Get the best of content every week!
Find answers to fascinating Jewish questions, enjoy holiday tips and guides, read real-life stories and more!

Intermediate Talmud: Tractate Sukkah

The Talmud on the Festival of Sukkot

The Sukkah and the Holiday of Sukkot
The Talmud on the Festival of Sukkot
Tractate Sukkah opens with a discussion of the technical halachik parameters, including the dimensions and other properties essential for a valid and kosher sukkah. In this class we explore why it's the holiday’s primary mitzvah—from which the very festival derives its name. We also establish the defining character of this temporary hut-like enclosure, where we spend as much time as possible during the holiday, as we touch on some of the important jurisprudence associated with the sukkah.
Does Your Sukkah Measure Up?
The Talmud on a Kosher Sukkah
Having initiated our study of tractate Sukkah with the first Mishna that provided general details of the parameters and dimensions required for a kosher Sukkah, in this second class we begin the classic Talmudic investigation of the Mishna’s rulings. First, by contrasting the Sukkah with a Halachik mechanism for Shabbat known as Eruv, and then by seeking the rationale for the unusual height restrictions imposed on the Sukkah.
Sukkah Builders' Code
The Talmud on a Sukkah’s Height
Our opening studies of tractate Sukkah gave us Halachic attributes and dimensions required for a kosher Sukkah and some of the rationale. In this class we’ll further investigate the logic behind the Sukkah’s height restrictions—even discovering how size can actually become the defining feature of the essential Sukkah.
Building a Sukkah on Torah Perceptions of Life
The Talmud on how a Sukkah is built
After effectively presenting three distinctly different rationales for the Sukkah’s height restrictions, the Talmud seeks to better clarify the technical jurisprudence and ultimately the spiritual philosophies that motivate each school of thought. This analysis ultimately sheds new light on what may comprise the Sukkah’s essential meaning and message. This is a mind-building class equally develops a spiritual outlook on life itself!
Head, Shoulders and Table
The Talmud on a sukkah’s minimum size
In this class we discuss disputed dimensions required for our temporary holiday hut-like enclosure. The supposition is made that the argument wasn’t ever about the Sukkah size, but rather a unique situational setting. As the finer points are analyzed, a new depth and understanding for this very special mitzvah are revealed.
Sukkah Size Matters
Audio | 1:03:44
Sukkah Size Matters
The Talmud on a sukkah’s minimum size
The Talmud continues its analytical discussion about divergent opinions regarding the required dimensions of the sukkah. As the careful analysis focuses on the specific syntax the Sages of the Mishnah employed; competing and even contradictory messages begin to emerge. In an unusual move, the resolution is found in a broader application of the different methodologies which ultimately manage to encompass both the size and possible settings.
Temporary Home Alone
Audio | 1:04:02
Temporary Home Alone
The Talmud on a sukkah’s size
As the discussion regarding Sukkah size continues to evolve, the Talmud embarks on a broad overview of nearly a dozen mitzvah dimensions whose common denominator is the inclusion of a home as a key component. This wide-ranging legal litany ultimately serves to best frame a profound understanding of the Sukkah’s unique transient nature, which sets it apart from all other human dwellings and residential definitions.
Home Alone Hypotheses
The Talmud on a sukkah’s temporary constitution
After drawing a broad distinction between the multiple paradigms of permanent Halachic homes and the intrinsically transient Sukkah, the Talmud's narrative returns to the varied differentiations, found within the seemingly homogeneous list of legal residences. A careful analysis of their governing jurisprudence yields a profound new understanding of the underlying Torah principles to the Sukkah dynamic.
Home Alone Again: Residences Redefined
The Talmud on a sukkah’s temporary constitution
The Talmud's previous analysis established distinctions between biblically ordained Halachic homes and a Sukkah. Now we must define when its character is man-made in nature, and biblical grammar is no longer in play. Our Sages delve deeply to clarify the legal definition of residences that sets the Sukkah apart based purely on jurisprudence and somewhat abstract legal theory. The newfound meaning of house vs. shelter reveals much about humans and their homes!
Home Alone Finale: Singular Sacred Spaces
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s “size and space”
Learn the Talmud’s final analysis of the unique nature of Sukkah’s “size and space” vs. requirements for other shelters and dwellings. In the previous classes we engaged in comparisons between the Sukkah and other dwellings, ultimately redefining residences from both a biblical as well as rabbinical legal perspective. In this final analysis we examine Halachik huts, houses and courtyards to gain valuable insight into the unique nature of Sukkot’s ritual holiday hut; and along the way pick up information on a slew of mitzvah observance as well as Jewish civil law.
Sukkah Size Matters
Audio | 59:54
Sukkah Size Matters
The Talmud on decreasing the sukkah’s height
A collection of Talmudic strategies in shrinking a holiday hut’s height so it’ll be kosher. We'll be delving into differing materials, some useful and some not, insofar as solving our sukkah size challenges. See why full understanding of our holiday topic can only be attained by cross referencing the laws that govern ritual impurity uniquely contracted by contact with human remains!
What Matters Most?
Audio | 56:09
What Matters Most?
The Talmud on fixing the sukkah’s height
At times a Sukkah can be too tall or at times too small. Here, as our Sages analyzed the possibilities of space management and competing size constriction vs. expansion strategies; we encounter fascinating and seemingly counterintuitive logic. Discover the meaning of “halachik reality” which attributes concrete contours to what might otherwise be viewed as conceptual theory, as we develop foundational principals is the sizing structural scale that keeps your holiday hut kosher.
Sukkah Rescue Renovation
The Talmud on solving structural issues of a sukkah
In this Talmudic narrative our sages creatively tackle our proverbial Holiday-Hut’s height malfunctions. By employing imaginative structural extensions a.k.a. the “bent-wall” principle. Incisive cross-referencing forces us to dig deeper to discover the true extent of this solution’s novelty. Varying levels of profound jurisprudence are introduced to elucidate the special operating theories in which the possibility of a technical nonentity can serve to bridge legal realities in creating a Kosher Sukkah.
We’re Just Diggin’ It
The Talmud on fixing a sukkah that’s too small or short
Shifting away from prohibitive heights, and “bent wall” creativity; the Talmud now analyzes polar challenges of an overly diminutive structure, whose stifling confines don't allow settling into its shelter. Discover how we can dig deep to save our Sukkah and attain kosher status – but only as long as we're hugging the pre-existing structure by a mere few hands-breaths. See why the previously employed solution of a “bent wall” can't work here, as per insightful jurisprudence and brilliant hairsplitting distinctions.
Developing Virtual Circumference
The Talmud on fixing a sukkah of inadequate walls
As evidenced in previous classes, to remedy excessive heights of a Sukkah one may marshal creative legal solutions. The Talmud now records one such particularly creative attempt to harness a Halachik maxim known as “Gud Asik” e.g. the theoretical extension of inadequate walls to extend into a sort of virtual partition although there are no actual walls to speak of. Deftly parrying, our Sages deflect this attempt outright. Moving on to a technically different, yet conceptually kindred scenario, a pitched dispute with multiple possibilities ensues. (Talmud tractate Sukkah 4b)
Differing Dimensions of Virtual Parameters
The Talmud on inadequate walls of a sukkah
In our previous lesson we learned about opposing schools of thought regarding the application of the halachik maxim “Gud Asik” (the theoretical extension of an incomplete partition into a fully walled area) thereby creating an “enclosure” that satisfies Sukkah requirements. Due to the opaque nature of the example illustrating the different opinions, one Sage (Rav Huna) uniquely defined the nature of the dispute. Here, the Talmud effectively disproves his supposition; ultimately providing remarkable clarity regarding the theorem of these virtual partitions. (Talmud tractate Sukkah 4b)
How Virtual Angles Create Theoretical Parameters
The Talmud on inadequate walls of a sukkah
The practical application of ritualistic legal theory to establish the Sukkah’s outer parameters, as per the strictures of Halacha, is now brought to resolution. Building on previous elucidation of differing dimensions of related Halachik jurisprudence, we’re introduced to a kindred principal called D’yumad, which enables us to circumvent certain Shabbat ‘domain restrictions’ to allow animal hydration under controlled circumstances. Ultimately, we are left far wiser about the theorem governing Sukkah partitions. (Talmud tractate Sukkah 4b)
Earthly Domains Derived from Heavenly Heights
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
In sourcing the Sukkah’s minimum Halachik height, we surprisingly reach for the biblical narratives detailing the heavenly ascendances of Moses and Elijah, as well as the anthropomorphic terminology used to describe G-d's past descent onto Mount Sinai, and futuristic appearance on the Mount of Olives. The distillation of the metaphoric spiritual verbiage into ritualistic legal theory, thereby establishing modicum of hollow space necessary to achieve an effective Sukkah domain is telling, compelling and unquestionably fascinating! (Talmud tractate Sukkah 4b-5a)
Sukkah Size & Sacred Sanctuary Items
Sourcing the Sukkah’s minimum Halachik height, leads us into a discussion into the dimensions of the Holy Ark (Talmud tractate Sukkah 5a).
Discovering the Heights of our Holiday Hut
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
Should we, the Jewish People, be seeking sources for holy heights in Rome, and is the Kohen Gadol’s gold diadem in the Vatican today? (Talmud tractate Sukkah 5a)
How High Can You Get in the Sukkah?
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
Is it a decorative royal rim or table top frame? The Talmud discusses Judaism’s kingly gold table in the Holy Temple as a source of sacred shelter size. Plus, let’s just face it, and a monster bird too! (Talmud tractate Sukkah 5a-b)
Faces of Angles or Cherubim?
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
Practical lessons we can learn from the flying heavenly angles and winged golden cherubim (Talmud tractate Sukkah 5b)
Holy Hollow or Sacred Shelter?
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
Eyes on Sanctuary ceilings and winged Cherubic space... The Talmud continues to focus on the Sukkah’s minimum height, probing inside the hollow area vs from the top of the Sechach covering, through the prism of the Sanctuary. (Talmud tractate Sukkah 5b)
Can Fruit of the Land Be Made to Measure?
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
In this class we discover how the Seven Species of Israel size-up. (Talmud tractate Sukkah 5b-6a)
The Fruity Measures of a Holy Land
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
This class is focused on how the Seven Species of the Land of Israel size-up—in relations to the heights of the Sukkah! (Talmud tractate Sukkah 6a)
Holy Land Measures
Audio | 1:01:21
Holy Land Measures
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
Exploring the Sukkah’s height via the Holy Land’s measures of olive, date and pomegranate. Seeing how the seven species of Eretz Yisrael size-up for sanctity. (Talmud tractate Sukkah 6a)
Related Topics