Regulations concerning the building of a legal booth for the feast of tabernacles, its walls, and roofing
MISHNA: A booth which is higher than twenty ells is not valid. R. Jehudah, however, says it is. One which is not ten spans high, one which has not three walls, or which has more sun than shade, is not valid. 1
GEMARA: Whence do we deduce this? Said Rabha: It is written [Lev. xxiii. 43]: "In order that your generations may know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths." Up to twenty ells a man knows that he is living in a booth, but higher than twenty ells he does not know, because his eyes do not frequently perceive the roof. R. Zera said: From the following passage [Isa. iv. 6]: "And a tabernacle shall it be for a shade in the daytime from the heat." Up to twenty ells a man sits in the shade of the roof, but if it is higher than twenty ells a man sits in the shade of the walls (but not of the roof). Said Abayi to him: According to your theory, if one has made a booth between two hills, it is also not legal (because there is no shadow from the roof at all)? And he answered: What comparison is this? if the hills were removed, he would sit in the shadow of the roof; but here, if the walls would be taken away, there would be no shade at all. Rabha said: From the following passage [Lev. xxiii. 42]: "In booths shall ye dwell seven days." The Law commands that for seven days one shall remove from his permanent dwelling into a temporary dwelling. Up to twenty ells, ordinarily a man makes a temporary dwelling; but higher than this it is not usual to make a temporary dwelling. Said Abayi to him: According to you, if one has made iron walls, and covered them with a legal roof, would it also be unlawful for a booth? Rabha answered: I mean to say this: Up to twenty ells, which is an ordinary height for a temporary dwelling, even if one makes it a permanent dwelling, he can fulfil his duty; but over twenty ells, which is the ordinary height only of a permanent dwelling, even if one has made it a temporary dwelling, it is also unlawful? According to whom is the following saying of R. Joshia in the name of Rabh: The sages and R. Jehudah differ only when the walls do not reach the roof; but if the walls do reach the roof, all agree that the booth is valid though the walls be higher than twenty ells? It is in accordance with Rabha, who says that the sages make it invalid because the eye cannot reach the roof; but when the walls are attached to the roof, the eye is able to do so.
According to whom would the following saying of R. Hannan in the name of Rabh be: that they differ only about a booth less than four ells square, but when it is four ells square all agree that it is valid? This is in accordance with R. Zera, who says: The rabbis make it unlawful because of the lack of shadow, and in a booth four ells square there is a shadow. And according to whom is the following saying of R. Harman b. Rabha in the name of Rabha: They (the sages and R. Jehudah) differ when the booth is only of a size to accommodate a man's head and greater part of body, and his table; but if it is of a larger size, then if it is higher than twenty ells, is it also valid? It is not, according to any one. An objection was raised: We have learned in a Boraitha: A booth which is higher than twenty ells is not valid. R. Jehudah, however, makes it valid, even if its height is forty or fifty ells; and he said: It happened that the Queen Helen, in the city of Lud, was sitting in a booth which was higher than twenty ells, and the older sages were entering and going out of it, and they did not object. And the sages answered him: This is not proof. She was a woman, and it is not obligatory for a woman to sit in a booth at all. And he rejoined: Everybody knows that she had seven male children; and besides this, all her acts were only in accordance with the will of the sages.
Now, it is right according to him who said that they differ in a case where the walls of the booth do not reach the roof, because usually a queen is sitting in a booth whereof the walls reach not the roof, that air may come in; but according to him who said that even in case of a small booth they differ, is it customary that a queen should sit in a small booth? Said Rabba bar R. Adda: The case was of a booth separated into chambers. But is it customary that a queen should sit in a booth separated into chambers? Said R. Ashi: Yea, the case was that of a large booth with chambers, and the sages differ about the chambers. They hold that she sat in a separate chamber, but her children were sitting in a lawful booth, and therefore the elders did not object; but R. Jehudah said, her children sat with her, and nevertheless they did not object.
R. Samuel bar Itz'hak said: The halakhah prevails that the booth must be large enough to accommodate the head, the greater part of the body, and a table. Said R. Abha to him: According to whose opinion is this? And he answered: It is according to Beth Shammai, and nevertheless one shall not deviate from this law. R. Na'hman bar Itz'hak opposed this: Where do you find that Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel differ about a small booth? Perhaps they differ about a large booth, and the case was that the man was sitting at the entrance of the booth, and the table was in the house. Beth Shammai prohibit this as a precautionary measure, lest he incline himself toward the table, and then he will not be sitting in the Succah at all, and Beth Hillel does not call for such a precautionary measure. And a support to this I can bring from the following Boraitha: If one whose head and greater part of body was in the booth, and his table was in the house, Beth Shammai say it is not lawful, and according to Beth Hillel it is. Now, if they differed about the size of the booth, it should be said: if one sat in a booth which cannot contain more than the head and greater part of the body. And another Boraitha stated that Rabbi says if a booth does not contain four ells square it is invalid; but the sages say, if it contains the space for the head and the greater part of the body it is valid? Nay, they differ in both cases, and the Boraitha is not complete, and must be read thus: if one was sitting with his head and greater part of his body in the booth, and the table was in the house, he did not fulfil his duty, according to Beth Shammai; but Beth Hillel say he did, and a booth which cannot contain more than the greater part of the body and the head is unlawful, according to Beth Shammai; but Beth Hillel say it is.
Who is the Tana of the following teaching of the rabbis: In a house which is not four ells square, it is not obligatory to have a Mezuzah (a battlement), 1 and it is not subject to being defiled by plagues, and it is retained at the jubilee year in a fortified town [Lev. xxv. 29], and a man possessing such a new house must not be kept from going to war, and an Erub must not be made in it, and it is not counted as a house to combine with the houses of the alley, and an Erub (from the courts) must not be deposited in it, and it must not be regarded as a house on the border between two towns, and brothers and partners do not divide it? Shall we assume it is according to Rabbi, not the sages? Nay, we can say that it is in accordance even with the sages. Do the sages allow a dwelling of less than this size? Only when it is a Succah which is temporary; but a house which is a permanent dwelling even the sages agree must be at least four ells square. Then men can live in it; but if less, it is not called a house at all.
If the booth was higher than twenty ells, and one put in pillows and feather-beds, it is not considered as made lower thereby; even when he renounces their use for any other purposes, because we ignore his resolve, as people in general do not do it. But if one puts there straw, and renounces it, it is considered as made lower; and so much the more, loose earth. But if one puts there straw which he does not renounce, although he does not purpose to remove it, and also sand, which he does not renounce--in that case Jose and the sages differ (Tract Ahaloth, Chap. xv. 6). If the booth was higher than twenty ells, and from the roofing hung down small twigs, then if they are so numerous that there is more shadow than sunshine, they are considered to make it lower; but if less than that, they do not make it lower. If it was high only ten spans, and small twigs hung down from the roof, Abayi thought that if there was more sun than shadow between the twigs, it m-as valid. Said Rabha to him: It is an unendurable dwelling, and nobody would live in it. (Therefore it is not valid.)
If it was higher than twenty ells, and one constructed in it a bench along the whole middle wall, if the bench is as large as the legal size of a booth (seven spans and a trifle), then the booth is valid (the whole booth because of a crooked wall); but if he constructed a bench along a side-wall, if from the edge of the bench to the opposite wall it is four ells, it is not valid; but if less than this, it is valid (because the bench legalizes two walls, the third being without the legal limit). If he constructed a bench in the midst of the booth, if from the edge of the bench to each of the walls it is four ells, it is not valid; but if less, it is valid, because of a crooked wall on all sides. If, however, he put the bench on one side, then if it is less than four ells of the wall, it is valid (because of a crooked wall on one side); but if it is four ells, it is not. If the booth was less than ten spans in height, and he dug in it a pit to make it ten spans high, if from the edge of this pit to the wall is three spans, it is invalid; but less than that, it is valid. Why, then, in the case when it is twenty ells high, are less than four ells needed to make it valid, while here, when it is ten spans high, less than three spans are needed? Because there a wall is in existence, and to make it invalid one must have four ells; but in the case of ten spans, the wall is not considered a wall at all, and to make it a wall less than three spans are wanted (because then it is Lavud, i.e., considered as attached to the ground of the pit when it would be ten spans high). (See Sabbath, p. 12, note §.)
The rabbis taught: If one has placed four poles and roofed them, according to R. Jacob, it is valid in cases when the poles admit of partition, as will be explained further, for a booth, but according to the sages it is invalid. Said R. Huna: They differ only about the edge of the roof. R. Jacob holds the theory of Gud Assik (see Erubin, note, p. 6) applies here, and the sages hold that it does not. But about the middle of the roof they all agree it is invalid. R. Na'hman, however, said: They differ even about the middle of the roof. The schoolmen propounded a question: Does R. Na'hman mean to say they differ about the middle, but about the sides all agree that it is valid? Or does he mean to say, they differ even about the middle? This question is not decided.
The rabbis taught: If one drove into the ground four poles and roofed them, R. Jacob said, it should be seen whether each of the poles is so thick that if it would be divided it would reach a span on each side (see illustration of enclosures, Erubin, p. 18), then they must be considered as enclosures and the booth is valid; but if they have not such a thickness, it is not valid. And this is according to his theory elsewhere, that the enclosures of a booth must be not less than a span at each side. But the sages said, the booth is not valid unless there are two walls as usually; and the third wall is sufficient, even if it is one span.
"If less than ten spans." Whence is this deduced? It was taught: Rabh and Mar Hanina, R. Johanan and R. Habiba, taught
[in the whole section of Moed, whenever these names are mentioned, they put R. Jonathan in the place of R. Johanan], the ark was nine spans, and the cover to it one span, together it is ten. As it is written [Ex. xxv. 22]: "And I will meet with thee there, and I will speak with thee from above the cover." And we have learned in another Boraitha: R. Jose said that the Shekhina never descended, and Moses and Elijah never ascended the heaven. As it is written [Psalms, cxv. 16]: "The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth hath he given to the children of man"; but is it not written [Ex. xix. 20]: "And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai"? And the answer is, that He did not come down lower than ten spans 1 from the ground. (Now, when He says, "I will speak to thee from above the cover," that means ten spans higher. From this we see that ten spans are counted as separate premises; hence ten spans is the minimum height of a dwelling.)
It is true, the ark is nine spans, because it is written [Ex. xxv. 10]: "And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two ells and a half shall be its length, and one ell and a half its breadth, and an ell and a half its height" (and as an ell is six spans, the height of one and a half is nine spans). But where do we find that the cover is one span? From the teaching of R. Hanina as follows: Of all the utensils that Moses made, the Law had prescribed before the length, the breadth, and the height. In case of the cover, however, the length and the breadth are written, but not the height; and we must go and draw this lesson from the meanest of the utensils, as it is written [ibid., ibid. 25]: "And thou shalt make unto it a rim of a hand's breadth round about." As the height of the rim is a span, we infer that the height of the cover is also a span. But why from the meanest of the utensils--why not from the utensils themselves? Because there is a rule, when much is grasped at, nothing is grasped; but when little is grasped, it is retained. R. Huna said: We infer it from this passage [Lev. xvi. 14]: "On the face of the cover, eastward"; if less than a span, it would not be called face. But where do we find that the distance between the roof and ground should be ten spans? Perhaps the roof itself should be included? Therefore we say this theory they draw from the Temple; as it is written [in I Kings, vi. 2]: "And the house which King Solomon built unto the Lord was sixty ells in length, and twenty in breadth, and thirty ells in height"; and [ibid., ibid. 26]: "The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was the other"; and a Boraitha states, as we have found in the Temple, that the cherubim were a third of the height of the house, so also in the tabernacle in the desert they were one-third. Now, the height of the tabernacle was ten ells, as it is written [Ex. xxvi. 16]: "Ten ells shall be the length of each board." How many spans are in ten ells? Sixty. A third thereof is twenty: take off ten, which was the height of the ark with the cover, ten is left. And it is written [ibid. xxv. 20]: "And the cherubim shall spread forth their wings on high, overshadowing the cover." Hence we see that the Torah calls "overshadowing" when above ten spans. Therefore we infer that the roofing overshadowing the booth must be above the ten spans.
This would be right according to R. Meir, who said that all the ells mentioned in the Torah measure six spans; but according to R. Jehudah, who says that the ells of a building measured six spans, but other ells only five spans, what can be said? If so, the ark with its cover would be only eight and a half: then remain for the cherubim eleven and a half. Shall we say that the booth must be high at least eleven and a half? According to R. Jehudah the size of a booth is (Sinaic). (As it is said in Tract Erubin, p. 5)
"One which has not three walls." The rabbis taught: Two walls must be as usually, but the third one may be even one span. R. Simeon, however, said: Three must be as usually, and the fourth one may be a span. In what point do they differ? The rabbis hold, the bases are the Massorah (i.e., if we came to draw something from Scripture the basis must be the Massorah) and as [in Lev. xxiii.] "in booths" is mentioned three times, and the Hebrew term for this is במכת, במכת, במוכות 1 that is, two of them are written in the singular and one in plural, and from each term in the singular we infer the necessity of one wall, and from the term in the plural two, which make four: take off one expression intended as a commandment to make booths in general, we infer from the two which are superfluous the necessity of three walls; that is, two as usually, and the third one the tradition reduces to a span in case it is valid. But according to R. Simeon the basis must be the biblical words as they read; and as all three read in the plural, we infer the necessity of six walls: take off one term as a general commandment, we have left four; hence three must be as usually, and the fourth tradition reduces to one span. And if you wish, we will say: that all agree that the basis must be the Massorah, but the point whereon they differ is, one holds that the first verse, where the commandment is written, we also take into consideration to infer the necessity of a wall--consequently it is four walls; and one holds that the first must not be taken into consideration, and it is only three. R. Mathua said: R. Simeon infers his theory from the following passage [Isa. iv. 6]: "And a tabernacle shall it be for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a refuge, for a covert from tempest and from rain" (i.e., if it is not three walls, it cannot be a protection from wind, etc.).
Where shall be placed the wall which is one span wide? Said Rabh: One may place it where one wall ends, no matter which; it was taught that the same was said by Samuel in the name of Levi, and so also it was decided in the college. R. Simon, and according to others R. Joshuah b. Levi, said: The wall which is a span shall be wide as a span made by the palm when extended, and one shall place it at a distance of less than three spans from another wall, so that the theory of Lavud should apply.
R. Jehudah said: A booth that was made as an entry is valid (the two walls need not be adjacent, but may be opposite, while the wall of one span can be placed at any side one likes). R. Simeon, and according to others R. Joshuah b. Levi, said: Such a booth is lawful only when one places an enclosure four spans and a trifle wide, and at a distance of less than three spans from the wall, so that the theory of Lavud can apply: then it will be counted together seven spans and a trifle, which is the lawful width for a booth. Why is it said there that it is sufficient when it is wide as an extended span, and here that an enclosure of four spans is needed? There, where there were two walls, as usually, a span is enough; but here, in which case they are opposite, an enclosure of at least four spans is required. Said Rabha: And to it must be added an appearance of a door (on the other side). R. Ashi found R. Kahna, who made a third wall extended a span wide, and on the other side an appearance of a door; and he said to him: Does not the Master hold with Rabha, who said that an appearance of a door is sufficient for a third wall? And he answered: I hold with the saying of Rabha, as it is interpreted above, that an appearance of a door must be added too.
Again: "Two walls as usually," etc. Said Rabha: This booth is considered private ground in reference to a Sabbath falling in the Feast of Tabernacles, so that things may be carried from another private ground into this booth, and vice versa (although for a legal private ground three walls are needed), because as the two walls are considered a Succah, it is considered also private ground for this Sabbath. Rabha said again: If one has made a roof above an entry which has a side-beam, it is valid for a booth. 1 And the same said again: If one has roofed the enclosure of a w ell (see illustration in Erubin, p. 18), it may be used as a booth.
"If there is more sun than shadow, it is not valid." The rabbis taught: If there is more sunshine than shadow from the roof, but not from the walls. R. Joshiah, however, said: Even if it is more sunshine from the walls, it is also invalid. Said R. Yemar bar Shlomiah in the name of Abayi: What is the reason of R. Joshiah's decree? Because it is written [ Ex. xl. 3]: "Thou shalt cover the ark with a vail"; now the vail was a partition, and the Torah says: "Thou shalt cover with it"; we may infer from this, the partition shall be equal in law to the cover (or roof). And what will the rabbis say to the query of R. Joshiah? The rabbis explained the expression, "Thou shalt cover it," that it means he shall fold the vail a little towards the ark, so that it shall seem as a cover.
Abayi said: Rabbi, R. Joshiah, R. Jehudah, R. Simeon, and Rabban Gamaliel, the school of Shammai, R. Eliezer, and the anonymous teachers all hold that a booth must be considered not as a temporary but as a permanent dwelling. (Rashi explains that it means that it should be possible to turn it into a permanent dwelling.) Rabbi, as we have learned above, that a Succah that was not four ells square is invalid; R. Joshiah, from the statement just mentioned; R. Jehudah, as he declares valid a booth which is higher than twenty ells; R. Simeon, as he requires four walls (three as usually, and one, one span wide); Rabban Gamaliel, as he declares invalid (farther on) a booth constructed on board a vessel or on a wagon; Beth Shammai, as they declare in a Mishna, farther on, that it is invalid if it can contain a man's head and greater part of body, while his table is in a house; R. Eliezer, as he declared a Succah constructed in the shape of a pyramid is invalid; and the anonymous teachers, who declare invalid a circular Succah.
R. Johanan said: A booth which is made like a lime-kiln (i.e., round), if its circumference is large enough that twenty-four persons may sit at the walls, it is valid; but if not, it is; invalid. 1 And this teaching is according to Rabbi, who said that a booth which is not four ells square is not considered a booth at all.
R. Levi in the name of R. Meir said: Of two booths of potters which are one within the other, the innermost is not valid-for a legal booth, and is liable to have a Mezuzah, but the outermost may be used as a legal booth, and needs not a Mezuzah. Why so? Let the outer one be considered as a passage to the innermost, and a passage is not exempt from a Mezuzah? Because of both booths the outer one is only temporary, and it is exempt from a Mezuzah.
The rabbis taught: The booths of strangers, made only for the summer, booths for women (to make the toilet), booths made for animals, or booths made by Samaritans for the feast, and everything whatever called a booth is valid as a religious tabernacle, provided that it is roofed according to the Law. What is meant, "according to the Law"? Said R. Hisda: If it was roofed for this end, what is meant by the saying: "Anything whatever that is called a booth is valid"? To include the booths of shepherds, of those who watch dried figs, watchmen outside of the towns, and of those who watch fruit (all these are booths if they are roofed according to the Law, and are valid for religious purposes).
MISHNA: An old Succah, Beth Shammai hold, is not valid, but Beth Hillel hold it is valid. What is called an old. Succah? One which was constructed thirty days before the festival; but if it has been constructed on purpose for the festival, even though it be one year old, it is valid.
GEMARA: What is the reason of Beth Shammai's opinion? It is written [Lev. xxiii. 34]: "The feast of the booths shall be seven days unto the Lord." From this we infer that the booths must be made for the purpose of the feast. And what would Beth Hillel say to this passage? They infer from it another theory in accordance with R. Shesheth, who says in the name of R. Aqiba: Whence do we know that the wood that was used for the booths, must not be used for another purpose all the seven days? Because it is written: "The feast of the booths shall be seven days unto the Lord." And we have learned in a Boraitha: R. Jehudah b. Bethyra said: In the same manner that the name of the Lord rests on the feast-offering (and this prohibits the eating of the feast-offering till the pieces are offered on the altar), so does the name of the Lord rest on the booth, to prohibit the use of the material of which it is constructed during the seven days. But did not Beth Shammai also infer this prohibition from the same passage? Yea, we must therefore say that the reason of Beth Shammai is another passage [Deut. xvi. 13]: "A feast of tabernacle . . . seven days." Infer from this that the booth must be made for this purpose. And what do Beth Hillel infer from the above passage? They infer from it that a Succah may be made during the intermediate days also, while Beth Shammai do not allow it.
MISHNA: If one constructs his Succah under a tree, it is the same as if he made it in his house (under the roof). Should he construct one Succah above another, the upper one is valid, but the lower one is not. R. Jehudah says: Should the upper one not be inhabited, the lower one is valid.
GEMARA: Rabha said: The Mishna refers only to a tree under which there is more shadow than sunshine; but if the sunshine is more than the shadow, it is valid. And I infer this, because the Mishna teaches that a booth which was made under a tree is as if made in a house, why does it express it thus? Let it say, it is invalid? We must therefore assume that it means: As in a roofed house there is more shadow than sunshine, so is it also under a tree, under which the same is the case. But if there is more sunshine than shadow, what is the use, since the branches of the tree, which are invalid, will combine with the roofing of the: booth to shut out the sunshine, and thus make the Succah invalid? Said R. Papa: The case is when one has cut off the branches. If they have been cut off, is it not self-evident that the booth is valid? One might say, we shall take a precautionary measure (lest any make it under a tree which has its branches) and he comes to teach us that such precautionary measures are not to be taken.
"One Succah. above another," etc. The rabbis taught: It is written [Lev. xxiii. 22]: "Ye shall sit in booths." We may infer, in booths, but not in a booth which is under a booth, or under a tree, or in a house. On the contrary, it is written in the "booths" in the plural (that can mean, in this and in that)? Said R. Na'hman bar Itz'hak: It reads plural, but it is written in the singular.
What distance must be between the upper and the lower Succah, that the second should be invalid? Said R. Huna: One span, as we find this measure in the law of defilement (Ahaloth, Chap. III. 7): R. Hisda and Rabba bar R. Huna both said: Four spans. The reason is, that we do not find any distance considered to be of any significance if it is less than four spans. Samuel, however, said:-Ten; and his reason is, that as to make it valid it must be no less than ten spans, so as make it invalid there must be ten spans. When R. Dimi came from Palestine, he said that in the west they so interpret: If the roof of the lower one could not bear the pillows and feather-beds of the upper one, then the lower is valid. From this we may infer that the first Tana holds that, although the lower one cannot bear the pillows in the upper one, it is nevertheless invalid? We may say that the difference between the first Tana and the sages is in a case in which the roof of the lower one could bear it, but not easily (according to him it is invalid, according to them it is valid).
MISHNA: If a cloth be spread over the (roof of the Succah as a screen) against the sun, or below (the roof, inside) to catch the falling leaves, or if one spread a cloth over a (four-post) bed-tester, the Succah is not valid, but one may spread a cloth over two bed-posts.
GEMARA: Said R. Hisda: The case is if one spread a cloth to catch leaves; but if he did it only for ornament, it is allowed. Is not this self-evident? Did not the Mishna say plainly "to catch leaves"? One might say the same is the case when it is an ornament also, but the Mishna mentioned a thing, it is usually so done; he comes to teach it is not so. It was taught: That such ornaments do not make it lower (if it was more than twenty ells high, it is not lowered thereby, or if it was ten spans they do not make it invalid). Said R. Ashi: But if the cloth was hung before a side-wall, it makes it smaller. It happened once that the shirt of Menymin, the servant of R. Ashi, was soaked in water, and he spread it on the roof of the booth to dry. Said R. Ashi to him: Take it off, for one might say, we cover the roof with a thing which is subject to defilement. But everybody will see that it is wet? I mean to say, that when it will be dry, you shall take it off.
It was taught: If the ornaments of the Succah are four spans under the roof, R. Na'hman said the Succah is valid, but R. Hisda and Rabha bar R. Huna both say it is invalid. But sages were once the guests of the exilarch, and R. Na'hman made them sleep in a booth where the ornaments were four spans beneath the roof; and they kept silent, and said nothing. Then he asked them: Did the Masters retract their decision? And they answered: We are delegates for a religious purpose, and therefore we are free from the duty of a Succah.
R. Jehudah in the name of Samuel said: One may sleep in a nuptial bed, because its canopy is not considered as a roof (being slanting) even when it is ten spans high. An objection was raised: We have learned, who sleeps under a canopy in a booth does not fulfil his duty? There is the case when the canopy is not of a nuptial bed, but different, like a roof. Rabha bar R. Huna lectured: One may sleep under a canopy, although it is like the roof, and high ten spans; and it is according to R. Jehudah, who said that a temporary tent cannot make a permanent one be ignored, as we have learned in a Mishna. R. Jehudah said: Our custom was to sleep in the booth under the bed in the presence of the elders. But let him say: The halakhah prevails according to R. Jehudah? If he would say so, one might say it is only the case with a bed because it is made to be slept on, but not underneath it (and therefore cannot make the permanent tent ignored); but in the case of a bed with a canopy, which was made for sleeping in, it may be thought different. Therefore he teaches us there is no difference.
MISHNA: If one has trained a vine, or gourd, or ivy over the booth, and covered it, it is not valid; but should the covering be the greater part of the roof (and they the smaller part), or if they had been cut off, it is valid. This is the rule: Everything subject to defilement, and not growing from the ground, must not be used as a roof to the booth; but everything not subject to defilement, and growing from the ground, may be used.
GEMARA: R. Joseph was sitting in the presence of R. Huna, and said: To the Mishna which says, if they are cut off, the Succah is valid. Said Rabh: They (the remainder of the roof) must nevertheless be shaken (after having been cut off). Said R. Huna to him: This said Samuel. R. Joseph turned away his face from him and said: Did I say to you Samuel did not say it? I told You Rabh said, and Samuel may have said it also. Rejoined R. Huna: But I tell you that only Samuel said it, and not Rabh, because, according to the latter, it is valid without shaking, as it happened once that R. Amram the Pious made fringes [Num. xv. 38] on the garment of his wife, but he did not cut asunder the heads of the thread; and later, when he came to ask about it, R. Hiya b. Ashi said to him: So said Rabh: The cutting asunder of the thread, this makes the fringes lawful. From this we see that according to Rabh the cutting off makes it valid, though nothing but this was done. And the same is the case here also. Cutting off makes valid. Shall we assume that the point of difference between the Tanaim of the following Boraitha is the same as that of Rabh and Samuel? Namely, we have learned in an addition to the Mishna: If a myrtle bough has more berries than leaves, it is invalid till the latter are made fewer; but it is not allowed to do so on a festival (Succah, Chap. III.). If, however, one transgressed, and cut off the berries on a festival, the myrtle bough is invalid according to R. Simeon b. R. Jehozodok, but is valid according to the sages. Now, the schoolmen thought the point on which R. Simeon and the sages differ is whether the cutting is a final preparation, for they thought all agree that the Lulab should be tied together n the beginning with the other branches, drawing a lesson from the Succah, about which it is said: "Ye shall make," i.e., you shall commence to make, but not use what is made already. And R. Simeon says it is invalid, because he does not regard the cutting as a final preparation, and the Lulab, being tied with an invalid myrtle, is invalid; but the sages hold the cutting is a final preparation, and therefore the Lulab is valid. Hence the point whereon they differ is the same as that whereon Rabh and Samuel differ: whether the cutting off is a final preparation (and then shaking is not needed) or not. Nay, all agree that the cutting off is not considered a final preparation, but R. Simeon and the sages differ whether the Lulab has to be tied together at all, or not; R. Simeon maintains that it must, and the sages say, it must not; as we find in a Boraitha that the sages make no difference whether it was tied or not, and only R. Jehudah maintained that if untied it is invalid. But according to whom would be the following teaching: There is a merit in tying the Lulab; it is, however, valid if it is untied? This is in accordance with the rabbis, and the merit is because it is nicer when tied, as it is explained elsewhere that the word [Ex. xv. 2] ואנוהו means, "beautify your religious performances for the Lord's sake."
"This is the rule: everything subject to defilement," etc. Whence is all this deduced? Said Resh Lakish: It is written [Gen. ii. 6]: "But there went up a mist from the earth." As a mist is not subject to defilement, and ascends from the earth, so also must the Succah be a thing not subject to defilement, and growing from the earth. This would be right according to those who said that the booths in the desert were of clouds of glory; but according to those who say that they were ordinary booths, what can be said? Namely, as we learn in the following Boraitha: It is written [Lev. xxxiii. 43]: "I caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths": these were clouds of glory, R. Eliezer said. But R. Aqiba said: They were ordinary booths. Said R. Ashi: It is written [Deut. xxi. 13]: "Of thy threshing-floor and wine-press." Of thy threshing-floor, but not the threshing-floor itself; from thy wine-press, but not the wine-press itself. R. Hisda said: From the following passage [Nehem. viii. 15]: "Go forth unto the mountain and fetch olive leaves, and oleaster leaves, and myrtle leaves, and palm leaves, and leaves of the three-leaved myrtle, to make booths, as it is written." Are not the leaves of the myrtle and those of the three-leaved myrtle the same? Said R. Hisda: The myrtle leaves for the Succah, and the three-leaved myrtle for a Lulab.
MISHNA: Bundles of straw, of wood, and of twigs must not be used to cover the Succah; all of these are become valid, however, if the bundles are loosed. As side-walls, however, all of these may be used.
GEMARA: R. Jacob said: I have heard from R. Johanan two things which he explained to me, namely: the above Mishna, and the Mishna farther on, "Should one hollow out a space in a stack (of sheaves) to use it as a Succah, it is not considered such." Of one of them he says the reason is that it is only a precautionary measure, lest one make his storehouse for a Succah, which biblically is allowed; and of the other he said the reason is, because it is written: "Ye shall make," from which we infer, it must not be ready-made (and this is biblical). But I don't know for which Mishna the reasons are respectively given. Said R. Jeremiah: Let us see. R. Hiya bar Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: Why is it prohibited to cover with bundles of straw, wood, or twigs? Because it may happen a man comes from the field in the evening with his bundle on the shoulder and puts it on the roof for the purpose of drying, and later he resolves to leave it there as a roof to the booth, and it is said, "Ye shall make it," but not have ready-made. Now, as we see that the reason for this is biblical, that for our Mishna must be a precautionary measure, Then why was R. Jacob doubtful? Because he had not heard the saying of R. Hiya in R. Johanan's name. Said R. Ashi: What is the difference? Does, then, the law, "shall make," apply only to our Mishna, and not to the other Mishna farther on, or does the precautionary measure apply only to the other Mishna, and not to ours? Both are alike (and why, then, does he make a difference between them?). R. Johanan can say that his teaching is correct, because our Mishna states, they must not cover it; that means, to commence it, and it is a precautionary measure, but if he has covered, it is valid. But there it is said, It is not a Succah, even after it has been covered; it is even biblically not a Succah.
Said Rabha bar bar Hana: I have heard in the name of R. Johanan three things: If he has roofed it with bundles of flax it is invalid, but if with unsoaked flax, it is valid; and as for Hushne [meaning uncertain] flax, I am in doubt about it. Rabha bar bar Hana added to this: What he meant by Hushne flax, I don't understand. Does he mean, flax soaked and dried, but not brushed; or brushed already, but not made into bundles?
R. Hanan bar Abba said: With thorns and weeds a Succah may be covered. Abayi, however, said, if they have no leaves, one may; but if they have leaves, one must not. Why so? Because, when the leaves fall down, this will trouble him, and he will leave the booth and go out. R. Gidl said in the name of Rabh: The roots of a tree may be used to cover with, although they are intertwined, because a bundle made by nature is not called a bundle. And even if he tied together the extremities, he may nevertheless use them, because as at the base they intertwine naturally, the bundle at the top is not considered such.
R. Hisda in the name of Rabbina b. Shila said: Branches (stalks) of διχρα may be used for covering, though they are intertwined, because a bundle made by nature is not considered as a bundle. And although one ties them together himself, he may nevertheless use them, because as at the base they intertwine naturally, the bundle at the top is not considered such. So also we have learned in a Boraitha: The stalks of διχρα may be used as covering.
Maremar lectured: The bundles they sell out in the market in Syria may be used to cover, although they are tied together, because they tied them only to know the number. Huts of reeds, used by fowlers, if they are untied at the top, may be used as a covering for a booth although they are yet tied together below? Said R. Papa: One loosens them at the bottom also. R. Huna the son of R. Joshuah, however, said: Even if they were not untied at the base, they also may be used, because a bundle that cannot hold together is not called a bundle.
R. Abba said in the name of Samuel: If of herbs by which the sages said a man can fulfil his duty to eat bitter herbs on Passover was made a tent, they bring defilement, when a corpse or part of a corpse was in it, to all vessels that are in the tent; but if a partition was made of them they do not prevent the defilement to spread further, and if they are used to cover a Succah, they make it invalid, because when they become dry they crumble and fall. Therefore, even if they are wet, they are considered not to exist at all, and in place of a roof an empty piece of space.
MISHNA: One may cover with thin boards, according to R. Jehudah, but R. Meir prohibits it. If one has put a deal board four spans wide over the booth, it is valid, provided that one sleep not under it (the board).
GEMARA: Said Rabh: They differ only about boards that are four spans wide. R. Meir prohibits it as a precautionary measure, lest he come to make a ceiling, and R. Jehudah does not take this measure; but if they were less than four spans, all agree that it may be used. Samuel, however, says, on the contrary: They differ only if it is less than four spans; but if more, all agree it is prohibited. If it is less than four spans and even less than three (they differ), how can it be? Is it not considered a stick? Said R. Papa: Samuel meant to say thus: If it is four spans, all agree it is not valid; less than three, all agree it is valid. They differ only from three to four; one holds because it is not of the prescribed size (four spans), it is valid, because they are considered as sticks; and another holds, as it is more than three, to which the theory of Lavud cannot apply, we take the precautionary measure. Come and hear: Two sheets, if put in the middle of the roof, each of which is less than four, but whose combined width is four spans or more, make the booth invalid; but two boards of the same sizes do not combine to make it invalid. R. Meir, however, said: The same is the case with both. It would be right according to Samuel, who said that they differ when it is less than four spans; but if it is four spans, all agree it is invalid, because then it would be explained that the combined width makes the Succah invalid if it is on the side of the roof (attached to a wall), and their combined width is four ells, not four spans (for otherwise, if the roof is by the wall, it is valid up to four ells because it is considered as a crooked wall continued). But according to Rabh's opinion, this can be only according to R. Meir;. but according to R. Jehudah, what can be meant by the expression "combined width," since according to him, if they are less than four spans, they are considered sticks? R. Jehudah does not mean combined width, but only uses the same expression as R. Meir (without a particular meaning).
We have learned in a Boraitha according to Rabh, and in another Boraitha according to Samuel: according to Rabh, if one has covered the Succah with boards of cedar that are less than four spans wide, all agree they are valid; but if they are four spans, R. Meir makes it invalid, and R. Jehudah makes it valid. Said R. Jehudah: It happened once, in a time of danger, we brought boards four spans wide, and roofed a balcony and used it as a Succah, and the sages answered him: A dangerous time does not prove. According to Samuel: If one has roofed the booth with cedar boards four spans wide, all agree it is invalid; if less, according to R. Meir, it is invalid; according to R. Jehudah, valid. R. Meir agrees, however, that if there was between one board and the other the width of a board, one may lay between anything fit, and the Succah is valid. And R. Jehudah agrees, that if one board was wide four spans, it is valid, but one must not sleep under it, and who does so does not fulfil the duty of a Succah.
It was taught: If one placed the boards on their edges on the Succah, R. Huna said the booth is invalid, but R. Hisda and Rabba bar R. Huna both said it is valid. It happened once R. Na'hman came to Sura: R. Hisda and Rabba bar R. Huna visited him and asked him the law about the boards in question, and he said: They are considered as iron spits, and certainly invalid. Said R. Huna to them: Did I not tell you that R. Na'hman agrees with me? And they answered him: Did the Master explain to us the reason of this, and we did not accept it? Rejoined R. Huna: Did you ask me for the reason, and I did not tell it to you?
MISHNA: If small rafters, over which is no ceiling, are to be used for a booth, R. Jehudah says: Beth Shammai hold, the rafters must be loosened, and the middle one out of every three removed. But Beth Hillel hold: One must either loosen them, or else remove one of every three. R. Meir says: One must remove one out of three, but one need not loosen.
GEMARA: It is right according to Beth Hillel, as their reason is because it is written: "Ye shall make," and not have ready-made. Hence either of the two is sufficient. But what is the reason of Beth Shammai? If the reason is the same, why must he do both? Is not one sufficient? It is as a precautionary measure, and Beth Shammai meant to say thus: Although one has loosened, it is not valid until he removes one of every three. If it is so, then Beth Shammai said the same as R. Meir. R. Meir meant to say, Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel did not differ, if one has removed same, though they were not loosened.
MISHNA: If one roofs his booth with iron spits, or with boards of a bedstead, if there is as wide a space between them (covered with anything fit) as one of them, it is valid. If one should hollow out a space in a stack (of sheaves) to use it as a Succah (although of the prescribed size), it is not considered as a Succah at all.
GEMARA: Shall we assume that the decision of R. Huna the son of R. Joshuah, who says, that if the open spaces of a fence equal the fence proper it is not valid (Erubin, p. 35), contradicts this Mishna? R. Huna can explain the Mishna, that it means an interspace a trifle wider than the spit or board itself, so as to allow it to be taken out and replaced without difficulty. But can it not be made precisely to fit? (Rashi explains this question thus: At the first glance the answer of R. Huna is that, whenever the thing is mentioned to be of the same width, it is meant to be a trifle less wide, so as to be removed without difficulty: and to this comes the question, why should it be so made? can it not be made to fit precisely? And to this question the answer of R. Ammi will be farther on. But Tospheth oppose to this another explanation, which is still more complicated, and we have therefore translated the text literally.) Said R. Ammi: Yea, but this Mishna means, it is only valid then, when it is a trifle more. Rabba, however, said: The Mishna can be explained even if it was precisely; but if it was laid lengthwise, it should be placed crosswise, and vice versa (and above them the lawful roofing, so that the fit must be more than the unfit roofing, and thus the fit portion above neutralizes the unfit portion below).
"With boards of a bedstead." Shall we assume that this is a support to R. Ammi bar Tibiumi, who said that if one covered the Succah with broken utensils it is invalid? Nay, the Mishna can be explained as R. Hanan said in the name of Rabbi. If the side-board of the bedstead was laid with two short boards, or two short boards with the side-board, which is subject to defilement (as will be explained, Kelim, Chap. XIX. 9). What is meant by broken utensils? Said Abayi: Remnants of silken togas, that measure less than three fingers square, and are of no value to either rich or poor (Sabbath, p. 272). We have learned in a Boraitha in accordance with R. Ammi bar Tibiumi: The remainders of a mat of bark or reeds, although they are less than of the prescribed size to be subject to defilement, must not be used to cover a Succah. A mat of sticks, if it is large, may be used to cover it (because a large one is only made for a covering, and is not a utensil subject to defilement); but if small, it may not. R. Eliezer, however, said, that even a large one is subject to defilement, and may not be used.
"If one should hollow," etc. R. Huna said: The case is, when there is no hole of the size of one span in length by seven in width; but if there was, it is a Succah. 1 We have learned so also in a Boraitha: If one hollows out a space in a stack to use it as a Succah, it is a Succah. And this Boraitha must be explained as the decree of R. Huna to prevent the contradiction to our Mishna.
MISHNA: If one suspends textile walls from the roof downwards, if they do not reach the ground within three spans, it is invalid. If they stand on the ground and are high ten spans, it is valid. R. Jose, however, said: Even when the walls do not reach the ground by more than three spans the law of ten spans applies to both cases (and in either case it is valid).
GEMARA: On what point do they differ? One holds that a hanging partition makes the Succah valid, and the other that it does not. We have learned in the Mishna in Erubin, Chap. VIII. p. 206, concerning a wall that was between two courts and a partition was made, and R. Jehudah said there: The partition is not more effectual than the wall which is between them. Said Rabba bar bar Hana, in the name of R. Johanan: R. Jehudah's decree there is of the same system as R. Jose's in our Mishna, who says that a hanging partition makes valid. In reality, however, it is not so. R. Jehudah does not agree with R. Jose, and vice versa. Because R. Jehudah, who allows it there, does so because Erubin of the courts are rabbinical; but here, in the case of the Succah, which is biblical, he would not allow it. And, on the contrary, R. Jose, who allows it here, does it because the Succah is only a positive commandment; but concerning Sabbath, where there is a capital punishment, he would not allow it. And if it be asked, What happened in Ziporeth (which will be related farther on), according to whose opinion was it? Not according to R. Jose, nor in accordance with R. Jehudah, but according to R. Ishmael bar Jose. Namely: When R. Dimi came from Palestine, he told that it happened once (in Ziporeth) that they had forgotten to bring the holy scrolls on the eve of Sabbath, and on the morrow they put sheets on the pillars and brought the holy scrolls, and read them (and these hanging partitions were made at the command of R. Ishmael).
R. Hisda in the name of Abimi said: A mat which is large four spans and a trifle can be used as a side-wall to the Succah. How shall it be placed? It shall be hung in the middle, less than three spans from the ground, and less than three spans from the roof, because we apply the law of Lavud to both places. Is not this self-evident? One may say that two Lavuds in one case do not apply, he comes to teach us that we may.
MISHNA: If the roof is three spans distant from the walls, the Succah is invalid. If the roof of a house was broken, and it was covered, then if there are four ells between the wall and the covering, it is invalid; but if less it is valid. The same is the case with a court surrounded by balconies. If the top of a large Succah was covered with something unfit, if it is distant four ells it is not valid.
GEMARA: Rabha said: I once found the rabbis of the college sitting and declaring: Air makes the Succah invalid with three spans, but unfit covering makes it invalid only with no less than four ells; and I said to them: Where do you find that air makes invalid with three spans? In our Mishna, which teaches if the roof was at a distance of three spans it is invalid? Then, learn also from it that unfit covering should not make the Succah invalid if it is less than four ells? as it teaches farther on, that a house whose roof was broken, and it was covered in the middle, if there is from the covering to the wall four ells, then it is invalid? And they answered: Leave alone this teaching, because Rabh and Samuel both said that this teaching is only because we consider it as a crooked wall. And I rejoined: If it is so, what would be according to your opinion? If there would be air less than three spans, and unfit covering less than four ells., in the same place, it certainly would be valid; but if one covered the vacant space with iron spits, it would make it invalid. Now, the air, which is so rigorous that it makes invalid by three spans, will not be equal to an invalid covering which is so lenient that it makes invalid only by four ells? And they said to me: And according to your theory, that unfit covering makes invalid only when it is four ells, how would the case be if empty air less than three spans were added to it? Would it not be valid? But if one puts iron spits over the empty place, would it not make it invalid? Now, then, does not the same question apply to your theory also? And I rejoined again: What comparison is this? In my opinion, unfit covering makes invalid with four ells, because that is the prescribed quantity, and the same is with air; and as both quantities are not equal, they do not combine together to make the Succah invalid. But according to your opinion, that the reason is not because it is a prescribed quantity, but because the roof is separated from the wall, then the question is, what is the difference whether it be separated from the wall by air less than three spans and unfit covering, or by iron spits and unfit covering? Said Abayi to him: And even according to the Master's opinion, that because the quantities are not equal they do not combine, this can be said only of a large Succah, where unfit covering makes not invalid unless it is four ells; but in a small Succah, where unfit covering makes it invalid with three spans, are not the quantities then equal? Consequently they must combine, even in a large Succah. Answered Rabha: In a small Succah it is not because the prescribed quantities are equal, but because the prescribed size for a Succah does not remain.
Abayi said: If there was air three spans wide in a large Succah, and one diminished it by sticks or iron spits, it is considered as diminished; but if it was a small Succah, if with sticks it is lawful, but with iron spits it is not. But this is the case only when it is near the wall. If in the middle of the roof, however, R. A'ha and Rabina differed: According to one, the law of Lavud applies also in the middle, and according to the other it can only be applied when they are at the side.
R. Jehudah bar Ilai lectured: If the roof of a house was broken, and one covered it with fit covering, it is valid for a Succah. Said R. Ishmael bar Jose to him: Rabbi, explain your decision, because my father had explained thus: If it is less than four ells from the wall, then it is valid; but if four or more, it is invalid. Again lectured the same: An abruma (a small fish not distinguishable from prohibited reptiles) is permitted. Said R. Ishmael to him: Rabbi, explain the decision, for so said my father: From one place it is permitted, from another it is not. Accordingly, Abayi said: The small fish called Tza'hntha (smelt), of the river Bab, are permitted (and from another not).
It was taught: If one has covered a balcony which has small pillars (less than three spans one from the other), it is valid for a Succah: but if it has no pillars, Abayi said it is valid, because the edge of the roof downward may be considered as making (forming) a wall; but Rabha said it is invalid, because he does not hold this theory. Said Rabha to Abayi: According to thee, who holdest this theory, even if the middle wall of the Succah was broken, let it also be valid, as the edge of the roof is considered to descend and make a wall. Said Abayi: I yield to thee in this point, because it looks like an open entry. An objection was raised from our Mishna: If a court is surrounded by balconies, etc., why? Let it also be considered that the edge of the roof makes it a wall? Rabha explained, in accordance with Abayi's opinion, that the case is that the edge projected not over the wall, but was even with it.
R. Ashi found R. Kahna, who had roofed a balcony that had no small pillars, and he asked him: Does not the Master hold what Rabha said, that when there are no pillars the Succah is invalid? And he took him outside and showed him that there were pillars not visible inside, but only outside; and it was taught in Erubin (p. 17), if it was seen from outside, and not from inside, it is regarded as a side-beam, and a side-beam is the same as a small pillar.
A Boraitha taught: A vestibule, outside of the booth, is considered as the booth itself. What is meant by this? Said Ullah: A vestibule formed by sticks projecting beyond the Succah. Are not three walls needed? When there are. But is it not needed that there be more shadow than sunshine? If there was. But is not a prescribed size needed? If it was. If so, what comes he to teach us? Lest one say, that because the Succah was made for sitting inside, shall the outside not be considered a Succah at all, he comes to teach us it is not.
MISHNA: If one makes a Succah in the form of a cone, or leans the roof against a wall, R. Eliezer says it is not valid, because it has no roof; but the sages declare it is valid.
GEMARA: A Boraitha taught: R. Eliezer admits, if one placed it one span over the ground, or separated it one span from the wall, the Succah is valid. What is the reason of the sages? for the theory of Lavud applies to them, and they are regarded as upright. They hold that the slanting parts of a tent are considered as the tent itself. Abayi found R. Joseph sleeping in a nuptial bed in a Succah. Said Abayi to him: According to whom do you do so? According to R. Eliezer? Then you left the majority of rabbis, and followed an individual. Answered he: The Boraitha teaches the contrary: That R. Eliezer makes it valid, but the sages say it is invalid. Rejoined Abayi: Then you leave a Mishna, and act according to a Boraitha. And he answered: The Mishna is written according to an individual's opinion, as we have learned in a Boraitha: if one makes a booth in the form of a cave, or leans the roof on a wall, R. Nathan said that R. Eliezer makes it invalid, because it has no roof, but the sages permit this.
MISHNA: A large reed mat made for sleeping on is subject to defilement, and a Succah must not be covered with it; but if it was made to cover a booth, it may be used, and is not subject to defilement. R. Eleazar said: There is no difference whether it is large or small, but only the use for which it was made is considered; if for sleeping, then it is subject to defilement, and must not be used; but in the other case, if for covering, it is not subject to defilement, and may be used.
GEMARA: Did not the Mishna contradict itself? In the first part it says, if it was made for sleeping, then it is subject to defilement, etc., but if the purpose for which it was made was not expressed, it must be considered as for a covering. And the second part says, "If it was made for a cover"; from this we may infer, if the purpose was not expressed we consider it for sleeping? Said R. Papa: In case of a small one, if the purpose was not expressed, all agree it may be considered as for sleeping; but in case of a large one, the first Tana holds that where no purpose was expressed it is considered to have been made for covering. But R. Eliezer holds, that even a large one is also usually made for sleeping, and the expression in the Mishna, "if it was made for sleeping," is to be explained so: if it was made, say it is for the purpose of sleeping, unless he expressed another purpose.
The rabbis taught: A mat made of bark or papyrus, if large, may be used for a cover; but if small, it may not. If it is of reeds, or hilath, a large one may be used for covering; but if they are woven together, it may not. R. Ishmael bar Jose said in the name of his father: Both may be used to cover, and the same said R. Dosa.
We have learned (Edioth, III. 4): "All hutzlahs 1 are liable to become unclean from a corpse, so is the decree of R. Dosa; but the sages said: They are liable to become unclean only by pressing." What are hutzlahs? Said R. Simeon bar Lakish: It means ordinary mats, and the same is according to his theory elsewhere, where he said: I would sacrifice myself to bring back to life R. Hiya and his children, because in the ancient time, when the Torah was forgotten by Israel, Ezra came from Babylon, and reëstablished it again; when afterwards it was again forgotten, Hillel the Babylonian came up from Babylon and restored it again; and when it was again forgotten, came R. Hiya and his children and restored it again. And they said to this: That R. Dosa and the sages did not differ about the mats of the city of Usha, that they are subject to defilement, and that the mats of Tiberia are not; what they do differ about is the mats of other places: one holds that because nobody sits on them, they are equal to those of Tiberia; and the others hold that because it can happen that somebody should sit upon them, they are equal to the mats of Usha.
We learned in a Boraitha: R. Hananiah said: When I came into the exile, I found an old man who said to me that to cover a Succah with a mat is lawful; afterwards, when I came to R. Joshuah my father's brother, he admitted this theory. Said R. Hisda: This is only when it is not seamed. Said Ullah: The mats from the city of Mehuzah, but for their scams, would be lawful to be used for covering. So also we have learned in a Boraitha: Mats may be used for covering, provided they have no seams.
10:1 The Gemara interprets this law by a geometric calculation how much space a person needs, and the relation of a circle and a square, with illustrations, which do not belong here, and therefore we omit.
20:1 The reason is because a hole of a span constitutes a legal tent in the law of defilement, and the covering above it is called roofing. Now, if one enlarged this hole to the size prescribed for a Succah, from the base upwards, so that he diminished the covering, he is considered to have made a new roofing and thus a new tent for this purpose, and it is a valid Succah. (Rashi.)
Sources: Sacred Texts