MISHNAH: THE HEIGHT OF A SUKAH
(Tana Kama): If the Sechach of the Sukah is higher than 20 Amos, the Sukah is Pesulah.
(R. Yehudah): It is Kesheirah.
A Sukah less than 10 Tefachim tall, or having less than three walls, or whose light is more than its shade, is Pesulah.
SOURCES FOR THE PESUL OF EXCESSIVE HEIGHT
Question: Why by Eruvin are we taught to repair the Mavoy (by shortening it) while here we are only taught that it is Pesulah?
Answer: Regarding Sukah, which is d'Oraisa, the appropriate language is Pesulah, as opposed to a Mavoy (d'Rabanan).
Alternate Answer: Our Mishnah lists many Pesulim, whose varied corrective measures would encumber the Mishnah (as opposed to Mavoy with fewer invalidations).
Question: What is the source for the Pesul of height?
Answer (Rabah): The Pasuk instructs us to dwell in a Sukah in order to recall Hash-m's miraculous protection, and this is lost if the Sukah is too tall to catch one's eye (20 Amos).
Answer (R. Zeira): The Pasuk (Yeshaya 4:6) teaches that we should be dwelling in the shade of the Sukah not the shade of the walls, which would be the case over 20 Amos.
Question (Abaye): Then we should invalidate a Sukah built in a valley between two tall mountains!?
Answer (R. Zeira): There the Sukah would still be valid even without the sun-blocking mountains, whereas our Sukah would not be valid (since its Sechach does not generate any shade at all) without the walls.
Answer (Rava): Such a tall Sukah would not normally be made as a temporary dwelling (Diras Ar'ai), a requirement of Sukah (based on the Pasuk).
Question (Abaye): Would a Sukah made of iron walls then be Pesulah?
Answer (Rava): The Pasuk is delimiting a measurement for a Diras Ar'ai (not specifying that the structure must be built to collapse after seven days).
Question: On what basis do Rabah, R. Zeira and Rava argue?
Answer: Owing to a weakness in each of the positions.
They disagree with Rabah because they understand the Pasuk is speaking of historical awareness not awareness of the dwelling itself.
They disagree with R. Zeira because the Pasuk he cites is speaking of the future clouds in the times of the Mashiach (which will create shade, but not speaking of a Sukah, which is only for Sechach, not for shade).
Question: Why does R. Zeira disagree with this?
Answer: If so, the Pasuk would say Chupah, not Sukah (which adds the additional implication).
They disagree with Rava because of Abaye's question.
Question: With which opinion does this teaching of Rav agree:
(R. Yoshiya): Rav taught that the Machlokes in our Mishnah is only where the walls do not reach the Sechach.
If the walls reach the Sechach, then even more than 20 Amos are acceptable according to all.
Answer: Like Rabah, who makes the criteria for Kashrus that which catches the eye, and the unbroken wall draws one's eyes all the way to the Sechach.
Question: With which opinion does the teaching of Rav agree?
(R. Huna): Rav taught that the Machlokes in our Mishnah is only where the floor of the Sukah is 4x4 Amos.
If the floor is more than 4x4, then even more than 20 Amos height is acceptable.
Answer: Like R. Zeira, who looks for shade in a Sukah, and the larger Sukah allows for the shade of the Sechach to reach the floor (it is not only shaded by the walls).
Question: With which opinion does this teaching of Rav agree:
(R. Chanan b. Rabah): Rav taught that the Machlokes in our Mishnah is only if the Sukah is exactly 7x7 Tefachim (minimum space for a table and most of a person).
Larger than 7x7 Tefachim will permit a taller Sukah.
Answer: Like none of the opinions cited (the Sechach does not catch the eye, it does not provide shade, and the walls would not be Ar'ai).
R. YOSHIYA, R. HUNA AND R. CHANAN BAR RABAH
Question: On what basis do each of these understand the Machlokes between R. Yehudah and Rabanan differently?
We can understand why R. Yoshiya argues with the others because he maintains that the Machlokes in the Mishnah is not bound by a Shiur of the floor size of the Sukah (see R. Chananel for an alternate Girsa).
But why not maintain that R. Huna and R. Chanan b. Rabah (are not arguing over what Rav taught, because Rav only referred to a Kosher Sukah, but they) are arguing over the minimum size of a Sukah (4x4 Amos or 7x7 Tefachim)?
No, all agree that the minimum size of a Sukah is 7x7 Tefachim, and they are arguing over the following. Did Rav teach that the Machlokes in our Mishnah applies only to a Sukah that is exactly 7x7 Tefachim, but if the Sukah is larger than that all would agree that even a tall Sukah is Kesheirah? Or does the Machlokes in our Mishnah apply to any Sukah that is from 7x7 Tefachim to 4x4 Amos, and if the Sukah is larger than that all would agree that even a tall Sukah is Kesheirah?
THE SUKAH OF QUEEN HELENA
Question: The incident of Queen Helena's Sukah should prove the position of Rabah!?
A Beraisa teaches that R. Yehudah supports his position (of permitting unlimited height) from the silence of the Chachamim regarding the taller Sukah of Queen Helena in Lod.
That is because she is Peturah from Sukah!
(R. Yehudah): But she had seven sons, and, furthermore, she was always careful to consult the Chachamim for everything!?
Question: Why did R. Yehudah need to add the 'furthermore?'
Answer: He was thus anticipating their responses:
(Chachamim): The boys were minors (Peturim in Sukah).
(R. Yehudah): Surely among these seven there was at least one who was old enough to be obligated, Mi'd'Rabanan, in Sukah.
(Chachamim): She did not pay attention to Rabbinic obligations.
(R. Yehudah): Furthermore, she was always careful..
We understand there being a Machlokes between Chachamim and R. Yehudah about the Kashrus of the Queen's Sukah according to Rabah, since it is reasonable that a Queen would have a Sukah whose walls do not reach the Sechach, (to provide ventilation), but it is unlikely that she was sitting is a small Sukah and, according to R. Zeira and Rava (who say that the Machlokes in our Mishnah only applies to a Sukah of small dimensions), there should not have been a Machlokes about the Queen's Sukah at all!?
Answer: The discussion regarding the Queen's Sukah took place because it was comprised of small rooms (which were less than 4x4 Amos, thus triggering the Machlokes Chachamim and R. Yehudah).
Question: Does a Queen make a Sukah out of small rooms?
Answer: No, it was a large Sukah which also had a small room (her private chambers).
The Chachamim assumed that her sons were dwelling in the large room and she was using the small chamber for her privacy, and hence they did not see any reason to object.
R. Yehudah understood that her sons sat with her in her chambers and that there were, among them, those who were already obligated d'Rabanan, in Sukah.
Hence, according to R. Yehudah, the silence of the Chachamim is indicative of his position regarding the height of Sukah.