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I've seen some sukkahs (especially ones where they've had big "make sukkah decorations" kids' projects) where there are tons and tons and tons of decorations hanging down from the schach. At what point would that invalidate the sukkah? Are there other decoration issues that are problematic?

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@msh210: copied the note from there. the Nitei Gavriel discusses this in Chapter 21 of his laws of the Holiday of Sukkot, here: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=46442&pgnum=145 –  Menachem Oct 11 '11 at 15:37

2 Answers 2

  • Even if there's a decoration that completely covers the schach, if it's placed there merely for decoration, than it isn't a problem, provided that the decorations are within 4 tefachim of the schach (Gemara Sukka 10a, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 627:4)

  • However, this is assuming that they have been placed there for the purpose of decorations, otherwise, even a small object placed there for another reason (such as to catch leaves) would be a problem (ibid). This means that one (who needs to eat/sleep in a sukka) cannot sit underneath it, and it might make the whole sukkah invalid if it's too big (see daf 17 and the Shulchan Aruch 632). Most assume that this is true even if it is very close to the Sukkah (as implied by the Gemara on daf 10, though there are more details and conditions, see Mishnah Berura 627:14 and S.A. 629:19)

  • A lamp/light is considered a decoration and wouldn't invalidate the sukkah. In fact, the Chayei Adam writes that a person can even place a lamp lower than 4 tefachim from the schach if he does out of fear that otherwise the schach will catch fire, and the Mishnah Berurah agrees (627:19). I assume that the halakha would be the same regarding an electric lamp that could overheat and ignite the schach (but CYLOR, of course)

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As long as they are within 4 tefachim of the sechach, they are batel to the sechach- even a lot of decorations. (S.A. O.C. 627:4)

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What if it's like a fancy hanging beaded chain that is hung vertically from the schach? (Okay probably less than a foot long, but what if ...)? Does the same apply if I'm hanging lights from my schach? –  Shalom Aug 30 '10 at 14:54
    
Regarding this halacha, the Aruch Hashulchan refers to Siman 632 which talks about 4 tefachim of sechach pasul being batel. I guess it's the same halacha vertically and more than 4 tefachim would not be batel. However, you still get another 4 tefachim horizontally before you can't sit under it (it's still batel horizontally). –  YDK Aug 30 '10 at 15:38
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So if I put a blanket directly underneath my schach (assume the rain could get through it) -- or a bugnet -- is that still kosher? –  Shalom Aug 30 '10 at 16:13
    
It looks from YDK's SA source that a decorative blanket would be fine, but a non-decorative bugnet may indeed be a problem. From one read through the SA, Rama, and Mishna Berura there, it seems to me that the answer to your original question is dependent on at least the size and purpose of the decorations. If I have time later, I'll translate some of that material here. Also, I haven't yet looked at SA OC 632, which the MB calls out here and which looks directly relevant. hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14166&st=&pgnum=175 –  Isaac Moses Aug 30 '10 at 16:46

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