Greco-Roman Period
The holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) is celebrated by living in booths for seven days, commemorating the booths Jews are said to have lived in after the Exodus from Egypt. The sukkah (booth) must be built according to specific regulations designed to ensure that it is a frail, temporary structure.

1- 1 A sukkah which is more than twenty cubits high 83 is unfit, [but] Rabbi Judah
permits it. If it is less than ten handbreadths high, or does not have three sides, or if its
unshaded area exceeds its shaded area, it is unfit. An old sukkah- the House of Shammai
declares it unfit, but the House of Hillel validates it. And what is an “old sukkah”?
Anyone which he made thirty days before the festival. But if it was made for the sake of
the festival, even from the beginning of the year, 84 it is valid.

2 One who builds his sukkah under a tree, it is as though he built it inside a house. If one
sukkah is [built] on top of another, the upper one is valid but the lower one is unfit. Rabbi
Judah says- “If there are no occupants in the upper one, the lower one is valid….”

4 If he suspended a grapevine or a gourd vine, or ivy over it and spread sekhakh 85 upon
them, it is unfit. But if the sekhakh exceeds them or if he cut them, the sukkah is valid.
This is the general rule- whatever is subject to defilement 86 or does not grow from the
ground may not be used as sekhakh; whatever is not subject to defilement and grows
from the ground may be used as sekhakh.

5 Bundles of straw, or bundles of wood, or bundles of sprouts may not be used as
sekhakh. But all of these, if they are untied, are valid, and all of these are valid for the
walls [of the sukkah].

6 Boards may be used for sekhakh, according to Rabbi Judah. But Rabbi Meir forbids
[them]. If one puts a board four handbreadths wide over the sukkah it is valid, provided
that he does not sleep under it….

9 One who suspends the walls from above downward, if the height [of the space] is
three handbreadths higher than the ground, the sukkah is unfit. If [he extends them] from
below upwards, and they measure ten handbreadths high from the ground [even if they do
not reach the roofing], it is valid. Rabbi Yose says- “Just as from below upwards the
height must be ten handbreadths, so from the top downwards there must be ten
handbreadths.” If the roofing is three handbreadths away from the walls, the sukkah is

11 One who makes his sukkah like a hut (“v-shaped”), or props it up against a wall,
Rabbi Eliezer declares it unfit since it has no roof, but the Sages declare it fit. A large
reed-mat which was made for lying upon is subject to defilement and may not be used for
sekhakh. [If it was made] for roofing, it may be used and is not subject to defilement.
Rabbi Eliezer says- “It is all the same whether it is large or small. If it was made for
lying upon it is subject to defilement and may not be used for sekhakh. [If it was made]
for sekhakh, it may be used for sekhakh and is not subject to defilement.”

82. Trans.S. Berrin.

83. Approximately 30 feet.

84. That is, even if it were made right after the conclusion of the festival a year earlier.

85. “Covering,” the roof of leaves, grass, or boards.

86. Foods, as well as manufactured vessels, even of natural materials, are susceptible to ritual defilement.
They may not be used for sekhakh.