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Sukah 12

SUKAH 12 (27 Nisan) - has been dedicated to the memory of ha'Rav Shmuel (ben Aharon) Grunfeld of Jerusalem/Efrat. Rav Shmuel was a truly great Torah scholar, whose tragic death left all who knew him with an inconsolable sense of loss.


QUESTION: The Mishnah (11a) states that the Sechach of a Sukah must be something which cannot become Tamei and that grows from the ground (Gidulei Karka). According to Rebbi Yochanan, this requirement is derived from the verse, "b'Aspecha mi'Garnecha u'mi'Yikvecha" -- "... when you gather in from your threshing floor and your wine press" (Devarim 16:13), which teaches that Sechach must be made from material similar to the residue left over from the threshing and wine pressing processes ("Pesoles Goren v'Yekev"). Rav Chisda says that it is derived from a verse in Nechemyah (8:15), which teaches that the Sechach must be similar to the "branches of myrtle" (which are not Mekabel Tum'ah and are Gedulei Karka).

If these are the verses from which we learn the requirements of Sechach, then why do we not say that we are only allowed to use grain stalks or vine branches for Sechach ("Pesoles Goren v'Yekev") according to Rebbi Yochanan, or only the specific woods mentioned in the verse in Nechemyah according to Rav Chisda. What indication is there in the verses to permit using Sechach from natural products which are similar to the types mentioned in the verse?

The answer is that we only learn from the verse the guidelines for what makes the Sechach fit for a Sukah if there is some *logical basis* for putting such limitations on the Sechach . It is logical to learn from the verse that Sechach must be a natural product, since that is the type of covering which is used to make shade for a temporary dwelling. It cannot be a processed item. It is logical, therefore, that this verse excludes something that can be Mekabel Tum'ah (i.e. it is processed) and something which does not grow from the ground, or a live animal (since these less accessible objects are not readily used for making shade). Concerning different types of wood, there is no reason to say that the type of wood mentioned in the verse is more fit for a Sukah than any other type of wood, since the Torah did not specify that a specific object must be used for Sechach.

The RITVA (11b) asks, if this is so, how do we learn the requirement that Sechach must not be attached to the ground ("Mechubar")? Rashi (11a, DH Pesulah) tells us that the source is from the verse of our Sugya: since Pesoles Goren v'Yekev is not Mechubar, we learn that Sechach must not be Mechubar. What is the logical basis to learn from Pesoles Goren v'Yekev that Mechubar may not be used? On the contrary, if it is necessary to use a natural product, then something which is attached to the ground is more natural than something which has been detached! Why should we learn from the verse that Mechubar cannot be used? (This is the way the question appears in the Mosad Rav Kook edition of the Chidushei ha'Ritva. In the older printings the word "Rav Chisda" appears instead of the word "Rachmana," which has caused much confusion concerning the Ritva's intention.)

ANSWER: The RE'AH and the RITVA conclude that it must be that the Pesul of Mechubar is learned from a different source. It is learned from the principle of "*Ta'aseh*." "Ta'aseh" teaches that one must do an action to make the Sechach; by putting branches which are Mechubar onto the Sukah, no Ma'aseh was done; rather, the branches were just waved from one place to another, while at their base they remained connected to the ground. (This is not to be confused with the Pesul of "Ta'aseh *v'Lo Min ha'Asuy*," which describes what *type* of action is necessary; the action which makes the Sukah must be the *placing* of the Sechach and not a later action (such as cutting the Sechach from its source).

Rashi (11a, DH Pesulah) says that Mechubar is Pasul because it does not fall into the category of Pesoles Goren v'Yekev. He might also mean to say like the Ritva, that the logical basis for distinguishing between something that is Mechubar and something that is not Mechubar, is that in the case of Mechubar, one is not doing an action. Rashi learns from Pesoles Goren v'Yekev that an action must be done to put the Sechach on the Sukah.


OPINIONS: Rebbi Yochanan says that strands of unprocessed flax may be used as Sechach, but if the strands have been pressed and combed, then they may not be used as Sechach. Since such strands are natural products that grow from the ground, why may they not be used as Sechach?
(a) RASHI (DH Sachachah) says that the Gemara is referring to strands of flax that have been bleached. Such strands are then Mekabel Tum'as Nega'im according to one opinion (Rebbi Yehudah in Nega'im 11:8) even though they have not yet been spun.

(b) TOSFOS (DH b'Anitzei) says that if the strands of flax have not been spun, nobody says that they are Mekabel Tum'ah -- even Tum'as Nega'im. (Rebbi Yehudah is referring to after they have been spun when he says that they are only Mekabel Tum'ah once they are bleached.) Rather, Tosfos explains that since these strands are close to reaching a state in which they can be Mekabel Tum'ah (since they have been *prepared* to be spun), the Rabanan decreed that they may not be used as Sechach. Tosfos adds that it is only according to the opinion that does *not* require bleaching (because then it is not close to being Mekabel Tum'as Nega'im; according to Rebbi Yehudah, that bleaching is required as well, it is not even close to being Mekabel Tum'as Nega'im).

(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Sukah 5:4) says that the reason that strands of flax may not be used is because their form has changed after they have been pounded and combed, and they no longer resemble Gedulei Karka, items which grew from the ground.

(d) The RA'AVAD there argues with the Rambam and says that the reason strands of flax may not be used as Sechach is because they are fit to be used as stuffing for pillows and sheets. Since pillows and sheets are Mekabel Tum'ah, the stuffing is also Mebakel Tum'ah. (He appears to be referring to the Mishnah in Kelim (17:13) which says that objects which are not Mekabel Tum'ah by themselves can nevertheless be Mekabel Tum'ah when they are sewn to objects that are Mekabel Tum'ah).

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