Tying down your Sechach so it does not fly away with the wind:

Tying down your Sechach so it does not fly away with the wind:

The necessity for doing so:[1] Often throughout the holiday of Sukkos, changes of weather which come with gusts of wind can topple down Sukkos, and deem them invalid. In this respect, even if the walls of the Sukkah remain intact it is possible for it to become invalid if it’s Sechach has been blown away, or became rolled or folded away from the walls for a distance of three Tefachim [i.e. 24 centimeters], consequently causing it’s walls to become Halachically unconnected to the Sukkah, and hence invalidate the Sukkah due to it lacking it’s minimum of 2 1/2 walls.[2] For example, if a Sukkah only contains 3 walls and the entire Sechach blew away from one of the walls to the point that it is now more than 24 centimeters distance from it to the wall, then that wall becomes completely invalid and consequentially causes the Sukkah to become invalid being that it now only has two walls. Now, while during the weekdays of Chol Hamoed one can simply replace the Sechach near the wall and hence revalidate the Sukkah, on Shabbos and Yom Tov it is forbidden to do so due to the Muktzah prohibition as well as the building prohibition of Ohel.[3] Thus, to prevent this from happening, upon constructing the Sukkah and placing the Sechach on it, one must fortify it in a way that it will not be moved by the wind and become invalid. This especially applies prior to Yom Tov and Shabbos Chol Hamoed.

How to secure and tie down the Sechach: One of the major Halachic issues that we face when it comes to fortifying the Sechach against the wind is how it can be done in a Halachically valid method, as it is initially forbidden to use any material that is invalid for Sechach as a support for the Sechach, or as a tool to fasten it.[4] Hence, while in normal construction, nails would be used to fasten down the roofing, this is not allowed to be done by the Sukkah.[5] Likewise, one may not place such materials on top of the Sechach for the sake of weighing it down.[6] Likewise, one may not use typical synthetic rope, or plastic cable ties to tie down the Sechach to the wall.[7] These restrictions extremely limit our ability of securing the Sechach to the walls of the Sukkah. Nonetheless, the following Halachic options are available and are to be followed.

  1. Fasten your support beams to the walls/frame of the Sukkah: Fasten the narrow wooden boards used to support your Sechach from under, either through nailing them into your wall, or tying them to your Sukkah frame. Any material may be used for this purpose, and it is advisable to use plastic cable ties to fasten the boards to the frame. [This option of using the plastic cable ties follows the majority opinion in Poskim, and widespread custom of Jewry, that only the supports must be made of valid material for Sechach, but not the supports of the supports.[8] Those who follow the stringent opinion, to make sure that even the supports of the supports are made a valid for Sechach material, are to use Kosher for Sechach material rope, as explained next.]
  2. Placing wooden boards on top of your Sechach:[9] In addition to your narrow wooden boards that are used to support your Sechach from under, place narrow wooden boards on top of your Sechach, in order to weigh it down. [Unlike a common misconception of some, there is absolutely no Halachic issue involved in weighing down your Sechach using narrow wooden boards just as they are used to support the Sechach from under, being that they themselves are technically valid for Sechach.[10]]
  3. Using Kosher for Sechach rope material: Purchase rope material that is valid for Sechach, such as unprocessed hemp rope and the like which is used to sew the Sechach mats together. Use this rope to tie down the Sechach to the wooden boards that are used to support the Sechach. [This option is valid according to all opinions, although should only be used as a last resort due to its possible ineffectiveness.]
  4. Sandwiching your Sechach between the boards: The following is the best and most secure option of all the above. In addition to the wooden boards that are used to support the Sechach from under, place wooden boards on top of your Sechach, directly parallel to the boards under. Then take rope of any material, or plastic cable zip ties [i.e. police plastic handcuffs] and tie the two boards to each other, thus sandwiching the Sechach in between the two boards and securing it that it will not move with the wind. Do this by each end of the two boards. [This option of using the plastic cable ties follows the majority opinion in Poskim, and widespread custom of Jewry, that only the supports must be made of valid material for Sechach, but not the supports of the supports.[11] Those who follow the stringent opinion, to make sure that even the supports of the supports are made a valid for Sechach material, are to use Kosher for Sechach material rope, as explained above.]

The law Bedieved if nails or other non-Kosher for Sechach materials were used to fasten or weigh down the Sechach:[12]

The Sukkah remains valid, and it is permitted to even initially dwell in such a Sukkah in order to fulfill the Mitzvah.

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[1] See Admur 629:11 “Place it on top of the Sechach so the wind does not blow it away

[2] Regarding the necessity to have three, or 2 1/2 , walls: See Michaber 630:2; Mishneh Sukkah 2a; Regarding the necessity for the Sechach to be within three Tefachim of the wall, if there is empty space between the wall and the Sechach, in order for the wall to be valid: See Michaber 630:9

[3] See Shut Magidos 109; Birkeiy Yosef 626:11; Ber Yitzchak O.C. 13; Lev Chaim 2:109; Shoel Umeishiv Revia 3:25; Pischei Olam 637:2; Bikurei Yaakov; M”B 637:1; Kaf Hachaim 637:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 626:10; Nitei Gavriel 18:8

[4] Admur 629:11-12; Michaber 629:7 regarding using ladder as Sechach support; Rama ibid that it may not be placed under the Sechach, or on top to weight it down, and the same applies for any material that is Mikabel Tuma; Terumas Hadeshen 90; Rashba 1:195; Ran Sukkah 10a; Maharil Sukkah p. 363; M”A 629:9; Chayeh Adam; M”B 629 “There are some Achronim which have ruled that the direct support are to initially be made of materials Kosher for Sechach”; Omitted from Michaber and Rama 629

[5] Admur 629:13; Michaber 629:8; Terumas Hadeshen 91

[6] Admur 629:11; Rama 629:7; Maharil ibid; M”A 629:9

[7] See Admur 629:13 regarding using ropes made of cloth to tie down the Sechach

[8] Admur 629:12-13; Michaber 629:8; Beis Yosef 630; M”A 629:9; Ritva Sukkah 21b; Ran ibid in name of Ramban in Milchamos; M”B 629:

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the support of the support is to likewise be of material which are valid for Sechach. [Chazon Ish]

[9] See Admur 629:11; Rama 629:7 that the restriction is only against using items which are Mikbel Tuma

[10] See Admur 629:31; Michaber 629:18; Sukkah 15a

[11] Admur 629:12-13; Michaber 629:8; Beis Yosef 630; M”A 629:9; Ritva Sukkah 21b; Ran ibid in name of Ramban in Milchamos; M”B 629:

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the support of the support is to likewise be of material which are valid for Sechach. [Chazon Ish]

[12] Admur 629:13

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