1. Question: [Tuesday, 16th Tishreiy 5783]
I have an urgent question regarding my Sukkah, which an individual who walked inside said that he thinks it may be invalid. Basically, I have sheets as walls, however they are not within three Tefachim from the ground, and are not attached well, as I do not have bars on top and bottom of the sukkah to fasten them to it. So, instead of relying on the sheets as walls [which I can’t], I purchased four planks of wood with a height of 100 cm [ten Tefachim], and a width of 60 cm [i.e. seven Tefachim], which I placed by each of the four walls of the sukkah. I thought that this would be valid walls, as they meet the minimum requirement of height and width [10 x 7 Tefachim], however the individual who walked in my sukkah told me that it may be invalid being that I have too much unwalled space, and for the sukkah to be kosher there must be more wall space then empty space, as my sheets do not count as walls.
The above statement that the sukkah must have more wall space then empty space to be Kosher, is only partially accurate. There is not enough information in your description to give a ruling, and it is hence possible that your sukkah is kosher and equally possible that it is invalid, as will be explained below. Practically, after verifying the details with you the asker, I agree that the sukkah is indeed invalid according to many opinions, and therefore you should now create new walls by each of the four walls of your Sukkah using strings to create Lavud walls [as explained below], and after doing so you should lift up all your Sechach at least slightly, and replace it. To note, that due to all the complexities of the conditions below and the possible invalidation’s which not all people are expert in, the initial custom is, as recorded in the Rama, to make four complete walls by a sukkah, and that if one can’t make four complete walls, then it is better to make three complete walls without a 4th wall, then to make four walls with breaches that enter the below questions and doubts.
There is not enough information in your description, and it is hence possible that your sukkah is kosher and equally possible that it is invalid. This depends on the following factors which require the following introduction: A kosher sukkah must contain at least three kosher walls. At least two of these three walls must fulfill certain more stringent conditions in order to be valid, versus the third wall which contains more leniencies in its validity. One of the conditions that at least two of the walls must fulfill is that they do not contain a Pirtza, which is a Halachically defined breach. It is possible for a wall to contain an invalidating Pirtza/breach, which hereby invalidates the wall, in any one of the following three ways: 1) there is a breach in the corner, or 2) according to many opinions, if there is more breached space then wall space or 3) if there is a breach of more than 10 Amos without Tzuras Pesach, and according to some, in certain cases, even with Tzuras Pesach. We will now explain the details of the above, breaking down the factors which affect the validity of the Sukkah described in the question above.
- Lavud: In order to verify whether your sukkah is kosher we must first verify whether you created Lavud walls using string, or bars, throughout the length of all four walls of your sukkah [aside from the entrance of course], reaching a height of 82 cm, and with each string or bar being within 23 cm from each other? If you did, then your Sukkah is kosher even if the sheets and boards were to be considered invalid walls. In such a case, although you technically have more empty space than wall space in your Sukkah when taking into account all the airspace between the Lavud bars and strings, and from the top bar to the ceiling of the sukkah, nevertheless, it remains kosher, as we view the entire Lavud area until a height of 82 cm as if it were closed up, and there is no need for a wall to reach higher than 82 cm even if the Sechach is very high up. Thus, although technically in this scenario there is more empty space than wall material by the sukkah, nonetheless it remains valid
- No Lavud: If you did not create Lavud walls [as indeed was verified to be the case after inquiry] then the Sukah only remains kosher if the following three conditions are fulfilled:
- Corners: At least two of your walls, which in this case refers to the planks of wood which you are using as walls, are attached to each other in the corner, like this: , or are at least within three Tefachim of each other by the corner. If not, such as if you put each plank by one of the four opposite corners of the Sukkah [i.e. then the sukkah is indeed invalid as a sukkah must contain at least one attached corner, at least through Lavud, to be valid.
- Amud Meruba Al Haparutz: According to most Poskim, and so is the final ruling, at least two of the three required walls of the Sukkah must contain more closed wall space, then empty space. Thus, if your sukkah is more than 120 centimeters long and more than hundred 120 cm wide, then it does not suffice to have a 60 cm wall, and rather, at least two of the walls must be at least a majority of the length of their side of the Sukkah. For example, if your sukkah is 4 x 4 meters, then you must have a minimum 2.1 meter wall by at least two of your walls. There is never a requirement for a sukkah to contain a 4th wall, and there is never a requirement for the third wall to contain more wall space then empty space, so long as it is made in a valid manner. Thus, we do not take these empty spaces of the other two walls into account, and hence so long as you have two walls with majority wall space on their respective sides, then the sukkah is kosher even if in total your sukkah contains more open space than actual wall. [According to most Poskim, this is the intent of the Braisa in Sukkah 7a which states that by Sukkah, as opposed to Reshuyos of Shabbos, we permit Parutz Merubah Al Ha’amud. However, there are Poskim who argue and learn that we never require any of the Sukkah walls to contain majority walled space, and hence they learn the Braisa literally, that even if every wall has more Parutz than Amud, the Sukkah is valid.] One matter though that requires analysis is regarding Tzuras Hapesach, and if it helps to Kasher a Sukkah that does not contain even two sides with majority wall, through considering the breaches as closed up.
- No ten Amah breach: In addition to the requirement for at least two of the walls to extend throughout the majority of the length of their side of the sukkah, it is forbidden for there to be a 10 Ama [approximately 4.7 meters] stretch of open space on that side of the sukkah. If there is, then the wall is invalid, unless one performs a Tzuras Pesach to that open space in which case it is valid according to some opinions in all cases, and according to other opinions is only valid if Amud Meruba al Haparutz [by the entirety of the Sukkah]. Thus, for example, if one has a 10 x 10 m sukkah, then it does not suffice for two of the walls to have a length of 5.1 m, which is majority of that length, and rather it must be at least 5.4 m, in order to prevent an open space of 10 Amos from being created by that wall.
All in all, being that your sukkah does not fulfill these conditions [as we later inquired], it is indeed invalid according to most Poskim.
Sources: See regarding the initial custom to make 4 or at least three complete walls: Rama 630:5 See regarding Kashrus of Sukkah even if Parutz Meruba Al Hamud: Michaber 630:5; Braisa in Sukkah 7a and Mefarshim there See regarding that this only applies if the total space of the 4 walls is Parutz Merubah, however, each individual two mandatory walls must be Amud Meruba Al Haparutz: M”A 630:6; Taz 630:6; Rashi and Ritva Sukkah 7a; Maggid Mishneh Sukkah 4:12 in opinion of Rambam; Elya Raba 630:10; Mamar Mordechai 630:5; P”M 630 M”Z 6; M”B 630:22; Kaf Hachaim 630:37; Chazon Ish 75:13 Lenient opinion: Simple understanding of Rambam Sukkah 4:12; Rabbeinu Yerucham 8:1 and Rava, brought in Beis Yosef; Ran, as understood by Chazon Ish 75:3 See regarding the invalidity of a ten ama breach: Michaber 630:5; Rambam Sukkah 4:12; M”B 630:26; Kaf Hachaim 630:41; See regarding making Tzuras Pesach by Ten Ama breach: Michaber 630:5; Rambam Sukkah 4:12; M”B 630:24; Shaar Hatziyon 630:24-25; Biur Halacha ibid; Kaf Hachaim 630:41; See regarding making a Tzuras Hapesach by wall with Parutz Merubah Al Hamud: Biur Halacha 630:2 “Sheyamid” for a dispute between the Ran and Rosh if Tzuras Pesach is a Biblically valid wall for a Sukkah. Practically, it is at the very least Rabbinically invalid. Sukkah Kehilchasa p. 146 in name pof Chazon Ish that is valid, although in footnote 18 he concludes with tzaruch Iyun; See regarding validity of Lavud by walls: M”A 630:1 and 5; Taz 630:6; Levushei Serud and Machatzis Hashekel on M”A ibid; Mamar Mordechai 630:6; Kaf Hachaim 630:38 See regarding requirement of corners to be attached: Rama 630:5; M”A 630:7; Levushei Serud on M”A ibid; P”M 630 A”A 7; M”B 630:25; Biur Halacha 630:5 “Ki”; Beis Hashoeiva 630:29; Kaf Hachaim 630:40; Piskeiy Teshuvos 630:7
2. Question: [Wednesday, 17th Tishreiy, 5783]
I was told by a decade old Esrog seller that the custom in Chabad, and Raboseinu Nissieinu, is not to pay attention to leaf marks known as Bletlach which are on the Esrog, and that the Esrog is not considered demoted in its beauty due to these marks. Practically, this seller only had Esrogim with Bletlach, and when I told him that I always purchase an Esrog without Bletlach even though it usually costs much more, he told me as above that what I am doing is not the Chabad custom, and that it is my Yetzer Hara which is telling me to buy Esrogim without Bletlach. Is there any truth to his words? In the end I went to a different seller and bought an Esrog without Bletlach, but his words did bother me.
Although an Esrog with Bletlach is Kosher, it is a Hiddur Mitzvah even according to Chabad to purchase an Esrog that does not contain any Bletlach due to Noiy Mitzvah. However, it is better to purchase a completely yellow Esrog with Bletlach, then a green Esrog which is clean of Bletlach. Thus, if you are able to find a completely yellow Esrog without Bletlach and are willing to pay the price, this is certainly a Hiddur Mitzvah.
Explanation: While there is Halachic discussion as to the validity of Bletlach, with the conclusion being that they do not invalidate the Esrog being that they are a natural component of the Esrog and are commonly found, nevertheless, nowhere does it say that an Esrog with Bletlach is considered just as beautiful as an Esrog without. On the contrary, logic dictates that a clean Esrog without Bletlach is more beautiful, and therefore would fulfill the Hiddur Mitzvah of Esrog more than an Esrog which has Bletlach, and so explicitly rules the Peri Megadim. This of course refers to a case where both Esrogim are equal in Kashrus and Hiddur in all other aspects, and the only difference is the Bletlach. I am not aware of any Chabad tradition to state otherwise that in Chabad Bletlach does not diminish in the Hiddur of the Esrog, and I suspect the seller is at best misinformed, and at worse, trying to make a sale with his Bletlach merchandice. [To note, that that which was published in one of the recent Chabad publications that according to Admur, Bletlach do not diminish in the Hiddur of the Esrog, and they sourced this statement to Admur 648:23, in my opinion, they have completely misunderstood this ruling of Admur, as Admur refers to the letter of the law validity of Bletlach, and does not enter the discussion of Hiddur and beauty, as correctly notes the Sefer of Rav Weiner on p. 17 that even according to the ruling of Admur “those who are Mehader in Mitzvos try to use an Esrog that is clean of any Bletlach, and the cleaner the better, as it is a Hiddur Mitzvah to use a completely clean Esrog for the Mitzvah.” So likewise concludes Rav Ginzberg in Hiskashrus, that having no Bletlach is a Hiddur.]
Sources: See regarding that Bletlach on an Esrog are Kosher, and the reason behind it: Admur 648:23; M”A 648:19; Mabit 3:49; See regarding a leaf mark Chazazis: Rama 648:13; Maharil Esrog p. 399; Teurmas Hadeshen 99; See regarding the Hiddur of purchasing an Esrog that is completely clean, without Bletlach: P”M end of 648 in A”A by Ketzas Dinei Esrog; Sefer Arba Minim [Weiner] p. 17; Hiskashrus 948 footnote 143; See regarding purchasing a yellow Esrog with Bletlach versus a green one without: Hiskashrus 948 footnote 143