Tying Down Schach

 Courtesy of Ohr Olam Mishnah Berurah

Question: May one fasten the sechach to the sukkah, to prevent it from being blown away by the wind?

Discussion: On the one hand, sechach certainly should be secured in a manner that will prevent it from blowing off in the wind.1 This is especially relevant to sechach made of mats, which are all the more liable to be lifted by the wind.2 However, one may not nail or screw the sechach in place.3 This is because a sukkah must be a temporary dwelling. Therefore, the sechach, which is the primary feature of the sukkah, may not be fixed in the manner of a permanent structure. Since nailing or screwing is characteristic of permanent structures, it invalidates the sechach by Torah law.

However, one may tie the sechach down,4 because tying is not considered a form of permanent construction.5 Another suggestion is to weigh the mats down by tying heavy wooden beams to the ends of the mats.6

1. Shulchan Aruch 628:2.

2. See below, “Pointers of caution regarding the more common types of sechach” (p. 527).

3. Sha’ar Hatziyun 633:6; Sefer Hasukkah (new edition, II, p. 91, Beirurim 51), citing R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. However, Derech Yisrael (p. 349, ד”ה ולולב) and Shevet HaLevi (X:93) suggest that Sha’ar Hatziyun referred only to slats nailed in a manner in which one would usually build a roof and which would prevent the rain from entering. Therefore, Shevet HaLevi rules leniently with respect to common sechach.

4. Mishnah Berurah, 629:26. As noted above, one should, lechatchilah, tie the sechach down with something that is itself valid for sechach, such as cords of natural fibers. See, further, footnote 12.

5. Shalmei Todah, p. 337; Sefer Hasukkah, new edition, 18, footnote 46.

6. These beams may be fastened to the mats even with items that are not valid sechach, such as plastic cable ties. Since the ties are not directly securing down the sechach but, rather, are securing the beams that are securing the sechach, they have the status of ma’amid d’ma’amid, which may consist of even invalid materials (see above, “Ma’amid”).