the rabbis consider to be the most severe form of the death penalty. Therefore, R. Yose disagrees with R. Judah and doesn’t allow using a hanging partition to divide the cistern shared by the two courtyards.
This section shows a typical rabbinic hierarchy of commandments. Positive commandments (sukkah, lulav, mezuzah, etc) are considered to be lighter than negative commandments (Shabbat, adultery, idol worship, etc.). Therefore, rules that apply to the sukkah will not necessarily apply to Shabbat.
This is a continuation of yesterday’s section concerning the validity of hanging partitions.
The Talmud now refers to an incident that occurred in Tzippori. R. Yose was no longer alive when the incident occurred so, the Talmud wonders, whom did they ask. The answer is R. Yose’s own son, R. Yishmael son of R. Yose.
R. Dimi comes to Babylonia and tells the story of forgetting to bring a Torah scroll to a certain synagogue on Shabbat. It seems that the Torah scroll was in an adjacent courtyard and they needed to carry it from one courtyard to the other, but they hadn’t set up an appropriate eruv (actually, in this case it’s called a “shituf” which allows one to carry from one courtyard to another in the same alleyway) before Shabbat (an eruv/shituf is a shared meal that allows one to carry from one courtyard to another). To remedy the problem they took sheets that were already spread over pillars and hung them down. Despite the fact that these sheets didn’t reach all the way to the ground, they counted as partitions for R. Yose and his son hold that hanging partitions are valid.
Since using matting as skhakh was mentioned earlier on this daf, the Talmud now discusses using matting as a wall for a Sukkah. Note that the question here is not about the material—any material is valid as a wall. The question is about size and position.
One can use a four handbreadth wide mat as a wall by suspending it in the middle of a ten handbreadth space, the minimum size of a sukkah wall. This allows us to invoke the principle of “lavud” which states that a space less than three handbreadths is nullified. The mat is considered next to the ground and next to the top by being three handbreadths away from each.
The Talmud explains the innovation is R. Hisda’s statement. You might have thought that one can invoke the principle of “lavud” only once, either at the bottom or at the top. R. Hisda lets us know that you can invoke it both times, to fictionally consider the wall as reaching the bottom and fictionally reaching the top as well.
According to this baraita, the matting must be seven handbreadths, which implies that you could invoke the principle of “lavud” only once. A four handbreadth mat would not be sufficient.
The Talmud resolves that this baraita does not refer to a wall used for a minimum size sukkah. Rather it refers to a wall used for a larger sukkah. The seven handbreadth mat is hung within three handbreadths of the top of the sukkah, thereby creating a fictitious ten handbreadths wall. It need not go all the way to the bottom of the sukkah, because this baraita follows the opinion of R. Yose who allows hanging partitions.
R. Ammi allows one to use a four handbreadth board as a wall as long as he puts it three handbreadths away from the adjacent wall. This allows us to invoke the principle of “lavud” to achieve the requisite seven handbreadth wall.
The Talmud asks what new thing R. Ammi teaches us. In the Talmud’s opinion we have already learned the principle of “lavud” on several occasions. We don’t need another example from R. Ammi. The answer is that R. Ammi teaches us that the minimum size of a sukkah is seven handbreadths.