The Mishnah in Gemara Sukkah 2a states: סוכה שהיא גבוהה למעלה מעשרים אמה פסולה. Rava states that the explanation of the 20 amos height limitation of the Mishnah finds its restriction in the fact that a Sukkah must be a דירת עראי. Is a דירת עראי defined by its material makeup or an abstract dimension?

  • I'd add to this Q that Rashi Sukkah 14a (right after the mishnah) seems to say you cannot stay in your house for sukkot even if your house is technically a kosher sukkah. What's his source for that? Is there a technical definition of what makes a house versus sukkah or is it just that you cannot stay where you live year round (i.e., what if you live in a sukkah year round).
    – Avraham
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 5:53
  • Will attempt to answer this but it will need more context via other questions.
    – user28988
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 6:17

1 Answer 1


Rava states that temporariness is not determined by the materials used to construct a sukkah. Rather, temporariness is determined by an abstract dimensional range. Any sukkah constructed up to 20 amos in height is a דירת עראי.

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And, even if a person builds (or could build) his sukkah out of temporary materials above 20 amos he does not fulfill his obligation because his sukkah would occupy a dimension of קבע. As Rava states to Abaye in the Gemara: א”ל הכי קאמינא לך עד כ’ אמה דאדם עושה דירתו דירת עראי כי עביד ליה דירת קבע נמי נפיק למעלה מכ’ אמה דאדם עושה דירתו דירת קבע כי עביד ליה דירת עראי נמי לא נפיק.

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Accordingly, Rashi states in his commentary on Gemara 2b that Rabbah and Rebbi Zeira did not agree with Rava’s source for the 20 amos height limitation of a sukkah because they did not want to learn out from the words שבעת ימים an abstract measurement regarding the concept of temporariness. Instead, they felt that if the words שבעת ימים could be interpreted to mean that a sukkah should be built in some sort of temporary fashion, it would have to be understood as Abaye did in the terms of the material makeup of the sukkah.

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Another proof that the definition of a דירת עראי is not determined by the materials used but is an abstract range determined as 20 amos or less can be learned from Gemara 7b where Rebbi Yehuda is listed as one of eight Tannaim that hold that a sukkah is a דירת קבע on the basis that he validates a sukkah above 20 amos in height. From this we find proof for Rava’s understanding that a sukkah which is built less than 20 amos in height is in the dimensional range of what is considered a דירת עראי.

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Additionally, this understanding of an abstract measurement verses a material concept of עראי and קבע is further observed in the same Gemara on 7b in referencing Rebbe’s opinion that the קבע of a sukkah is established as one that is 4×4 amos or greater, regardless of its material makeup. And conversely, Rebbe maintains that a sukkah less than 4×4 amos is a דירת עראי.

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Furthermore, on the basis of an abstract measurement of 4×4 amos, the Baraisa on 3b regarding the laws of houses determines whether a house is a דירת קבע or a דירת עראי.

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  • It sounds like you are saying "דירת עראי" is code for physical dimensions. It's a nice svara but I have several questions. (1) Rebbi defines keva as 4x4 amot. So would Rava posel a sukkah that was larger than 4x4?! Wouldn't such a sukkah be keva? (2) We see other variables contribute to keva on 7b, such as ability to stand up to wind, being round, etc. (3) what does Rava means when he says "above 20 amot a person does not make his dira dirat arai" and Rashi's perush there? (4) According to Rava, why wouldn't a sukkah built out of bricks not require a mezuzah a we see on Yoma 10b?
    – Avraham
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 5:50
  • In fact, I would ask on Rava: Rava seems to say a sukkah above 20 cannot be built in a temporary way, as understood by Rashi. But then he says if you built a temporary sukkah over 20 it would be pasul. Maybe he just means that we see it is normal for people to build both permanent and temporary structures under 20 amot, but it is abnormal to build a temporary structure over 20. (And if so, what's his source for that? Just observation?)
    – Avraham
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 6:02
  • I will attempt to address each item. Regarding (1) Rava would not posel a sukkah greater than 4x4. It is important to note that he is only addressing עראי in regards to the dimension of height to answer the Mishnah. He is not addressing עראי in regards to length since he is explaining the 20 amos height limitation of a sukkah. See 3aמאן תנא להא דתנו רבנן: בית שאין בו ארבע אמות על ארבע אמות and 3b לימא רבי היא ולא רבנן? אפילו תימא רבנן, עד כאן לא קאמרי רבנן התם אלא לענין סוכה regarding the concept of עראי for length. Will post more on this via other questions. It needs more context.
    – user28988
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 6:13
  • So you're saying the tannaim have different theories of the single variable that defines arai vs keva? That's an interesting theory. But certainly there are shitot that say a sukkah can be keva OR arai right? Like the Rabbanan d'Rebi wouldn't posel a large sukkah would they? And Rabbi Akiva wouldn't posel a sukkah that can stand up to strong wind. How do those opinions fit in?
    – Avraham
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 6:20
  • This content appears to be copied without license or attribution from sukkah.home.blog. Please see judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/75/… , and edit this answer to express the points necessary to address the question, in your own words.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 15:07

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