This daf begins with a new mishnah.
The Talmud will explore what a “disarranged” (meduvlelet in Hebrew) sukkah is and how this relates to the second clause “whose shade is more than its sun.”
The second clause is sometimes surprising to people who think that one must be able to see the stars through the skhakh. While this is desirable, a sukkah is valid even if one cannot see the stars.
Rav says that “disarranged” or in Hebrew מדובללת means that the skhakh is thin or poor. Despite this, it is still valid.
Shmuel says that its reeds are all disheveled, some are on one level while some are on another.
The Talmud now explains how each of these amoraim reads the mishnah’s two clauses. Rav reads the mishnah as if the second clause explains the first. “Meduvlelet,” which is a strange and unusual word, is read by Rav as if it says “meduldelet” which comes from the word “dal” meaning poor. Such a sukkah has “poor” or thin skhakh but it is still kosher as long as there is more shade than sun, a rule we saw in the beginning of the tractate. We should also note that this accords with the end of the mishnah—the first clause says that the sukkah is kosher even if the skhakh is really thin and the second clause says that the sukkah is kosher even if the skhakh is really thick.
Shmuel teaches the mishnah as two separate clauses. The first clause teaches that a sukkah whose reeds are disheveled is valid. The second clause is totally separate. It teaches that if the shade is greater than the sun, it is valid.
In today’s section Abaye and Rava debate the applicability of Shmuel’s interpretation of the mishnah—a disarranged sukkah, whose reeds are at different heights is still valid.
Abaye says that Shmuel allows a disheveled sukkah only if the reeds are not separated by more than three handbreadths. But if some are above and some are below and there are three handbreadths separating them, the sukkah is not valid.
Rava says that if the upper reed is one handbreadth wide we can invoke a legal fiction called, “beat and throw it down” and thereby imagine it joining the lower reeds, even if they are separated by more than three handbreadths. The upcoming sections will explore where this principle comes from and how it is used. Basically it allows us to imagine that things that are up above, are actually below.
However, if the upper reed is thinner than a handbreadth, we cannot invoke this principle because, as Rashi explains, less than handbreadth cannot be a “tent” in rabbinic literature.
In yesterday’s section Rava said that if the upper reeds of the skhakh are at least a handbreadth they can be fictitiously considered to be lower and join with the lower reeds to form valid skhakh. Today Rava brings a tannaitic source for this opinion.
To prove his point, that if the upper reed is a handbreadth we can invoke the principle of “beat and throw it down” and if it less than a handbreadth than we cannot, Rava quotes a mishnah from Ohalot 12:5. Below is my interpretation of that mishnah from Mishnah Yomit. Tractate Ohalot is all about “overshadowing”—the concept that if something overshadows a dead body and piece thereof, the impurity of the corpse spreads to the other objects that are also overshadowed.
Section one: In the first scenario, the upper roof beams are precisely above the lower ones. If there is uncleanness beneath one of the beams of the house, anything below it is impure because it forms an ohel (a tent). However, the beam also prevents the impurity from spreading to the area above it. And the impurity doesn’t spread to anywhere else in the house because there is nothing overshadowing the spaces in between the beams.
If the impurity is on top of the lower beam and below the upper beam, it remains in this area.
If it is above one of the upper beam then the impurity only travels upwards.
Section two: In this case the upper and lower roof beams are not lined up. Rather the upper beams are spaced right in between the lower beams.
If there is impurity underneath one of them, then it spreads to the area underneath all of them, as if there was only one roof. In other words, we look at the upper beams as if they had been lowered to a level equal to the bottom beams.
If the impurity is found above any of the beams, it is not in any ohel, and therefore it only defiles that which is found directly above it.
The first part of this quote is a baraita taught on the mishnah from Ohalot. In section two the mishnah said that we can look at the upper beams as if they had been lowered to a level equal to the bottom beams. The baraita says that this is true only if the beams are each a handbreadth wide and there is a gap of at least one handbreadth between the upper and lower ones. Rava attributes this is to the principle “beat and throw it down.” Thus the principle is evoked only if the beams are at least one handbreadth wide, the same rule that he applies to the disarranged sukkah.
This section continues to deal with the concept of “beat it and throw it down” which allows us to consider the upper reeds of the skhakh as if they were next to the lower ones.
Rav Kahana, a sage who lived a generation after Rava, is sitting and reciting the statement of Rava. Rav Ashi, his student, hears him and tries to prove that Rava’s rule is incorrect—we can apply the principle of “beat and throw down” even if the object is not a handbreadth wide. He now cites a long baraita dealing with the beams used to make an eruv. As a reminder, to allow one to carry within a courtyard, part of what one had to do was lay a beam across the entryway to the courtyard. The baraita that Rav Ashi cites deals with this beam. To make it easier I will divide the baraita into sections and refer to it in the translation and explanation using these sections.