ממה צריך להיות הסכך. ובו יט סעיפים
דבר שמסככין בו צריך שיהיה צומח מן הארץ ותלוש ואינו מקבל טומאה אבל דבר שאינו צומח מן הארץ אע"פ שגידולו מן הארץ ואינו מקבל טומאה כגון עורות של בהמה שלא נעבדו שאינם מקבלי' טומאה או מיני מתכת אין מסככין בהם (וכן אין מסככין בעפר) (ר"ן):
1. From what is needed to be schach (sukkah covering) and in it is 19 paragraphs. An item that is used for a sukkah covering needs to be grown from the ground, detached (from the ground), and not able to be susceptible to ritual impurity. But an item that does not grow from the ground even though it increases from the ground (i.e. is sustained by the earth and/or it's byproducts) like the skin of an animal that has not been processed thus not susceptible to ritual impurity or types of metals, we do not use them as a sukkah cover. Rema (Parentheses): And similarly we do not cover the sukkah with dirt [Ran].
וכן דבר שמקבל טומאה כגון שפודין וארוכות המטה וכל הכלים אין מסככין בהם ואפי' אם נשברו שלא נשאר בהם שיעור קבלת טומאה:
2. And so an item that is susceptible to ritual impurity like a spit, a board of a bedframe, and all types of vessels, we do not cover the sukkah from them. And (this disqualification applies) even if they break in a manner that it does not remain the required size to be susceptible to ritual impurity.
סיככה בחיצים שאין להם בית קיבול כשרה ושיש בהם בית קיבול פסולה:
3. A sukkah covered with arrow shafts that do not have a receptacle (to place an arrowhead, thus are just plain smoothed sticks) are kosher. But those with a receptacle are disqualified.
סיככה בפשתן שלא נידק ולא ניפץ כשרה דעץ בעלמא הוא אבל אם נידק וניפוץ פסולה:
4. A sukkah covered with reeds of flax that are not crushed nor combed is kosher because it is just wood. But if crushed and combed (thus processed) it is disqualified.
בחבלים של פשתן פסולה של גמי ושל סיב כשרה:
5. With bundles of flax, it is disqualified (due to looking processed in a bundle) yet (a bundle) of reed grass or palm fiber is kosher (because it is and looks unprocessed).
במחצלת של קנים וקש ושיפה וגמי בין שהיא חלקה שהיא ראויה לשכיבה בין שאינה חלקה שאינה ראויה לשכיבה אם היא קטנה סתמא עומדת לשכיבה ומקבלת טומאה ואין מסככין בה אלא אם כן עשאה לסיכוך: הגה דהיינו שרובבני אותה העיר עושין אותה לסיכוך (הרא"ש פ"ק דסוכה) ואם היא גדולה סתמא עומדת לסיכוך ומסככין בה אלא א"כ עשאה לשכיבה (דהיינו שמנהג המקום לשכב עליה) והני מילי שאין לה שפה אבל אם יש לה שפה בענין שראויה לקבל אפי' אם ניטל שפתה אין מסככין בה: הגה במקום שנהגו לקבוע מחצלאות בגגין כעין תקרה אין מסככין בהם (כל בו):
יש להסתפק אם מותר להניח סולם על הגג כדי לסכך על גביו: הגה ולכן אין לסכך עליו ואפי' להניחו על הסכך להחזיקו אסור וה"ה בכל כלי המקבל טומאה כגון ספסל וכסא שמקבלין טומאת מדרס (מהרי"ל):
[The following rules apply with regard to covering a sukkah with] a mat made of reeds, straw, grass, or rushes, whether or not the mat is smooth and thus fit to lie on. If [a mat] is small, i.e., it is only large enough to lie on, it is presumably intended to be used for [that purpose]. Thus it is susceptible to ritual impurity if a zav would lie on it. Hence it may not be used as s’chach even if a zav has not yet lain on it. An exception is made if [such a mat] was made with the intent that it be used as a covering. [It is also permissible] if it was purchased with that intent from a craftsman, because [he] makes mats without any specific intent, seeking to sell them to whoever needs them, each person for his own particular need. Therefore, it is the purchaser’s intent at the time of acquisition that defines its purpose. If he intended to use it for shade, it is not susceptible to ritual impurity, even if it has a rim and could thus serve as a receptacle. This factor is not significant, since this mat was not intended for use as a container.
לחבר כלונסאות הסוכה במסמרות של ברזל או לקשרם בבלאות (פי' חתיכות של בגדים בלוים) שהם מקבלים טומאה אין קפידא:
If, by contrast, a mat is larger than what a person would lie on, it was presumably intended to be used for shade. It would therefore not contract ritual impurity even if a zav would lie on it, because it was not designated [for that purpose]. It may therefore be used as s’chach. When does the above apply? When it is not surrounded by a rim. If, however, it has a rim (around all its four sides), so that it is fit for use as a receptacle, it may not be used as s’chach, because it was presumably intended to serve a function, [e.g.,] for fruit to be laid on it [to dry]. (Moreover, even if that rim is removed, the mat may not be used as s’chach, just as broken utensils may not be used for that purpose, as explained [in subsection 2 above].)
כל מיני אוכלים מקבלים טומאה ואין מסככין בהם:
All the above [principles] apply in a place that has no clearly fixed custom with regard to the use of mats. In a place where the custom of most of the townsmen is to use [even] small mats for shade, such mats may be used as s’chach. [This applies even] to a small mat of undefined purpose, unless it is known that it was made to be lain upon. In a place where most of the townsmen are accustomed to using large mats to lie upon, as is the custom in these regions, a large mat may not be used for s’chach, even if it is known that this mat was made for the purpose of shade, because of the impression that might be created. Not everyone will know [the purpose for which it was made, and people] will say that it was made to lie upon, as is the prevailing custom in the city.
ענפי תאנה ובהם תאנים וזמורות ובהם ענבים אם פסולת מרובה על האוכל מסככין בהם ואם לאו אין מסככין בהם ואם קצרם לאוכל יש לידים תורת אוכל לקבל טומאה וצריך שיהא פסולת כדי לבטל האוכל והיד ואם קצרם לסיכוך אז אין לידים תורת אוכל ואדרבה הם מצטרפים עם הפסולת לבטל האוכל ואם קצרם לאכול ונמלך עליהם לסיכוך אין המחשבה מוציא' הידות מתורת אוכל עד שיעשה בהם מעשה שניכר שרוצה אותם לסיכוך כגון שידוש אותם:
Similarly, in a place where it is customary to fix mats in a roof to serve as a ceiling, mats may not be used as s’chach, even if they were made for use as s’chach and thus are not susceptible to ritual impurity. [This safeguard] was enacted lest a person sit [in his house] under the ceiling that is made of mats and say, “What is the difference between these mats and those?” And the mats used for the ceiling of a house are invalid according to Scriptural Law, for they were not affixed in place for the purpose of shade, but rather [to complete] a dwelling.
מסככין בפי נונו הנקרא בערבי שומר. והוא מאכל בהמה ואין בני אדם אוכלין אותו אלא לרפואה: (רבינו ירוחם נ"ח ח"ב וכל בו):
There is a question as to whether a ladder is susceptible to ritual impurity. [It might be argued that since] it has no receptacle, it is like all flat wooden implements, which are not susceptible to ritual impurity. Alternatively, it is possible that the holes into which the rungs of the ladder are wedged resemble receptacles, in which case [a ladder] may not be used as s’chach. [Furthermore,] as the initial and preferred option, one should be careful not to lay [a ladder] on the roof so that the s’chach can be placed upon it, nor to lay it on the s’chach in order to hold it in place so that it will not be scattered by the wind. Similarly, as an initial and preferred option, no [other] object that is susceptible to ritual impurity, such as a chair or a bench, should be used to hold the s’chach in place or to support it. This [safeguard] was ordained lest [such objects] be used for the actual s’chach.
סיכך בירקות שממהרין לייבש אף על פי שפסולים לסכך מפני שמקבלים טומאה אין דינם כסכך פסול לפסול בד' טפחים אלא כאויר חשיבי לפסול בשלשה ואם אין דרכם ליבש דינם כסכך פסול ופוסלים בארבעה טפחים: הגה וכל מה שדרכו לייבש תוך שבעה מיד דיינינן ליה כאלו הוא יבש (ר"ן פ'ק דסוכה) והוי אויר ופוסל בג' אפי' מן הצד: (הגהות מיימוני פ"ד דסוכה):
1When does the above apply? When the s’chach itself was placed on an object that is susceptible to ritual impurity, or when [such an object] was placed on the s’chach itself to hold it in place. By contrast, [no problem is involved] if the s’chach is placed on beams or pegs, and they are placed on an object that is susceptible to ritual impurity. It is permitted to do this [even] as an initial and preferred option. It is of no consequence that the object that supports the s’chach or holds it in place is supported by something that is invalid as s’chach — for the supports for the s’chach of every sukkah in the world are supported by the ground, which is invalid as s’chach.
כל דבר המחובר אין מסככין בו ודינו כדין האילן:
All of this applies at the outset. After the fact, if one already supported the s’chach itself with something that is susceptible to ritual impurity, one may sit in [such a sukkah] [even] as an initial and preferred option. Moreover, even as an initial and preferred option, it is permitted to rest the s’chach itself on the walls of the sukkah even though they are made of materials that are invalid as s’chach, as is the case with a stone wall. [The rationale is that] there is no need to ordain such [a safeguard] for fear that someone might use stones as s’chach; everyone knows that stones are invalid as s’chach, for this would not be a sukkah at all, but a kind of permanent dwelling. Similarly, [even] as an initial and preferred option, it is permitted to attach the beams — on which the s’chach rests — to the walls of the sukkah with iron nails or tie them with pieces of cloth that are susceptible to ritual impurity. [This is permitted,] because the s’chach itself is placed on beams which are not susceptible to ritual impurity and which are valid as s’chach.
יש דברים שאסרו חכמים לסכך בהם לכתחל' והם מיני עשבים שאינם ראויים לאכילה ואינם מקבלים טומאה וריחם רע או שנושרים עליהן דחיישינן שמא מתוך שריחן רע או שעליהן נושרים יצא מן הסוכה:
The Sages ordained that any flat wooden objects of minimal width on which something could be placed, such as a table, a spade, or a baker’s trowel, are susceptible to ritual impurity, because they resemble receptacles. Therefore, they may not be used as s’chach, nor may they be laid on the s’chach to hold it in place, even if they are broken. Since there was a time when they were susceptible to ritual impurity, it was ordained [that they should never be used for s’chach].
וכן אסור לסכך בחבילה מפני שפעמים שאדם מניח חבילתו על גג הסוכה ליבשה ואחר כך נמלך עליה לשם סוכה ואותה סוכה פסולה משום תעשה ולא מן העשוי בפיסול וגזרו על כל חבילה אטו זאת וכיון שמפני זה אסרוהו לא הוצרכו לאסור אלא בחבילה שדרך ליבשה ואין זה בפחות מכ"ה קנים הלכך כל חבילה שהיא פחותה מכ"ה קנים מותר לסכך בה ואם כ"ה קנים או יותר הבאים מגזע אחד וקשרם בראשם השני אינה נקראת חבילה כיון שעיקרן אחד ואם אגד עמהם קנה אחר ויש בין שניהם כ"ה הויא חבילה: הגה וכל חבילה שאינה קשורה משני ראשיה שיכולין לטלטלה כך אינה חבילה ומותר לסכך בה (ב"י בשם הפוסקים):
All the accessories to food — such as the straw of ears of grain, the twigs to which grapes [are attached], and the branches to which dates [are attached] — are susceptible to ritual impurity at the time they are attached to the food. [This concept is derived as follows:] From the verse, “It shall be impure for you,” the Sages inferred that anything that is necessary for you with regard to this food, i.e., [even] the accessories, is susceptible to ritual impurity like the food itself. The term “accessory” is applied only to [a maximum of] three handbreadths of the straw of ears of grain that belong to the kinds that are harvested with a sickle; four handbreadths of date branches; and two handbreadths of the twigs to which grapes [are attached], i.e., one handbreadth to the right of the cluster [of grapes] that hangs from the branch and one handbreadth to the left. If the branches are longer than these measures, all that is susceptible to ritual impurity is the part that is within these [maximum] distances from the food. ([Different rules apply with regard to] the straw of ears of grain that belong to those varieties that are not harvested with a sickle, but are uprooted by hand. Their definition as “accessories” is not limited by their length; even if they are very long, they are considered as “accessories” and are susceptible to ritual impurity.)
חבילה שאין קושרים אותה אלא למכרה במנין ומיד כשיקננה הקונה יתירנה אינה חבילה:
Therefore, [the following law applies if] a person covered his sukkah with the straw of ears of grain, twigs to which grapes [are attached], and branches [laden] with dates. If the straw, the twigs, and the branches are not long enough to constitute a majority when compared to the food and to [that part of the straw, twigs, or branches that is considered] its “accessory,” [the s’chach] is invalid. When does the above apply? When the grain was reaped or the fruit was harvested for food. In such a situation, the “accessory” must be connected to the food so that the food can be held. If, by contrast, one reaped or harvested [the grain or the fruit] for the purpose of s’chach, he is not happy to have the “accessory” connected to the food, for the food will disqualify his sukkah. The “accessory” is therefore not susceptible to ritual impurity, for it is [ordinarily] susceptible to ritual impurity only because it is a subordinate auxiliary to food, and hence is considered to be like the food itself. In this instance, by contrast, the food is not at all needed for use as s’chach, and that was the purpose for which this person reaped. Hence, the “accessory” is not considered as subordinate to [the food. That part of the straw and the twigs that is considered as] an “accessory” therefore combines with the remainder of the length of the straw and the twigs to make the food batel — insignificant and therefore nullified — vis-à-vis the majority [of valid s’chach].
אם סיכך בחבילה והתירה כשירה כיון שאין איסורה אלא משום גזירה אבל החבילה שהעלה ליבש ונמלך עליה לסיכוך שפסולה מן התורה אינה ניתרת בהתרה אלא צריכה נענוע:
If at the outset, a person harvested and reaped [the grain or fruit] with the intent of using them for food, and then changed his mind, and decided to use [the branches] for s’chach, his [change of] intent does not change the status of the accessories and remove their susceptibility to ritual impurity. [To do that,] he must do something to them that indicates that when he reaped or harvested, it was with the intent of using them for s’chach and not for food; e.g., he must thresh them with mallets or with animal hooves.
וכן אסרו לסכך בנסרים שרחבן ארבעה אפי' הפכן על צדן שאין בהם ארבעה ואם אין ברחבן ד' כשרים אפילו הם משופין שדומים לכלים ונהגו שלא לסכך בהם כלל:
Any [plant] that is primarily used as animal fodder and is consumed by humans only for medicinal purposes, such as finugee, which is called shumar in Arabic, may be used for s’chach as an initial and preferred option.
פירס עליה סדין מפני החמה או תחתיה מפני הנשר כלומר שלא יהיו עלין וקסמין נושרין על שלחנו פסולה אבל אם לא פירס אלא לנאותה כשרה והוא שיהא בתוך ד' לסכך וי"א שסוכה שהיא מסוככת כהלכתה וירא שמא ייבש הסכך או ישרו העלין ותהיה חמתה מרובה מצלתה ופרס עליה סדין שלא תתייבש או תחתיה שלא ישרו העלין כיון שהסדין גורם שעל ידו צלתה מרובה מחמתה פסולה אבל אם לא כיון בפריסת הסדין אלא להגין מפני החמה והעלין או לנאותו כשרה ובלבד שיהא בתוך ד' לסכך ומיהו לכתחלה לא יעשה אא"כ הוא ניכר לכל שמכוין כדי להגין או שהוא שרוי במים שאז ניכר לכל שאינו שוטחו שם אלא לייבש:
If one used for s’chach vegetables that will dry within seven days, and their leaves will fall, leaving open space, [the leaves] are considered from the outset as if they have [already] fallen, even though they have not yet dried. Hence, [an area of] three handbreadths of them – even if they are at the side [of the sukkah] – disqualifies the sukkah as empty space would, as will be explained in sec. 632.48 Though they are susceptible to ritual impurity they are not considered as invalid s’chach, which does not disqualify the sukkah unless there are four handbreadths of it in the midst of the s’chach. [The rationale is that] since ultimately [the leaves] will wilt and fall in the course of the festival, they are not considered as s’chach. It is as if they do not exist.
One may not use a substance that is [still] connected to the ground as s’chach,1 because it does not resemble “the remnants of the threshing floor and the winepress,” which have been detached from the ground.[Moreover,] if one covered a sukkah with [branches] that were connected [to the ground] and then detached [them], [the s’chach] is invalid. [This is derived from] the verse, “Make the Sukkos festival....” [Implied is that] one must make [the sukkah], and not [use] something which was already made in an unacceptable manner. Since the sukkah was originally made in an unacceptable manner, it is not considered to have been made at all. It is as if nothing was done. The fact that one later made the sukkah valid by detaching the tree [from the ground] is not considered as performing an action, for nothing new was done to the s’chach; i.e., he did not undo [his previous action] at all. Therefore there is no way to correct [such a sukkah] unless one moves about all the invalid s’chach that was detached; i.e., one must lift it up slightly and then put it down again. For at the time it was lifted, the first act — [putting it in place] when it was invalid — was nullified. When he now puts it in place, he is doing something new to the sukkah itself.
There are certain substances that our Sages forbade using as s’chach as an initial preference. Among them are: [a] grasses with an unpleasant smell, [which are invalid] even though they are not edible and are not susceptible to ritual impurity; and also [b] certain kinds of brambles whose leaves fall at all times, even when there is no wind.[The rationale is that] we are apprehensive that a person may leave the sukkah because of the unpleasant smell or because of the falling leaves. Nevertheless, if one transgressed and used these materials as s’chach, [the sukkah] is valid and one may dwell in it as an initial and preferred option.
Bundles of straw or bundles of wood may not be used for s’chach while they are bound together. [The rationale is that] on any summer evening a person will sometimes come from the fields with his bundle on his shoulder and place it to dry on the sukkah that he uses throughout the summer for his herds. [Thus he will] not [have placed it there] for the purpose of shade. When Sukkos comes, he will change his mind [and desire to use it] for s’chach. [This is not acceptable,] for [with regard to the sukkah] the Torah states, “Make [the Sukkos festival...].” [Implied is that] one must make [the sukkah], and not [use] something that was already made in an unacceptable manner. Now, this bundle was not placed there for s’chach, [nor] even for shade, but to dry. Hence, it is not considered as s’chach and this sukkah will have been made in an unacceptable manner. The Sages therefore ordained that bundles should never be used as s’chach even when they were placed on the sukkah in order to fulfill the mitzvah of sukkah for the festival. This ordinance [is a safeguard to forestall the possibility of error] involving bundles [that may have been placed there] throughout the summer.
Since this prohibition was enacted only because of this ordinance, it was necessary to prohibit [the use of] only bundles [of the kind] which are commonly left to dry out, i.e., which have no fewer than 25 canes in them. Bundles of fewer than 25 canes may be used as s’chach.
[Moreover,] even if there are 25 or more canes coming out of one stem, but they are separate at the other end and bound together there, they may be used as s’chach, for since they [emerge from] the same stem, they do not resemble a bundle that is left to dry. If, however, a person tied one cane that did not emerge from the same stem together with them, it is considered as [such] a bundle if there are 25 canes together with the additional one, and it may not be used as s’chach.
2As to canes that are bound together in bundles to be sold in the marketplace by number, a purchaser unties them as soon as he buys them. One may [therefore] use them as s’chach. The ordinance forbidding the use of bundles bound throughout the summer months is not applied [in this context], because such a bundle is not ordinarily set aside while bound. [Even one who] purchases it to dry out [the wood] unties it immediately.
[The following law applies to] bundles of willow branches whose thick ends are tied together at one extremity and whose thin ends are tied together at the other. As soon as one unties the knot at the thick end, [the bundle] may be used as s’chach, because the knot at the [thin] end is not so strong that it will hold if the bundle is carried. And any bundle that is not fit to be carried while bound is not considered a bundle at all.
If [such] a bundle was tied only in the middle, it may not be used as s’chach, because it could be carried when bound in this way.
If one transgressed and used a bundle as s’chach, he may untie [it] and thus [render the s’chach] valid. Though the sukkah was originally made in an unacceptable manner, it should not be disqualified because of [the above requirement to] “make, rather than [use] what was already made in an unacceptable manner.” [This leniency is granted] because [bundles are] deemed invalid only by Rabbinic ordinance, as explained above. If, however, one placed a bundle [on the sukkah] to dry, and when Sukkos arrived he changed his mind and decided to use it for s’chach, it is invalid by Scriptural Law, for it was not put there for shade. Hence, untying it is not sufficient to render it valid. [The rationale is that] it was not disqualified merely because it was tied together; rather, the fact that it was not laid in place for shade caused it to be disqualified by Scriptural Law. Something new must therefore be done to [the way] it was laid down. It must be lifted up slightly and then put back in place with the intent that it provide shade. The bundle must also be untied, for a bundle may not be used as s’chach because of the [safeguard] that was ordained [to forestall the possibility of error] involving a bundle [that may have been placed there] throughout the summer, as was explained above.
Boards that are [at least] four handbreadths wide may not be used as s’chach, because the ceilings of most homes are made of [such boards]. Thus, [were they to be used,] there would be cause for concern that someone might sit under the ceiling of his home and say, “What difference is there between covering my sukkah with such boards — and sitting under the ceiling of my home? It, too, is made of boards!” And the ceiling of a home is invalid [as s’chach] according to Scriptural Law, for the reason explained in sec. 626.64
Even if one did not place the width of the boards on the sukkah, but turned them and laid them on their sides, which were less than four handbreadths wide, they are, nevertheless, invalid. Once they have been deemed invalid, they are like metal spits that are invalid as s’chach, regardless of which way they are turned.
However, boards that are less than four handbreadths wide may be used as s’chach even if they have been planed and resemble utensils, despite the fact that they are wide enough to be fit for use as seats [and] are also fit to have fruit and loaves placed on them. Nevertheless, they are not susceptible to ritual impurity, for they were not set aside to be sat upon nor to be used for any other purpose, but are intended for construction or for destroying a building.
Today, when homes are roofed by boards that are less than three handbreadths wide, a sukkah should be disqualified even if boards less than three handbreadths wide are used as s’chach, because of the [safeguard] that was ordained lest one sit under the ceiling of his home that is made of such boards. However, one may use very narrow boards, such as lattices and shingles, for it is not common to make the ceiling of a home out of such narrow boards. Nevertheless, one must be careful to make the s’chach temporary and light so that rain can penetrate [the sukkah], as stated in sec. 631[:5]. It has therefore become customary not to use [boards] for s’chach at all, lest someone err and [build] a permanent [roof] that rain could not penetrate.
In a pressing situation, where people lack materials to use as s’chach, one may use boards as s’chach, even if they are [more than] four handbreadths wide, if there is no other alternative. This principle applies to all materials prohibited [as s’chach] because of a Rabbinic ordinance.