The first resolution is offered by Rabbah b. Adda. He says that the sukkah was built of many recesses. Thus it was a 20 cubit sukkah, and the recess in which she sat was small, but a queen might sit in such a sukkah.
The gemara still doesn’t buy it. Would a queen sit in a small sukkah with many recesses.
R. Ashi refines Rabbah bar Addah’s resolution. She was sitting in one of the recesses in the sukkah, evidently a sukkah fitting for a queen.
The rabbis who argued with R. Judah held that her sons were sitting in a larger section, while she was in the smaller invalid section. Therefore it was okay for her sukkah to be more than 20 cubits high—she didn’t need to be in any sukkah. The sons’ sukkah was broader in which case even a 20 cubit high sukkah is valid. That’s why the sages in the story did not say anything to her. R. Judah holds that her sons were with her, in the small section of the sukkah and nevertheless, the sages in the story said nothing to her. Thus there is conclusive proof that a sukkah may be more than 20 cubits high, even if it is narrow.
This week’s daf begins with an amora issuing a halakhic ruling with regard to the minimum breadth and width of a sukkah.
R. Shmuel b. Isaac, an amora (person who lived in the Talmudic period) rules that for a sukkah to be valid it must be able to hold his head, the greater part of his body and his table. We should remember that back then tables were like our trays. They were small and used by one or two people. His legs could be out of the sukkah, and he doesn’t need to be able to stand in the sukkah. He should be able to sit in it and eat and then lay down.
R. Abba is perplexed by this ruling for it accords with Bet Shammai, as we will see later on in this page. Usually sages do not rule according to Bet Shammai; they rule according to Bet Hillel.
There are basically two versions of R. Shmuel bar Isaac’s response. In the first he rhetorically says, “According to whom else?” In others words, obviously I am ruling according to Bet Shammai.
In the second version R. Shmuel bar Isaac himself says that the source is Bet Shammai but that one shouldn’t “budge from this position.” In other words, in this case we do rule that the halakhah is like Bet Shammai.
Today a sukkah must be at least 7 handbreadths by 7 handbreadths. Since 10 handbreadths are basically a meter, it needs to be about 70 cm broad and wide. I doubt many of us have ever been in a sukkah this small!
Yesterday we learned that according to R. Shmuel b. Yitzchak, Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel disagree about the minimum size of a sukkah. R. Shmuel rules like Bet Shammai, that the sukkah must be at least large enough to hold his head, most of his body and his table. Today, an amora challenges R. Shmuel bar Yitzchak’s statement.
According to R. Nahman b. Yitzchak (perhaps R. Shmuel’s own brother) Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel both might agree that a sukkah must be at least large enough to hold his head, most of his body and his table. The disagreement is only concerning whether he can sit on the edge of his sukkah with his table outside of the sukkah. Bet Shammai worries that if one sits with his table outside of the sukkah he will be drawn to eat outside of the sukkah. Bet Hillel is not worried about this.
This is a continuation of the above. By reading a mishnah with precision, R. Nahman proves that Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel disagree about where a person sits and not about the minimum size of the sukkah. The mishnah says, “If his…table was within the house…” The description is dealing with how a person sits. If the mishnah wanted to discuss the size of the sukkah, the wording should have been, “if the sukkah can contain” or “if the sukkah cannot contain.” Thus R. Nahman has proven that the debate is over position within the sukkah, not size of sukkah.
Today’s section is a response to R. Nahman b. Yitzchak from yesterday. R. Nahman claimed that Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel argue about where one sits in the sukkah, not the minimum size of a sukkah. Here, the Talmud argues that the two houses do indeed disagree about the minimum size of a sukkah.
To prove that the two houses disagree concerning the minimum size of a sukkah, the Talmud cites two baraitot (tannaitic sources not found in the Mishnah). In both baraitot the sages disagree with Rabbi [Judah Hanasi] concerning the minimum size of a sukkah. Rabbi’s position is the same in both: the sukkah needs to be four cubits square (about 2 x 2 meters). But the sages position is different. In the first baraita they hold that it must contain his head, the greater part of his body and his table. The second baraita does not mention table.
To prevent a discrepancy between the two baraitot the Talmud infers that the first follows Bet Shammai and the second follows Bet Hillel. Thus we have proven that the two houses do indeed disagree about the minimum size of a sukkah.
Mar Zutra supports the notion that the two houses argue over minimum size of sukkah and not position within the sukkah. The mishnah uses the language “declare it invalid” and “declare it valid.” These words refer to the sukkah itself: a sukkah that cannot contain his head, most of his body and table is invalid according to Bet Shammai and valid according to Bet Hillel. If the mishnah had been discussing his position within the sukkah it should have used the words, “he has fulfilled/not fulfilled his obligation.”
Finally, the Talmud concludes that the wording of the mishnah demonstrates that Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel actually disagree about both issues. They disagree about a “large sukkah”—meaning a sukkah large enough to hold his head, body and table but where he sits with his table in the house, and not in the sukkah. Bet Shammai says that in such a case he has not fulfilled his obligation whereas Bet Hillel holds that he has. They also disagree with regard to the minimum size of a sukkah: Bet Shammai says it must be able to hold his head, body and table, whereas Bet Hillel holds that it need not hold his table.
In any case, the halakhah is according to Bet Shammai, as we saw on the beginning of this page.
In the previous section we saw a dispute concerning the minimum size of a sukkah. Rabbi Judah Hanasi held that it must be at least four cubits by four cubits. Today’s section explores other halakhot where we also see that the minimum measure must be four cubits square.
his baraita lists halakhot that are not applicable to houses that are smaller than four by four cubits. In essence, the baraita is saying that a house smaller than this size does not count as a house, at least not for matters which the Torah applies only to a house.
1: Mezuzah—I’m assuming you know what this one is.
2: Parapet—The Torah requires a person to place a parapet, a fence, around his flat roof so that people don’t fall off the roof (Deuteronomy 22:8).
3: Houses are susceptible to some form of scale disease. This is discussed in Leviticus 14:33-53 and in tractate Negaim.
4: According to biblical law if one sells a house in a walled city in the land of Israel he has only one year to redeem the house from the purchaser (Leviticus 25:29-34). Our baraita teaches that if the house is smaller than 4 cubits square, this special law does not apply. It may be redeemed any time. If it is not redeemed before the Jubilee if reverts to its original owner.
5: According to Deuteronomy 20:5, when preparing for war, anyone who has begun to build a house but has not yet lived there is exempt from war. Our baraita teaches that to be exempt from war the house must be at least 4 cubits square.
6: An eruv is a shared meal that allows people who share a courtyard to carry from their homes into the courtyard. A “shittuf” accomplishes the same thing for an alleyway. All people who own a home adjacent to the courtyard or alley jointly buy a meal and then can carry from one place to the other. If the house is smaller than 4 x 4 cubits then they don’t need to share in the costs of the eruv, nor can the eruv be placed in that house.
7: A person can’t go out on Shabbat more than 2000 cubits from his city. Two cities that are more than 141 1/3 cubits from each other are considered two separate cities. But if there is a house that is in between them and is less than 70 2/3 cubits from each city, it joins the two together such that the entire area is considered one city. In this case a person could go 2000 cubits on Shabbat even beyond the other city. But the house must be 4 x 4 cubits.
The same rule would apply if there was a house within 70 2/3 cubits of a city. Such a house would extend the city limits such that one could go on Shabbat 2000 cubits outside of the house.
8: Finally, if brothers inherit a house one brother can force the other to divide it. However, if the house is smaller than 4 x 4 cubits, they cannot do so.