Today’s section continues to discuss possible remedies to sukkot that are either too high or too low.
The sukkah is less than ten handbreadths high, which means it is not valid, as we learned in the Mishnah. If he digs a hole in the ground in the middle of the sukkah so that the skhakh is ten handbreadths from the bottom of the hole, and the edges of the hole are less than three handbreadths from the wall, the sukkah is kosher. If they are more than three handbreadths from the walls, it is invalid.
The Talmud asks the obvious question. In the previous parts of this daf, we said that if the kosher part of the sukkah (under 20 cubits high) was four cubits from the walls, the walls could go with it. Now we say that the kosher part of the sukkah (over 10 handbreadths high) must be within 3 handbreadths of the wall. Why the inconsistency?
The answer is that in the case of the too high sukkah there already is a wall. A wall must be ten handbreadths high, and those walls were already plenty high. Therefore, they only need to be within four cubits of the platform that reduced the height of the skhakh.
In this case, the walls are not actually walls for without digging in the ground, the walls are not even 10 handbreadths high. For the hole in the ground to make them a wall, they must be within 10 handbreadths.
In this case he builds a pillar, or a sort of platform, in the middle of the sukkah and the pillar is broad enough so that it itself could constitute a sukkah. It seems like the pillar is more than four cubits from the walls, otherwise we could count them with the pillar as we have already learned.
Abaye wants to employ a legal fiction whereby something that rises from the ground is accorded fictitious partitions that are drawn upward. That is to say, we imagine that the edges of the pillar are drawn up to the skhakh such that there are now valid walls. This principle is called “גוד אסיק” and we will encounter it throughout the Tractate.
Rava disagrees. The problem is that the walls of the sukkah must be recognizable, and not just legal fictions. We shall see that there are cases in which this principle is effective, just not this case.Introduction
Today’s section deals with a person who puts up four poles and then skhakh on top. He puts up no walls. Can we pretend that there are walls?
As we shall see later, this person seems to be building his sukkah on a roof. He drives four poles into the roof and somehow manages to get valid skhakh to stay up top. Rabbi Jacob declares that the sukkah is valid. But the other sages say it is not valid because there are no walls.
R. Huna, a Babylonian amora, limits the dispute between the two positions in the tannaitic baraita. R. Jacob says that such a sukkah is valid only if the sukkah was erected on the edges of a flat roof. In such a case we can imagine that the walls below were drawn up above such that they can serve as walls for the sukkah. This is the principle of “גוד אסיק” that we mentioned in yesterday’s section.
The other rabbis do not invoke this principle. The sukkah is invalid.
This is the continuation of R. Huna’s statement. If he puts the poles in the middle of the roof and not the sides of the roof, even R. Jacob agrees that the sukkah is invalid. There are no walls to fictitiously draw upwards.
R. Nahman, another Babylonian amora, disagrees with R. Huna. He holds that the sages and R. Jacob disagree even if the poles are placed in the middle of the sukkah.
The Talmud now asks exactly what R. Nahman meant. Did he mean that there is a dispute only if the sukkah is built in the middle of the roof? If the sukkah was built on the sides, the rabbis would agree that one can invoke the principle of “draw the partition upward.”
The other possibility is that R. Nahman meant that even if he makes it in the middle of the roof there is a dispute. The sages would always invalidate such a sukkah, and R. Jacob would always validates it.
The Talmud does not have a resolution to this question. This is called a “teko” which in modern Hebrew means “tie” but in Aramaic means—let it stand.
In this case, what this means is that the Talmud does not know if R. Nahman thinks that the sages allow such a sukkah built on the sides of a roof. Since the halakhah assumedly will follow the sages and R. Nahman, this means that the Talmud does not answer a practical halakhic question. Don’t worry, this is a frequent occurrence!
This is a direct continuation of yesterday’s section which dealt with erecting four poles and putting skhakh on top of them without building walls.
The Talmud now brings an objection against R. Huna who held that if he built such a sukkah (with poles and without walls) in the middle of the roof even R. Jacob would agree that it is invalid.
This baraita is nearly the same as the baraita above in section five, except that here they explicitly disagree about a sukkah built on the ground. R. Jacob still validates it, even though he cannot invoke the principle of “draw the partition upward.”
The Talmud now explains the difficulty it has raised against R. Huna. Building a sukkah on the ground is like building it in the middle of the roof. Nevertheless, R. Jacob validates it. This proves that R. Huna is wrong—R. Jacob would validate even such a sukkah built in the middle of the roof.
R. Huna said that the sages and R. Jacob disagree about a sukkah built on the sides of the roof. R. Jacob validates and the sages do not. However, the fact that in this baraita they disagree about a sukkah built on the ground (=middle of roof) might imply that they don’t disagree if he built the sukkah on the sides of a roof. All would validate such a sukkah.
R. Huna could defend himself on this point. He seems to retreat a bit here from his position above, and now holds that the sages and R. Jacob disagree in all situations, whether the sukkah is built in the middle or the sides of the roof. The reason why the baraita specifies that they disagree if the sukkah was built on the ground or in the middle of the roof is to let you know that even in such a case, where one cannot invoke the principle of “draw the partitions upward” R. Jacob still validates it.
In this baraita the sages and R. Jacob again disagree about using poles to build a sukkah. In this case, R. Jacob wants to pretend that if the poles are wide enough we could count them as a wall going in each direction. The pole would have to be wide enough such that if you hollowed it out, you could have a handbreadth going one way and a handbreadth going another way. This is called a דיומד in Hebrew which is a combination of the word “two” and “pillar.” For such a pillar to count as two walls, it has to be at least a handbreadth in both directions.
The sages disagree. Two walls have to be proper walls and only the third wall can be fictitious.
As an aside this is the halakhah to this day. Your sukkah has to have two proper adjacent walls, but the third wall is valid even if it is only a handbreadth.