The Talmud proposes that the above baraita would accord only with Rabbi Judah Hanasi who held that a sukkah must be 4 x 4 cubits. The other rabbis would say that even if the house can only hold his head, most of his body and his table, it would count as a house.
The Talmud then rejects this. A sukkah, according to the rabbis, can be very small, because it is only a temporary abode. But for a structure to be considered a real house, they agree that it must be at least 4 x 4 cubits. We should note that this is still pretty small—about 4 square meters, about 36 square feet. Not exactly Versailles!
Today’s Talmud analyzes the reasons for the baraita which exempted a house smaller than four cubits squared from a series of halakhot. We learned this baraita yesterday.
The Talmud explains that for something to be called a “house” it must be 4 cubits by four cubits. Since the Torah uses the word “house” in reference to all of these matters, anything that is not a “house” is exempt.
If there is a house smaller than four by four that is attached to a courtyard or alley, the dweller therein need not participate in the eruv or shituf (see yesterday for explanation) nor can the eruv (the joint meal) be placed therein. The reason is that such a small house is not fit for dwelling in, certainly not for longer than the holiday of Sukkot.
The baraita had stated that the eruv for a courtyard could not be placed in such a small house. The Talmud deduces from here that a “shittuf” the shared meal that allows one to carry from the courtyard to the alleyway may be placed in this small house. The reason is that this is no worse than placing a shittuf in a courtyard (and not in a house), as we can learn from the following mishnah.
The mishnah (Eruvin 8:4) teaches that the eruv (shared meal) is placed in the courtyard and the shittuf (shared meal) is placed in an alleyway. However, it is clear that the eruv is not placed in the open air part of the courtyard. The eruv must be placed inside a house. It cannot even be placed in a courtyard, or portico or a porch. These places don’t count as part of the courtyard, and if one who lives there does not participate in the cost of the shared meal he does not cause it to be prohibited for others to carry in the courtyard (if this were a regular house, he would).
The Talmud resolves that normally an eruv is placed in a house that is part of the courtyard, and a shittuf is placed in the courtyard that is off the alleyway. The shittuf need not be in a proper house—just as it can be in the courtyard itself, so too it can be in a house smaller than 4 x 4 cubits. That is why the baraita said only that one cannot place an eruv in a small house; it did not say that one cannot place a shittuf in such a house.
Today’s section concludes the analysis of the baraita which listed halakhot that don’t apply to a house smaller than 4 x 4 cubits.
A house smaller than 4 x 4 cubits isn’t usable even as an outpost, a little shack where a person would sit to guard over the orchards. It’s too small to even sleep in it.
The last part of the baraita teaches that if the house is smaller than 4 x 4 brothers who jointly inherit it cannot force a division. The implication is that as long as it is larger than four cubits square they can force a division of property. The Talmud now questions whether this is so in light of a mishnah that says that in order to force a division there needs to be four cubits square for each brother.
The Talmud offers a different explanation of the baraita. It is not, as we said above, that the brothers can’t force one another to divide it. That would be true even if the house were larger than 4 x 4. Rather, if such a small house is attached to a courtyard the resident of such a house does not have rights to divide the courtyard.
The Talmud cites a dispute between two amoraim concerning the division of a courtyard. According to R. Huna it is divided according to the number of doors leading into it. According to R. Hisda, every person gets four cubits in the courtyard for each door they have leading to the courtyard. Beyond that, they divide the courtyard equally.
In any case, what concerns us here is that this rule of dividing the courtyard according to the number of doors leading into it applies only if the house with the door is at least 4 x 4. A smaller house is not meant to stand—it is doomed to be demolished because it is too small to be used. Therefore, such a house doesn’t receive any share in the courtyard.