As far as I understand, the Mitzvah of Sukkah is to eat and sleep in it and treat it as your home.

Nevertheless, the minimum size of a Sukkah is 7 x 7 tefachim, which is big enough to eat in but not big enough to sleep in.

Why is it possible to fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah lechatchila with a Sukkah that is too small to fulfill one of its two primary purposes?

2 Answers 2


The Gemara relates that such a Succah i.e. a 7x7 tefachim Succah can still hold ראשו ורובו ושלחנו - his head, the majority of his body and his table - Refer also to the Mishnah Berurah 634:1.

Such dimensions did still allow for sleeping. Bear in mind, as Rashi asserts (also mentioned in Sh'ar HaTzion 634:1), "דרך סעודתן בהסיבה" they would eat in those days leaning, so they were anyway half lying down to a certain extent.

ראשו ורובו - דרך סעודתן בהסיבה היתה על מטות ומסובין על צד שמאלם ואין אוכלין זקופין ויושבין כמונו לפיכך הוצרך לומר ראשו ורובו לאפוקי קטנה שראשו נכנס בה ושלחנו ולא רובו או ראשו ורובו ולא שלחנו

His head and the majority of his body - the way of eating their meal was by leaning on beds (chaise-longues?) and leaning on their left side, and they wouldn't eat upright, and they would sit like this. Therefore it is necessary to say "his head and the majority of his body" to exclude where a little part of his head went into it and his table but not the majority of his body, or his head, the majority of his body but not his table.

So whilst possibly uncomfortable, one is still able to sleep in such a Succah - Refer to the diagram printed at the bottom of the page in the Peirush Chai here

  • "very uncomfortable" Why so uncomfortable? He lies down, his head and most of his body are sheltered by the sukkah and his legs stick out. That doesn't sound so bad.
    – MichoelR
    Sep 19, 2021 at 13:32
  • True - I guess it depends on how much one likes their home comforts :)
    – Dov
    Sep 19, 2021 at 14:01
  • 1
    Yeah, well, a sukkah isn't that much protection, but what it is, it is. And no more than ראשו ורובו ושלחנו was promised!
    – MichoelR
    Sep 19, 2021 at 15:20

The Mishnah Berura in 640:26 asks this exact same question:

כו) לא מקרי מצטער - דדרך האדם לפעמים לישן כך כפוף וראיה מהא דקי"ל ששיעור סוכה שבעה על שבעה טפחים שבודאי אין אדם יכול לישן שם אם לא בכפיפת גופו ואיבריו ולפ"ז אפילו אם עשה אותה לכתחלה באופן שראויה לישן שם בפישוט ואח"כ בא איזה ענין שנעשה דחוק וצר לישכב ג"כ מחוייב לישן שם וכתב בספר נהר שלום דמ"מ מי שהוא מעונג וקים ליה בגויה דלדידיה הוי מצטער לישן שם בכפיפה אה"נ שפטור מלישן שם [ואעפ"כ יוצא י"ח באכילה כיון שבעת עשייה היה ראוי לדידיה לאכול ולישן שם]:

(RSZ”A explains (brought in the Dirshu) that since Chazal say 7x7 is good enough, then him being uncomfortable is not due to the sukkah but rather because he’s more particular).

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