The Proper Dimensions of a Sukkah
Courtesy of Ohr Olam Mishnah Berurah
Question: What is the minimum size of a sukkah?
Discussion: The minimum size of a sukkah is seven by seven tefachim76 (which is 70 by 70 cm77). This measure is based on the premise that a person occupies six by six tefachim, with an added tefach for a minimum-size table.78 Therefore, it is not sufficient for the sukkah to merely have an area equivalent to the area of seven by seven tefachim; the sukkah must actually have both a length and width of at least seven tefachim.79
Question: Does the fact that the minimum measure of a sukkah is calculated so as to include a table mean that one must have a table inside the sukkah?
Discussion: Mishnah Berurah does state that one should make sure to have a table in the sukkah even when he sleeps.80 However, many opine that this is a text error and the Mishnah Berurah did not intend to require this.81
Question: If a sukkah has a protruding area that is less than seven by seven tefachim, may one use that area?
Discussion: Mishnah Berurah82 rules that one may not eat or sleep in such an area. Chazon Ish83 differs and rules that as an extension of the larger sukkah, that area as well may be used, as long as it is not separated from the larger sukkah by a tzuras hapesach or the like. Should this be relevant, a competent halachic authority should be consulted, as there may be other factors which would permit using this area even according to Mishnah Berurah.
76. Shulchan Aruch 634:1.
77. Assuming the calculation of Chazon Ish, which is the more stringent view in this case.
78. Mishnah Berurah (634:1). See Sha’ar Hatziyun (634:1) and Chazon Ish (150:3) for different suggestions as to why six by seven tefachim would not be sufficient.
79. Shulchan Aruch 632:2.
81. See Halichos Shlomo (p. 164), Da’as Yo’el (Kluft, 34). Zichron Shmuel (Rozovsky, 29:12) notes that Sha’ar Hatziyun (634:7) indicates that one is not required to have a table in the sukkah even when eating. Sha’ar Hatziyun explains that although one may not eat off of a table that is outside the sukkah (see Shulchan Aruch 634:3), one who is not eating off a table is not required to have a table inside. If so, how could Mishnah Berurah require a table when sleeping? Also, if someone is sleeping on a bed, presumably the bed itself can act as a table (considering that Chazal required a table of no more than the width of a tefach (10 cm), and they provided no additional specifications).
Yet, there is testimony that the Chafetz Chaim himself was careful to have a table in the sukkah even when sleeping. Halichos Shlomo (ibid., footnote 105) and Mo’adim Uzemanim (I:87) question the veracity of this report. See, also, Sefer Hasukkah, new edition, I, p. 422.