ז׳ באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ד (February 7, 2014)

Sukka 4a-b: Using a Sukka Whose Walls Are Not the Right Height

The first Mishna in the perek (see 2a) taught that a sukka whose walls are more than 20 amot high is not a valid sukka. The Gemara on our daf teaches that if the walls are too high, it can be rectified by building a platform, extending from one wall to the next, that is, by itself, large enough to be a valid sukka. By doing this, we effectively lower the walls of the sukka to less than 20 amot.

The Gemara follows this ruling with three other examples of cases where a sukka whose walls are not the right height can be fixed by manipulating the height of the floor:

  1. When a platform is built on one side of a sukka that has three walls taller than 20 amot. In this case, the platform must reach to within four amot of the opposite wall so that that wall will be considered part of the sukka.

  2. When a platform is built in the middle of such a sukka. In this case there must be less than four amot between the platform and the walls on both sides so that those walls will be considered part of the sukka. 

  3. If the sukka was less than ten handbreadths high and he dug out an area inside the sukka in order to complete the requisite height of the sukka to ten handbreadths, if from the edge of the dug-out area to the wall there is a distance of three handbreadths, it is unfit, as in that case the edge of the dug-out area is not joined to the wall of the sukka. Therefore, even though the interior space is ten handbreadths high, its walls are not the requisite height to be considered a fit sukka. If the distance from the edge of the dug-out area to the wall was less than three handbreadths then it is fit. 

Platform on side of sukka

Platform on side of sukka

Platform in center of sukka

Platform in center of sukka

Sukka with dug out floor

Sukka with dug out floor

The operating principle behind these rulings is dofen akumah – a curved wall. The exact definition of this term is unclear. Some of the rishonim, including Rashi, the Me’iri, the Ritva and others, explain that when the valid sukka reaches close enough to the wall, we consider it as though the wall continues horizontally at the top, perceiving the skhakh as part of the wall. Another explanation is that we consider the wall to have moved from its place, as though it reached the skhakh at the point where the sukka was valid (according to this understanding, some of the skhakh will be viewed as being on the “other side” of the wall).
Curved wall

Curved wall

In any case, dofen akumah is one of many legal fictions that are permitted by in creating valid walls for a sukka.

Previous
Next