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The Chazon Ish in Hilchos Sukkah 143:2 writes:

ולכן לדידן שאנו נוהגין להחמיר בדין המעמיד הסכך בדבר המקבל טומאה כדעת רמב"ן ור"ן, אין לקבוע הכלונסות במסמרים.

Therefore according to us, who are stringent in the law of supporting the schach with something which can become tamei, one should not stabilize the planks (which support the schach) with nails.

(This is the source of the famous no-nail "Chazon Ish sukkah")

Question: The Mishnah in KEILIM 11:3 states:

העושה כלים... וּמִן הַמַּסְמְרוֹת, שֶׁיָּדוּעַ שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ מִכְּלִי, טְמֵאִין. מִן הַמַּסְמְרוֹת, בֵּית שַׁמַּאי מְטַמְּאִין, וּבֵית הִלֵּל מְטַהֲרִין:

One who makes vessels... from nails that were known to have been made from vessels, are impure. From ordinary nails: Beit Shammai says: they are impure; and Beit Hillel says that they are pure.

We see from this Mishnah that (according to Bais Hillel, as is the halachah) only nails which are definitely recycled from other vessels are mekabel tumah, but regular nails are not mekabel Tumah.

So why does the Chazon Ish not allow supporting the schach with nailed planks?

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  • Is it possible that the m'kabel tum'a he's referring to is the resulting structure of a beam affixed to an upright, and not the nail itself (as opposed to the case where the nail is just loosely holding the two components together)? The attachment of two pieces of wood in such a way - rendering them not "p'shutei k'lei etz" - has some precedent in Kelim 15:2 and elsewhere.
    – WAF
    Jun 19 '18 at 18:53
  • No, It is clear from everyone who quotes the Chazon Ish that the issue is with the nails themselves. Jun 19 '18 at 18:59
  • Although the Chazon Ish says that based on the Rishonim who hold maamid is a problem with something that's mekabel tuma, it would be the same with any schach passul for whatever reason, except a tree (se Chazon Ish there). So maybe metal nails are a problem because they're not grown from the ground and therefore can't be a maamid either, not because of mekabel tuma per se. Just wondering.
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 22 at 2:54
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This is a very good question, which has been fully addressed in בני בנים ג:ו ד"ה עוד קשה לי by Rav Yehudah Herzl Henkin, who concludes that nails do not actually pose a problem of tumah.

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  • It seems like he just accepts the question that indeed this chumra that people say in the name of the chazon ish is mistaken. That's only sort of an answer.
    – Double AA
    Oct 7 '20 at 13:36
  • 1. The issue we are discussing - namely the tumah status of nails - is not something that "people say in the name of the Chazon Ish." Rather, as correctly quoted by RibbisRabbiAndMore above, it appears explicitly in his writing. What Rav Henkin points out that people say in the name of the Chazon Ish, but does not appear explicitly in his writings is a different issue - namely that it is forbidden to use such nails to attach the walls of the sukka to each other. Oct 8 '20 at 6:52
  • 2. Rav Henkin does not "accept" anything. Rather he shows, using a array of sources including the one quoted by RibbisRabbiAndMore above, that nails do not in fact mekkabel tumah. The answer to RibbisRabbiAndMore's question is "correct." Stating outright that the Chazon Ish made an error would be considered rude, and that's why no one has said it. Oct 8 '20 at 6:57
  • You're comments don't appear to add anything beyond my summary comment above.
    – Double AA
    Oct 8 '20 at 13:54

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