Halacha for Tuesday 11 Tishrei 5781 September 29 2020

The Walls of the Sukkah

The days between Yom Kippur and the Sukkot holiday are indeed holy ones during which we are involved with the building of the Sukkah in order to go from strength to strength. Our Sages teach us that the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot are treated as sanctified days and are similar to the days of Chol Ha’Moed. During these days the entire Jewish nation is involved in the Mitzvot of Sukkah and Lulav and these actions arouse the Jewish nation’s love for their Father in Heaven and to rejoice in His commandments thus bringing about service of Hashem with a gladdened heart. During these days, Tachanun (supplication) prayers are omitted from all prayer services, for these days are tantamount to Yom Tov.

A Sukkah must consist of three walls and Sechach (roof of the Sukkah made from objects which grow from the ground). The walls of the Sukkah may be made from any material one wishes as long as they are strong and sturdy enough to withstand an ordinary wind (breeze); if the walls are not sturdy enough to withstand such a wind, they are not valid for the Mitzvah of Sukkah.

Therefore, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that one should not use sheets, fabrics, and the like for the walls of the Sukkah, for they flap back and forth in the wind; even a small movement renders them unfit to withstand an ordinary wind. Even if one stretches these sheets until they are taut and then ties them very well to the poles of the Sukkah so that they do not move in the wind, this is still unacceptable, for sometimes, the knots come loose as a result of the wind and the sheets begin to sway and this renders the Sukkah invalid, in which case anyone who sits in it is in essence not sitting in a Sukkah and any “Leeshev Ba’Sukkah” blessings recited upon it are blessings in vain. Although there are those who maintain that as long as the sheets do not sway very much in the wind (approximately three Tefachim or twenty-four centimeters from side to side) these walls are still valid, nevertheless, it appears from the words of the Rishonim that even a slight movement invalidates the Sukkah. This is indeed the consensus among most modern-day Poskim including Hagaon Harav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld zt”l and Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l. Similarly, Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l writes that one may not be lenient and build his Sukkah out of sheets of fabric or tarp and he adds that the fact that such Sukkot are sold in the United States (place of Harav Feinstein’s residence) must not have been done in accordance with the ruling of a Halachic authority, for such Sukkot may not be used.

Material Which is Capable of Becoming Impure
We have written that one may make the walls out of any material one wishes, including vessels, such as closets, chests, and the like. Although these items are vessels and thus are capable of becoming impure (meaning that if an impure person touches the vessel it will consequently become impure as well) and such things may not be used for the Sechach of the Sukkah, the walls of the Sukkah may nevertheless be made of things which are capable of becoming impure.

This means that the Sechach of the Sukkah must be made only from material incapable of becoming impure but the walls of the Sukkah may be made from vessels of any other item which is capable of becoming impure.

Supports- Plastic Zip Ties
Nonetheless, the part of the wall of the Sukkah where the Sechach rests is considered “the Sechach’s support” and should preferably be made of materials which are not capable of becoming impure due to an edict of our Sages who were concerned that perhaps one will come to use such materials as Sechach. Thus, if the walls of the Sukkah are made of materials that are capable of becoming impure, such as closets, metal poles, and the like, it is preferable to place a wooded beam on top of the walls or poles around all four sides of the Sukkah in such a way that the Sechach will rest on the wooden beams as opposed to the material which is capable of becoming impure.

For the above reason, it is preferable that anything that supports or holds the Sechach in place not be made of materials capable of becoming impure. Thus, one should preferably not tie down the Sechach with plastic zip ties so that it does not fly away. However, if the Sechach is sturdy enough as is and one is merely tying it down in order to prevent it from flying away in extremely strong winds, there is room for leniency in this regard.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Making Toast on a Hotplate on Shabbat

Question: May one place a pita or a slice of bread on a hotplate on Shabbat in order to turn it into hard and crunchy toast? Answer: There are two prohibitions we must discuss with regards to our question of making toast on Shabbat out of bread that was already baked before Shabbat. The first ......

Read Halacha

Sitting on Food Items

Question: Is it correct that one may not sit on top of a box containing food or beverages? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (50b) states that it is forbidden to act in a degrading manner towards food. Thus, one may not, for instance, use a piece of cake to wipe up a drink that spilled on t......

Read Halacha

Salting Cucumbers on Shabbat

Question: Is it correct that one may not put salt on cucumbers on Shabbat? Answer: The root of this question lies in the fact that with regards to many Torah laws, we rule that “pickling is tantamount to cooking” meaning that a pickled food is considered like a cooked food. Thus, just......

Read Halacha

The Law Regarding a Woman Who Forgets to Recite the Blessings of the Torah

We have explained in the previous Halacha that if one forgets to recites the Blessings of the Torah and only realizes this after one has concluded Shacharit prayers, one may no longer recite these blessings, for one has already fulfilled his obligation with the “Ahavat Olam” blessing rec......

Read Halacha


The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat Night and Pouring Water on Dirty Dishes

Question: Upon the conclusion of the Shabbat night meal, may one immediately wash the dishes for the Shabbat day meal or should this only be done during the day closer to the start of the meal? Also, is it permissible to pour water onto soiled dishes (which one no longer needs for Shabbat) so that i......

Read Halacha

Question: May one recite the Amida prayer in front of a curtain (covering the Aron Kodesh) which is adorned with various designs?

Answer: The Rambam writes in one of his responses (Freiman edition, Chapter 20): “It is incorrect to pray in front of garments with designs on them, even if the designs are not protruding. We usually close our eyes when it happens that we must pray in front of a wall or garment adorned with de......

Read Halacha

The Law Regarding One Who Forgets to Recite the Morning Blessings

The Morning Blessings (“Birkot Ha’Shachar”) are the blessings recited every morning beginning from the “Elohai Neshama” blessing until the end of the Blessings of the Torah. Both men and women must recite these blessings, as we have discussed in the laws of the Morning ......

Read Halacha