A. Placing the s'chach
B. The amount of s'chach required
C. Kosher and non-kosher materials for s'chach.
D. Supporting the s'chach
E. The status of a succa that is covered with invalid s'chach
F. A succa under a Tree
A. Placing the s'chach
1. One's intention concerning the placing of s'chach should be to
provide protection from sun and heat and not just privacy .
However, it suffices to have in mind that one is placing s'chach on a
succa for the purpose of the mitzva .
2. S'chach placed by a non-Jew is kosher . The same applies if it
is placed by a child under bar mitzva or a woman . However it is
preferable for an adult male Jew to place the s'chach  and ideally
this should be the owner of the succa .
B. The amount of s'chach required
1. The minimum amount of s'chach required for a succa to be considered
valid is indicated when slightly more than half the roof space is
filled. The succa is kosher even if the lower part (ie. the living
area) has equal amounts of sun and shade. But if the roof has exactly
the same amount of s'chach as empty space, there will be more sunshine
than shade in the lower part and this invalidates the succa .
2. If the s'chach covering is very thin and there are many openings in
it, the succa is still kosher as long as:
a) there is no open area of three tefachim by three tefachim (24cm x
24cm) in one place without s'chach and
b) the succa has more shade than sunshine .
3. If in total the succa has more shade than sunshine, but there is
one section of seven tefachim by seven tefachim (56cm x 56cm) which
has more sunshine than shade, one should not use that area. However,
the rest of the succa is valid .
4. The proper way to cover a succa is to make the layer of s'chach
thick enough so that there is protection from winds and cold but one
can still see the stars at night .
5. If the s'chach is thick and the stars are not visible at all, the
succa is still kosher . However, if the s'chach is made so thick,
like the covering of a house, and no rain enters the succa even in a
heavy downpour, the succa is invalid .
C. Kosher and non-kosher materials for s'chach.
1.Only materials which grow from the ground are kosher for s'chach
Along with two further conditions:
a) the materials are detached from the ground  and
b) the materials still have the appearance of wood or plant. For
example, ropes of flax cannot be used as their form has changed to the
extent that they no longer look as if they were grown from the ground
Metal and earth cannot be used for s'chach for although they come from
the ground, they do not grow .
2. Materials that can contract ritual impurity (tuma) are not fit to
be used for s'chach .
a) There are seven such materials: metal, wood, leather, bone, clay,
woven cloth and braided animal hairs. However, these materials
contract tuma only when they are formed in to a finished utensil,
vessel or garment .
b) The halacha is that a broken vessel is no longer susceptible to
tuma. Nevertheless, plain wood coming from broken articles or
furniture is not kosher for s'chach since it was once susceptible to
tuma . Some hold that if one destroyed the furniture and the wood
is no longer recognisable as having come from furniture, it is fit to
be used .
c) Food fit for human consumption is susceptible to tuma and may not
be used for s'chach . A Rav should be consulted if one wishes to
use branches with figs or grapes attached for s'chach .
3. There are several Rabbinic decrees concerning s'chach.
a) Materials that have a bad odour should not be used for s'chach
b) Branches whose leaves constantly fall off are prohibited to be used
for s'chach .
c) Bundles of wood or twigs tied together are not to be used for
s'chach . (There are a number of details concerning this rule.
d) Boards having a width of four tefachim (32cm) are not kosher for
s'chach since this size of board resembles the ceiling boards of a
house . (This halacha is known as gezeiras tikra.)
e) There is a custom not to use thin boards even if they are less than
four tefachim . Others allow their use nowadays since the reasons
for the minhag no longer apply . In case of necessity, they can be
f) Mats made from stalks, straw and reeds were once used by people for
mattresses and under these conditions such mats could not be used for
s'chach . However, mats like this are used nowadays for stepping
on ie. for wiping one's feet. Therefore if mats were made especially
for s'chach, many poskim permit their use. However, others still
prohibit using mats .
D. Supporting the s'chach
1. The support for the s'chach should be kosher just like the s'chach
. Therefore one should not support the s'chach on metal or
utensils . Furthermore, s'chach should not be tied with a string
 or nailed down  and no utensils should be put on top of the
s'chach to hold it in place .
2. A stone or cement wall can be used as support for s'chach .
3. If the support for the s'chach would otherwise be metal or
something else unfit for s'chach, one should place wooden poles on top
of the unfit support, preferably oriented in a different direction to
the support, and use these poles to hold up the s'chach .
4. If a succa was already made and the support is not kosher for
s'chach then b'dieved it can be used. The same holds if there is no
other material available .
5. It is permitted to fasten the poles or frame of the succa with
metal nails or to tie them with string because these fasteners only
hold together the support (rather than providing direct support) for
the s'chach . (This principle is known as maamid d'maamid) Even
though this is the minhag ha'olam, the Chazon Ish zt"l was of the
opinion that one should be stringent and not use metal nails or string
E. The status of a succa that is covered with invalid s'chach
Areas of non-kosher s'chach or empty spaces in the s'chach can affect
the status of the succa in different ways depending on the size and
location of the area .
1. If a succa has only three walls and the non-kosher area of s'chach
is a strip four tefachim (32cm) wide running from the middle of the
middle wall all the way to the end of the succa, the whole succa is
passul. This is because the invalid s'chach effectively divides the
succa into two parts - two succos each with two walls  and a succa
must have three walls .
2. If the area of invalid s'chach measures four by four tefachim (32cm
x 32cm), one is forbidden to eat or sleep under this area but the rest
of the succa is kosher .
3. There is a halacha l'Moshe mi'Sinai called "dofen akuma". If the
non-kosher s'chach is located along the sides of the succa (even all
sides), this does not invalidate the succa unless it is four amos wide
(1.92m). We consider it as if the adjacent wall bends over and extends
all the way to the kosher s'chach. The non-kosher s'chach is thus
considered part of the wall. Although the succa is kosher, one can
only eat or sleep under the invalid s'chach if it is less than four
tefachim (32cm) wide .
Practical applications of this halacha include: i) a succa built under
the eaves or on a porch with some overhang that invalidates the
s'chach underneath. ii) a succa which has a retractable roof that
cannot close all the way leaving some s'chach permanently covered over
. In both cases, the covered s'chach is considered part of a bent
4. If the invalid s'chach is less than four tefachim by four tefachim
(32cm x 32cm), one may eat and sleep even under that area.
5. Empty spaces within the s'chach are different from s'chach passul.
If the airspace extends from one end of the succa to the other ,
an empty area of just three tefachim (24cm) invalidates the entire
succa . This applies even if the airspace is adjacent to the wall
because we do not apply the law of dofen akuma to an empty space 
(see E3 above).
6. Airspace less than three tefachim by three tefachim does not
invalidate the succa. However one should not eat or sleep under this
area  if the empty space extends along the entire succa or if
a person's head or the majority of his body can fit under the space.
If these invalidating characteristics are absent, it would be
permissible to eat and sleep under the empty spaces, for there is no
succa that does not have small empty spaces within the s'chach .
F. A succa under a tree
If a succa is located under a tree and the tree's branches prevent
sunshine from entering the succa, the halacha is determined as
1. If the tree prevents the majority of sunshine, the succa is passul.
2. There is a difference of opinion in the situation where the tree
does not prevent the majority of sunshine and most of the shade is
from the s'chach of the succa itself. Unless it is a case of great
need, one should not make or use such a succa even if it is directly
under only a few small branches  and even if there is a large
distance between the s'chach and the tree .
3. If a succa is not directly under a tree, but there are branches
overhead along the side which prevent sunshine from entering the
succa, it is still kosher because the branches are not directly above
1. Orach Chaim (O.C.) 635:1, Mishna Berura (M.B.) 635:1.
2. Piskei Teshuvos 635:1, Quoting Chelkas Yoav, Moadim U'zmanim,
Vol.8. p.23. When one places the s'chach for the sake of the mitzva,
their intention is to fulfil the mitzva properly, namely that the
s'chach should offer shade. Therefore special kavana for shade is not
3. O.C., ibid: (ie: a succa of a non-Jew)
5. Chachmas Shlomo 635,Kaf HaChaim 635:8.Also based on: M.B. 649:14
quoting Magen Avraham. There are opinions that someone who is not
obligated in a mitzva is not allowed to prepare this mitzva for
someone who is obligated. This is only a stringency but nevertheless
one should try to observe it. See also Succa K'Hilchesa p.35 note 6,
who quotes Lev Chaim 2:209 who rules that s'chach placed by a non-Jew
is invalid because perhaps his intention was for a permanent dwelling
or for a storehouse.
A boy who is thirteen years of age but has not yet grown shtei
sa'aros, (two pubic hairs), is still considered a minor. (see O.C.
55:9). If we are in doubt as to whether a thirteen year old boy has
grown shtei sa'aros, the Pri Migadim, Eshel Avraham 14:1 rules that we
do not have to concern ourselves if he grew shtei sa'aros. However
Piskei Teshuvos 635:1 quotes HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik who ruled that
the ramifications of this doubt concern obligations that are Min
HaTorah, Biblical laws, and therefore one should be stringent if there
is doubt that he is still a minor. Orchos Rabbeinu writes that Harav
Y. Y. Kaneivsky was also stringent in this area.
6. Kaf HaChaim 625:11 following the principle: mitzva bo yoseir
mib'shlucho, it is greater for one to perform a mitzva himself than
through an agent. See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 134:1, also Piskei
7. O.C. 631:1, M.B. 631:1. There are three issues to consider here.
Firstly, it is not that we need more shade than sunshine. Rather,
having more sunshine than shade invalidates the succa. Therefore, half
shade and half sunshine is valid (Succa, 22b). Secondly, it appears to
this author that the din concerning more sunshine than shade applies
on the upper and lower parts of the succa. Lastly, since sunshine
tends to spread out over an area, there will always be more sunshine
in the lower part of the succa (Gemara ibid., O.C. ibid).
8. O.C. 631:4.See E5.For the purpose of this article we are using
measurements based on the opinion of Rav Chaim Na'eh. In this instance
the shiur of 1 tefach=8cm is considered the stringent opinion.
9. Rema 631:2 with M.B. 631:4.
10. O.C. 631:3, M.B. 631:5. The Mishna Berura also quotes the Pri
Migadim that if one can see the stars in one area of the succa, the
entire succa is valid.
11. M.B. ibid quotes Maharil and says that this is so because there
are some cracks and crevices in the s'chach through which sunlight can
penetrate into the succa. The Bichurei Yaakov writes that one can rely
on this leniency.
12. M.B. 631.6 because it resembles the roof of a house. However if
for whatever reason one cannot remove some of the s'chach, one can
rely on those who rule that the succa is still valid.
13. O.C. 629:1
14. O.C. 629:13; M.B. 629:36 adds however that if it was cut and
then replanted it may be used.
15. O.C. 629:4, 5, M.B. 629:12, 13.
16. M.B. 629:4.
17. O.C. 629:1.
18. Vayikra 11.32, Rambam, Kalim 1:1.
19. O.C. 629:2, 3, 6, M.B. 629: 2, 8, 10, 20.
20. Minchas Shlomo 1:22: Mikra'ei Kodesh, Succa siman 12.
21. O.C. 629:9.
22. O.C. 629:10
23. O.C. 629:14.
25. O.C. 629:15
26. O.C. 629: 15-17.
27. O.C. 629:18. The same applies even if they are turned on their
side and the sides are narrower than four tefachim.
28. O.C. 629:18, M.B. 629:49. There are two reasons for this custom.
(1) They might be placed in such a way as to prevent rain from
entering the succa. (2) Since these boards are used as roofing for
homes, it resembles a roof of a house.
29. Piskei Teshuvos 629:15 quotes Tzitz Eliezer that many Gedolim
used such s'chach. Piskei Teshuvos, ibid quotes Sefer Succa Hashaleim
that this was the minhag of Yerushalayim in the times of HaRav Chaim
Yosef Sonnefeld zt"l, and HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank. Their reasoning is
that they do not prevent rain from entering the succa. Also it is not
common to use them for roofing. It would be better if each board would
not be wider than a tefach (8cm).
30. M.B. 629:50 writes that in case of emergency, it is permissible
to even use boards that are four tefachim wide.
31. O.C. 629:6; M.B. 629:18, 21.
32. This is known as S'chach Netzach. See Piskei Teshuvos 629:6 who
writes that the present day Poskim are in disagreement on this issue.
The reasoning of those who restrict its use is that the reeds of the
mats are sewn with threads of flax and have the appearance of one wide
beam, which is four tefachim wide. We have already learnt that this is
invalid for use as s'chach.
33. O.C. 629:7, M.B. 629:22.
34. See Section C: Materials Kosher and Not Kosher for s'chach
35. M.B. 629:26. Piskei Teshuvos 629:11 quotes B'Tzel HaChachma 5:44
that this only applies if the s'chach is very light in which even any
ordinary wind can blow the s'chach away. Hence the string prevents the
s'chach from blowing. However if the s'chach is very sturdy and a
typical wind cannot blow it away, and one wants to tie it down just to
prevent an unusually strong wind from blowing the s'chach away, then
it would be permissible.
36. Magen Avraham 627:2, Sha'ar HaTzion 633:6. In this instance it
is forbidden even if the s'chach can withstand an ordinary wind.
Nailing the s'chach down makes the succa a permanent dwelling. See
Piskei Teshuvos 629:11.
37. Rema 629:7, M.B. 629:24. Utensils would have the same status as
string in note 3, and would be permissible to place on s'chach that
can withstand typical winds on its own.
38. M.B. 629:22. Ma'amid, supporting the s'chach with invalid
materials was restricted because one may come to use them for the
s'chach itself. Since it is unlikely one would use stone as s'chach
there is no concern. The Chazon Ish writes that even though some
cement contains threads of metal, it is not noticeable. It is also
only meant to strengthen the cement so there is no concern.
39. Mikraei Kodesh Succos 1:21. For more explanation see Piskei
40. M.B. 629:22. The prohibition of using invalid materials for
support is only l'chatchila, before it was built, it does not
invalidate the succa. See also Biur Halacha 630, S.V. Kol Hadevarim.
41. O.C. 629:8: M.B. 629:26.
42. Chazon Ish 143:2.
43. The laws discussed in this section are discussed in O.C.632.
44. O.C. 632:1, M.B. 632:2, 14. Piskei Teshuvos 632:1 with note 10
explains that invalid s'chach can only divide the succa if its width
is also at least 4 tefachim. If it is narrower, even if it extends the
entire length of the succa, it is still considered one succa. See also
45. O.C. 630:2, M.B. 630:6. A succa which measures seven tefachim by
seven tefachim is entirely invalidated by s'chach passul measuring
only three tefachim by three tefachim (24cm x 24cm), O.C. 632:1.
46. O.C. 632:1. Even though when the Shulchan Aruch rules that the
shiur, measurement of s'chach passul is four tefachim he is discussing
a case when it extends the entire length of the succa (M.B. 632:2).
The Tur, quoted in Pri Megadim, Eshel Avraham 632:4 rules that if in
one area both the length and width of the invalid s'chach is four
tefachim (however it is not enough to have an area which is equivalent
to four square tefachim), See Piskei Teshuvos 632:1, 8. The M.B. 632:6
explains that an area which is four tefachim by four tefachim has the
status of being a place for itself and cannot be battul
(negated/nullified) to the rest of the succa.
47. O.C. 632:1. See M.B. 632:4, 5 for additional relevant halachos.
48. See M.B. 626:21. See Piskei Teshuvos 632:9 who offers advice for
one who makes a succa on a porch in which the roof partially covers
49. O.C. 632:1. M.B. 632:3 writes that there is an opinion that one
cannot eat or sleep under s'chach passul unless it measures less than
three tefachim. The M.B. rules that it is preferable to follow this
opinion. However the Chazon Ish was not concerned with this opinion.
Shoneh Halachos 632:1, based on Chazon Ish O.C. 144:2, 4.
50. O.C. 632:2. See M.B. 632:10 for why airspace is more stringent
than invalid s'chach. Though the Shulchan Aruch does not mention that
the airspace must be at least three tefachim by three tefachim, we
have already mentioned that when we say the Shiur for s'chach passul
is four tefachim we mean four tefachim by four tefachim. The same
applies to airspace, it is only invalid if it measures three tefachim
by three tefachim.
51. The Rema 632:2 writes that if the airspace extends the length of
the succa and there does not remain three walls and seven tefachim by
seven tefachim on either side, the succa is invalid. If however there
is an area with three walls and seven by seven tefachim, that
particular area remains valid. See M.B. 632:13, 14 who explains the
52. Biur Halacha 632 S.V. Avir
53. O.C. 632:2. See M.B. 632:10 for the reason why airspace less
than three tefachim is more stringent than s'chach passul less than
four tefachim which one is permitted to eat and sleep under that area
54. See Sefer Hilchos Chag B'chag 9:12 with note 20 that according
to the Chazon Ish this presents a practical problem. If one uses
bamboo poles for s'chach, if all bamboo is laid in one direction, ie,
widthwise or lengthwise, there will be an airspace across the entire
succa. Therefore one must lay at least some s'chach across. If all of
the s'chach is laid out lengthwise, then some poles should be laid
widthwise and would break up the airspace. Others say that a very
narrow airspace even if it extends the entire length of the succa is
not a problem. Some say even until the thickness of a tefach. Other
shiurim are also mentioned. See Piskei Teshuvos 632:12 for more on
55. Rema, 632:2, M.B. 632:11, 12.
56. O.C. 626.1.
57. O.C. 626:1 brings two opinions on this matter. Biur Halacha S.V.
V'yeish Omrim explains that the Shulchan Aruch rules according to the
stricter opinion. The Pri Megadim also sides with this ruling. The
Biur Halacha adds that in a time of necessity, if another succa is not
available and he is unable to cut branches down. one can rely on the
lenient opinion. The Rema 626:1 writes that one should not make a
succa under a tree. Piskei Teshuvos 626:1 quotes Bichurei Yosef and
Kaf HaChaim 626:6 who explains that the Rema's intention is that even
in a case where all opinions agree that the succa is kosher, one
should still not make a succa there.
58. Piskei Teshuvos 626:1 with note 4 quoting Beis Meir; Da'as
Torah; Chelkas Yoav; Mikra'ei Kodesh Succa 1:15. Sefer Succa
K'Hilchisa p.74 writes that he also heard the same from HaRav Shlomo
Zalman Auerbach zt"l.
59. Biur Halacha 626 S.V. Tachas Ha'ilan.