Aruch Chapter 629:  What One is Able to Make the סכך Out Of (19 Paragraphs)

REMA in brackets [ ]

1.  The סכך must be made out of something which grew from the earth, it must be detached rom the earth and it must be something that is unable to accept uncleanness (טומאה).  However, something that did not grow from the earth but came from the earth, even though it came from the ground and does not accept uncleanness it is invalid.  Examples include the raw skins of animals or plain metal which are invalid [also dirt]. 

2.  Similarly, objects which accept uncleanliness are invalid like skewers and bed frames and all vessels.  Even if they were broken so thoroughly such that not enough remains of them to accept uncleanness they are invalid for סכך

3.  One who reworks objects of wood so that they no longer have any area to hold anything, they are valid.  If they have an area to hold anything, they are invalid. 

4.  One can make the סכך out of flax so that it not fine and not pressed since it is considered like regular wood, but if it is not it is invalid.

5.  Rope of flax is invalid.  Rope of reed grass or from the bast of a palm tree is valid. 

6. A mat of branches, straw, phloem, or reed grass.  It does not matter whether it is soft enough to lie upon or not.  The rule is if a regular child is able to lie down upon it, then it accepts uncleanness unless it was made for the purpose of סכך. [In other words, if most of the people in that city make that mat for the purpose סכך then it is valid.]  If an adult used it for  but it was made as a bed, then it is invalid. [In other words, the custom of that city is to make such a mat for lying upon.]  That which I said only applies if the mat has no trimmed border.  But if it had a trimmed border it is able to accept uncleanness and we don't make סכך out of it even if one took out the trim.

7.  There is a doubt if one is able to put a ladder (horizontally) on the roof in order to put סכך on top of it.  [Therefore one may not put סכך over it. It is also forbidden po put the ladder on top of the סכך in order to strengthen it.  The same rule applies to any vessel able to accept uncleanness like a bench and chair which accept uncleanness.]

8.  To attach the poles of the Succah with iron nails or to tie them with worn garments [meaning worn garments] which accept uncleanness does not matter. 

9.  All foods accept uncleanness and one may not make סכך out of them.

10.  The branches of dates which include some dates or grape branches that have some grapes on them, if there are more plant matter then there are food one can use them for the סכךOtherwise, one may not use them. 
<<<<<<<<?? I do not understand the translation for the rest of this paragraph fully ?? Lit: If one cut the branches for the purpose of food, there is in one's hands a bundle of food which accepts uncleanness so it is necessary that there is enough inert plant material to overcome the food and the food one picked.  But if one cut them for the purpose of Sechach, then the hands do not have a bundle of food.  Rather, the opposite is true, they join with the inert plant material to invalidate the food.  If one cut them for the purpose of food and also to make them into Sechach, the intent to make them into food does not apply until he does something to the branches that makes them into Sechach like he threshes them.  >>>>>>>>>>>

11.  One can make סכך out of a food called in Arabic "Shomer".  [It means animal food and people do not eat it unless for medicinal purposes.]

12.  If one makes סכך with vegetables that quickly dry out, even though they are invalid since they accept uncleanness, they do not have the rule of other invalid forms of סכך which invalidate with 4 handbreadths.  Rather, they are considered like air and invalidate with only 3 handbreadths.  But if they do not dry out quickly then they count as other invalid forms of סכך and are invalid with 4 handbreadths.  [Anything that normally dries out within 7 days is considered dried out and like air.  It is invalid to use even for the walls of the Succah. ]

13.  Anything attached to the ground one may not make סכך out of and has the same laws as the laws of a tree.     

14.  There are items which the Rabbis forbade from making סכך out of לכתחילה (preferably in an ideal scenario).  They are species of grass that one can not eat and they do not accept uncleanness.  But they smell bad or that vultures like to go in.  We are afraid that because of the bad smell or the vultures one will leave the Succah. 

15.  It is similarly forbidden to make סכך out of rope.  Because it may happen that a man may spread out his freshly made rope on the Succah in order to dry it out and after this he may decide to use it for the סכך and it would be invalid since it violates the rule of "you shall make and not from something already made" [1].  So the Rabbis invalidated all rope that one can make this mistake.  Only rope that normally dries out did they make this decree.  This does not apply to rope with less than 25 strands.  So if the rope had less than 25 strands it is permitted to use it as סכך.  If one has a rope that is 25 branches or more, one should tie one end over the other end and then one can use it as סכך since it is not called a rope anymore since it is bent.   But if you tie another branch with it, then it has 25 strands.  [Similarly, any rope that is not tied at the first string which is necessary in order to use it is not considered a rope and one may use it for סכך

16. Rope that was only tied in order to group similar species of fiber together: when one unties it is is not called rope (?? unsure of exact translation).

17.  If one made the סכך out of rope for the purpose of סכך and one had a circumstance that permitted it, then it is fine as this is only a Rabbinical decree.  But if one put rope on top of the Succah in order to dry out and then decided to use it for סכך, this is invalid even from the Torah and it must be removed.

18. One may also not use planks of lumbar that are wider than four handbreadths.  Even if one placed planks wider than 4 handbreadths on their side so they no longer wider than four looking up it is invalid.  However, if they are less than four handbreadths wide it is valid.  Even if one worked them so they are similar to vessels they are valid, but our custom is to not use them for סכך

19. If one built sides on the roof because of the sun or if one built under it because of vultures to keep them out and from going on his table, they are invalid.  But if one built them because of its beauty, it is valid.  This is true as long as it is within 4 handbreadths of the  סכך.
Others say if one has a Kosher Succah and one built sides for it in order that the סכך doesn't dry out or to straighten the branches in order that the sun is more than the shade (in the second case,) since the sides cause the sun is more than the shade it is invalid.  But if one only built the sides in order to shield them from the sun or for its beauty it is valid as long as it is within 4 handbreadths of the סכך.  However, לכתחילה one should not do this unless it is recognizable that his intention was only in order to use for balance or if one soaked them in water; then it is recognizable that one only built it in order to dry out the סכך
1. A person must put the סכך on the Succah for the purpose of putting the סכך on.  Since this individual put the rope on for a different purpose, it is invalid to use as סכך unless he removes it and then puts it back for the purpose of סכך .  This is because of the rule of "you shall make and not from something already made".  In other words, it is invalid to put something on the Succah already assigned for a different purpose and reinvent it for the purpose of סכך because of this rule.

Shulchan Aruch Chapter 630: The Laws of the Walls of the Succah (13 Paragraphs)

1. Every material is valid to use for the walls [and you do not have to arrange them in the direction that they grow]. Even if the walls have enough space that they let in more sun then shade, they are valid. [Nevertheless, one should not make the walls out of something that has a bad smell or something that will dry out within the seven days of Succot so there will no longer be enough material to be considered a separation.]

2. Ponder the scenario where one had two walls at right angles to each other. If one builds a wall that is the minimum size of a handbreath and places it within 3 handbreaths against one of these two walls, then hangs a branch above this tiny wall making an entry way out of it, it is valid even though this branch does not touch the walls {1}. [But if the tiny wall and the one it lies against reach the סכך of the Succah, it does not even require a branch be above them. The custom we have to make round entrances is only for beauty.]

3. Suppose one had two walls, one opposite the other and there was a breach in one of the walls. If one takes a wall which is 4 full handbreaths or more in size and puts it within 3 handbreaths of one of the walls, it is valid.  However, one has to build a type of entry way like hanging a branch on the broken wall.  Others say that an entryway is not needed.  [But if the wall was 7 handbreaths long without such a defect one does not need to build an entryway since there exists 7 handbreaths which is the minimum amount needed for the Succah to be Kosher.  Certainly one does not need an entry way when one has good complete walls.  Our custom to build an entry way when we have good complete walls is only for beauty.]

4.  When were these words said, when one builds a Succah in a place with no walls around it.  However, if one builds such a Succah in the middle of a courtyard away from the courtyard's walls, even though that the Succah only has two walls opposite each other, this fix is sufficient to make it valid since the two walls become
like an angle {2} (M.B. if there are 3 handbreaths or less between the perpendicular walls like in the previous paragraph.)

The rest of this chapter is very complicated with very hard to translate hebrew and aramaic words. What the author is trying to say is frequently vague as well. I am having great difficulty understanding it and translating it.  I will get back to it another time and translate this chapter later.

5.  ????? We stated earlier about one who makes two walls at right angles to each other, then builds a wall a handbreath insaide and makes a doorway out of this wall.  This is valid even if the two walls have many openings such that ????? one is unable to recognize which one is the doorway.  And it is also valid if one would join the intact portions and it would be less than the amount of breeches. [This is only if the corners are not affected since they must be at right angles to each other.] 



{1} M.B. A Succah needs to have a minimum of three walls and be the minimum size of 7x7 handbreaths square. However, there is a law from Moses at Sinai that you can have two real full size walls and one tiny wall that is only a handbreath in width so long as it looks like a wall. In this case the small wall doesn't reach the Sechach so a branch is hung over it to increase it's height.
{2} The M.B. states that the M.A. disagrees with the author's opinion in this matter and states that such a Succah is invalid.  The M.B. also appears to be saying that this case is talking about where there are 3 handbreaths or less between the Succah's walls and the courtyard's walls like in the previous paragraph.


Shulchan Aruch Chapter 631: A Succah who's Sun is More than It's Shade and Other Laws of the Sechack (10 Paragraphs)

1.  A Succah who's sun and shade are equal above is invalid since the sun spreads out with distance and below the sun will be greater than the shade.  However, if  the sun and the shade are equal below then it is valid.

2.  If parts of the Succah have the sun greater than the shade and parts of it have the shade greater than the sun; if you combine them and the shade is a little greater than the sun combined then it is valid. [However, one should be strict if it is a large Succah and there is a place 7 by 7 handbreaths of sun greater than shade even if when you combine everything the shade would be greater.]

3.  It is optimal to build the Sechach thin in order than you can see the large stars through it.  If one made it thick like a house roof, even though one can not see the stars it is valid.

4.  Consider where one made the Sechach very thin such that there are empty patches.  As long as there is not an empty space of 3 handbreaths in one spot and as long as when combined the shade is greater than the sun it is valid.

5.  If the Sechach was uneven such that parts were higher than others then it is valid so long as there is not 3 handbreaths of height between the two levels.  If there is a handbreth of space parallel between the uneven Sechach, even if there is more than 3 handbreaths of height between them we view it as the two joining together as one level and it is valid. [He means if there is air of 1 handbreath  between them that is enough in theory to bring down the higher portion then it is valid.  Even if the sun is greater than the shade on that air space it is valid if the shade is greater than the sun between the spaces.]

6.  Suppose one has an extra middle wall of the Succah with branches above it.  If they are valid by having more shade than sun then this portion is a valid Succah even though the extra wall was only built as an accessary to the surrounding Succah (loose translateion).

7.  Ponder a case where one has branches sticking outside of the Sechach over a Succah wall and there is an outside wall opposite this. This is a valid Succah if the Secach is valid.  This is true even though one originally only intended the Sechach to cover the Succah walls which he built 7x7 handbreaths wide.  And is true even though one did not intend the Sechach to cover an outside wall (loose translation).
8.  Invalid Sechach makes a Succah invalid with 4 handbreaths.  In other words, 4 handbreaths of invalid Sechach can not be found on a Succah.  If one separated the bundles of invalid Sechach and placed a little Kosher Sechach between them it is invalid since if one would remove the invalid Sechach and replace it with air, there would not be enough valid Sechach left for the Succah to be Kosher.  However, if one mixed a lot more valid Sechach with invalid Sechach; or one weaved it together in such a way that there is an excess of Kosher Sechach then it is a valid Succah.  This applies so long as there is enough valid Sechach to make the Succah valid if the invalid Sechach were removed.  [This only applies for a large Succah, but for a small succah, a 3x3 area of invalid Sechach makes it invalid.]

9.  A house with a roof made out of planks of wood that are covered with roofing materials [meaning tar and pebbles] and one wishes to make this roof valid for a Succah.  It is good enough if one simply removes all the boards having in mind in order to do so for the Mitzvah of Succah.  It is also good if one removed two neighboring planks of wood and put in their place valid Sechach, then it is all Kosher even if there are planks remaining that are wider than four handbreaths.  Others say that it is invalid if the planks are 4 handbreaths in size or wider.

10.  Ponder the case of a Succah that has no roof.  For example, if the tops of all four walls are attached like a triangle or  if one leaned the walls of a Succah against a wall.  In such cases the Succah is invalid.  However, if the Succah had a roof, even if it was as small as a handbreath it is valid.  This also applies if one leaned the Succah walls against a wall but left a roof of a handbreath on top, then it is valid.  [Some say that the handbreath of Sechach must be directly under the floor of the Succah and not above air outside of the Succah.  They also say that the Sechach which counts as the roof must be 7 by 7 handbreaths wide.  The walls also must be at least 10 handbreaths high.  And if parts of the walls are at an angle and are to be counted as Sechach, they must be made out of something that is Kosher for Secach.  In such a case it is permitted to sleep even under the walls {1}.]
{1} I am not 100% sure of my interpretation of the REMA in this paragraph, but I gave my best shot at it and hope it is correct.

Translated by Dr. Jay Dinovitser
Free for personal use only  -6/09