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Sukkot - Pergola

Practical Instructions for Those Interested in Building a Sukkah Using a Wooden Pergola:

A. A pergola made from loose beams: If most of the pergola’s beams; are not secured with nails or screws, provide shade to the majority of the area of the pergola (i.e. they fulfill the halachic requirement of tzeilta meruba meichamta), and are not so close to each other that rain could not fall between them – then the pergola is a perfectly kosher sukkah (provided there are kosher walls as well). In such a case, it is proper to "renew" the sukkah by adding something new to the . The new schach would need to measure at least a tefach by tefach, or, if it is less than a tefach wide, it would need to extend across the whole length or width of the sukkah.

B. A pergola whose beams are attached: If most of the pergola’s beams are attached with nails or screws:

1) If the beams do not provide shade to the majority of the area of the pergola, meaning, the space between each beam is wider than the width of a beam, so that there is more sun coming into the pergola than shade, then:

a. If one puts kosher schach in the spaces between the beams, so that the new schach, without help from the beams, will provide shade to most of the space of the pergola, then the sukkah is completely kosher.

b. Even if there is not enough kosher schach to provide shade to the majority of the pergola, without counting the shade provided by the beams, if one places kosher schach on top of the beams, then the beams become inconsequential, and the sukkah is perfectly kosher.

2) If the beams of the pergola provide shade to a majority of the pergola, by themselves, and one would like to use such a pergola for a sukka: one may rely on the opinion of many authorities who permit such a sukkah, as long as one puts on a small amount of new schach, as mentioned above.

Under all circumstances, one must ensure that the walls are built before the schach is put up. One does not need complete walls before putting up the schach, but even walls that are a tefach tall, close to the schach, and follow along the perimeter of the sukkah, would be sufficient. For example, if the frame of the top of the pergola is made from wooden beams, which are more than a tefach wide, then those beams would be sufficient to be considered as walls, and, since they were present before the beams that are to be used as s'chach were put down, one fulfills the requirement of having walls before the schach through the frame of the pergola. However, if this condition was not fulfilled, and the schach was up before the walls were built, one needs to move the s'chach after the walls are built-meaning, to lift the beams up and place them back down. If one did not do this, there are those who invalidate the sukkah, even after the fact (b’dieved), and there are those who permit it.

(From Eretz Hemdah. See B'Mareh Bazak vol 5 #59 for more information)

Wed, December 7 2022 13 Kislev 5783