The author of the second baraita, the “rakbash” baraita thought that those sukkot were of greater validity because they were built by Jews who are obligated to dwell in sukkot on the festival. He then included the other sukkot which were built by people (or for animals) not obligated for the mitzvah of sukkah (gentiles, Samaritans and cattle).
Finally—a new mishnah!
Bet Hillel allows a person to use an old sukkah. For Bet Hillel the intention that went in to building the sukkah is not critical. In contrast, for Bet Shammai an old sukkah, one that was not made with the intent to use it on the festival, is invalid, even if it matches all of the other halakhic criteria. However, Beth Shammai agrees that any sukkah that was made thirty days before the festival is valid, since we can assume that he made it knowing that he might use it on Sukkot. The only debate is over a sukkah that was made more than thirty days before Sukkot without the intention of using it on Sukkot.
Bet Shammai derive the halakhah that a sukkah must be made specifically for the sake of the festival from the words “unto the Lord” in Leviticus.
Bet Hillel does not hold that the sukkah must be made expressly for the festival. They don’t use the verse in the same was as does Bet Shammai. In a typical move, the Talmud now finds a use for the verse. Bet Hillel uses the verse, as does R. Sheshet, to forbid the use of the wood used to build a Sukkah during the seven days of the festival. For instance, if at some point during the festival I decided I wanted to take some wood from anywhere used in building the sukkah and use it to make a fire, I could not do so. The wood is “muktzeh”—set aside for use in the sukkah.
The Talmud cites an additional baraita to show that the sukkah is “set aside to the Lord” at least during the festival itself. Just as one is not allowed to take an animal dedicated to be a sacrifice and make other use of it, so too one is not allowed to take a part of the sukkah and make other use of it.
This is a continuation of yesterday’s section.
The Talmud raises a difficulty on Bet Shammai. They agree that one cannot use the wood of the sukkah for all seven days. So don’t they too need to derive this law from the verse, “a festival of sukkot for seven days to the Lord.” If so, they don’t have a verse left to support their disqualification of the old sukkah.
The Talmud answers that indeed Bet Shammai does use the verse from Leviticus in the same way that Bet Hillel used it. Bet Shammai derives the notion that one must make a sukkah specifically for the festival from another verse, this time from Deuteronomy.
Bet Hillel uses the verse from Deuteronomy to teach that one may make a sukkah during any of the seven days, even during one of the intermediate days of the festival.
This section ends finally with another dispute between the two houses. Bet Shammai holds that one may not make a sukkah during the intermediate days of the festival. This is an opinion that we shall explore later in the Talmud where it is attributed to R. Eliezer. It seems that this opinion reads the verse as if it says—either build a sukkah that will be used for seven days, or don’t build one at all.
Today’s section raises a difficulty against Bet Hillel who seems to hold that in general ritual objects don’t need to be made with the specific purpose of their ritual use in mind.
Above, we learned that according to Bet Hillel a sukkah doesn’t need to be built with the specific intention of being used for the festival. The Talmud extrapolates from this that Bet Hillel would hold that in general religious objects need not be made with the specific ritual use in mind. Thus a sukkah could be built as a hut for some other purpose and then used as a sukkah when the time came along.
This contradicts with what Rav Judah said in the name of Rav and Shmuel confirmed—tzitzit cannot be made with string spun for other purposes. The examples here are threads that were made for various other purposes. So if tzitzit must be made for the purpose of being used for tzitzit, why doesn’t the sukkah have to be made for its use as a sukkah?
The Talmud initially answers that there is a specific verse that is midrashically interpreted to mean that tzitzit need to be made for the sake of use as tzitzit.
The problem with the previous explanation is that the same language is used in reference to Sukkot. So if the words “for yourself” imply that tzitzit must be made for the sake of your obligation to wear tzitzit, then the same should apply to sukkot.
The answer is that that verse doesn’t teach that one has to build the sukkah for the sake of Sukkot, but that one cannot use a stolen sukkah (this is a topic we will discuss at greater length later in the tractate).
The follow up question is obvious. If we use the word “for yourself” to teach that one cannot use a stolen sukkah, then why not use the same word to teach that halakhah with regard to tzitzit—one cannot use stolen tzitzit. This would mean that one could use tzitzit not made for the festival, as long as they were not stolen.
Tzitzit are referred to in another verse that uses a similar word—for themselves. That verse is used to teach that one cannot use stolen tzitzit. This frees up the verse from Deuteronomy to teach that one cannot use tzitzit that were not made for use as tzitzit. But when it comes to the sukkah, there is only one verse and this verse is used to teach that one cannot use a stolen sukkah.