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Sukah 9


QUESTION: The Mishnah says that a Sukah below a tree is Pasul. In the Gemara, Rava says if the branches of the tree above the Sukah let through more sunlight than shade, then the Sukah is kosher. The Gemara asks why should the Sukah be kosher in such a case? Since the Sukah is below the tree, the branches of the tree (which are considered to be invalid Sechach) join the Sechach of the Sukah, making it Pasul!

Why should the invalid Sechach of the tree combine with the valid Sechach of the Sukah and invalidate it? If the Sukah's Sechach is valid and there is more shade than sunlight, in what way can the branches of the tree join the Sechach to invalidate it? If the Gemara means that the valid Sechach on the Sukah is considered as if it is not there because it is under the tree, then the Gemara should not have said that the branches of the tree are "Mitztaref" (combine) with the kosher Sechach, but that the branches of the tree are "Mevatel" (annul) the kosher Sechach!


(a) RASHI (DH v'Ha Ka Mitztaref, and 10a, DH Mahu d'Teima) seems to learn that the Sukah underneath the tree indeed has more shade than sunlight and is kosher by itself, and the Gemara is asking that the Sechach beneath the tree should be discounted. Why, then, does the Gemara say that the tree is "Mitztaref" with the kosher Sechach, and not that the tree is "Mevatel" it? Rashi understands that it is obvious that the Sechach beneath the tree is Batel -- that goes without saying. Once the Sechach underneath the tree is annulled, the branches of the tree (i.e. invalid Sechach) now replace the original kosher Sechach; as such, the tree is being Mitztaref to make the Sechach of the Sukah, and the majority of shade comes only from the combination of the invalid Sechach with the kosher Sechach. (PNEI YEHOSHUA, KORBAN NESANEL #100; see also HAGAHOS MAIMONINIYOS, Hilchos Sukah 5:70, for a different understanding of Rashi.)

This is also the opinion of the RIVA, cited by the ROSH (1:14) and the TUR (626), the RA'AVAD (2a), the RITVA and others.

(b) TOSFOS (DH Ha) says that the Mishnah is talking about a case where the Sukah's Sechach lets in more sunlight than shade, and only when combined with the branches of the tree above it is there more shade than sunlight. That is why the Gemara says that the Sukah is not valid if the shade comes only from a combination of the invalid Sechach with the kosher Sechach.

How did the Gemara know that the Mishnah is discussing a case of a Sukah in which the sunlight is more than the shade? The Gemara reasoned that if the shade is more than the sunlight, then it is obvious that a tree -- the branches of which let through more sunlight than they make shade -- cannot ruin the Sukah. Only if the object on top of the Sukah makes more shade can it ruin a Sukah (the Sechach of which also makes more shade), and then it will be considered a Sukah beneath another Sukah or a Sukah beneath a tree.

(c) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR suggests that we always look at which Sechach was placed there first. Normally, the tree was there before one built the Sukah. Since the tree was there before the Sukah, and the tree lets through more sunlight than shade, when one adds more Sechach to make the shade more than the sunlight, the Sukah is invalid, since part of the shade of the Sechach is created by a tree. It will remain an invalid Sukah no matter how much kosher Sechach is added afterwards, since the tree was part of the Sechach (which made a majority of shade) when the Sukah was originally built. If, on the other hand, one built a Sukah which had more shade than sunlight, and only afterward a tree was placed there (and the branches let through more sunlight than shade), the tree will have no effect, because the Sukah was already kosher. It may be assumed, though, that our Mishnah is discussing the more normal case when the tree preceded the Sukah. This is why the Gemara says that the tree should invalidate the Sukah, even if the Sukah now has more shade than sunlight.

According to the Ba'al ha'Me'or, what is the Gemara's answer to its question when it says that the Sukah beneath the tree is kosher "b'she'Chavtan" (when he lowered the branches down to the Sechach)? How does that help? If the Sechach above the Sukah was originally Pasul, then the Sukah should remain Pasul forever, as the Ba'al ha'Me'or posited!

The Ba'al ha'Me'or suggests a new interpretation for "b'she'Chavtan." He explains that it means that one shook the tree until all of its leaves fell off the branches. The only reason a Sukah underneath a tree is Pasul is because the tree becomes part of the Sukah. When one shakes the branches, he shows that it *was not his intention* for the tree to be part of the shading Sechach of the Sukah, and thus it does not become part of the Sukah. Since there is enough kosher Sechach to create more shade than the sunlight that penetrates it, the Sukah is valid.

(For a summary of the Halachah rulings regarding this matter, see Insights to 10b.)

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