“You shall dwell in sukkot for seven days; all the community of Israel shall dwell in a sukkah.”—Vayikra 23:42
SUKKOTH INTRODUCTION—IMPORTANCE. WHAT CBI DOES.
A kosher sukkah possesses several essential traits:
Ensure a site that is opened to the sky, and has nothing hanging above it such as a roof or a tree. The floor space must be at least 7 tefachim by 7 tefachim (28 inches by 28 inches), the minimum space considered for a person to sit with a small table.
A sukkah needs at least two complete, continuous walls, and a third wall of at least one tefach (4 inches). The walls can consist of any material, as long as they are sturdy enough to withstand a normal wind.
Walls must be at least 10 tefachim (40 inches) high, and not exceed a height of 20 amot (30 feet). Any of these walls may be permanent and pre-existing walls, such as the side of your home. If you can find an area that is already enclosed by two or three walls, it can make your sukkah building much simpler.
Note: if you are using the side of your home as a wall for your sukkah, ensure that there is no roof overhang greater than 4 amot (6 feet). Any cover smaller than that may still be acceptable, although one cannot sit under the covered part to fulfill one’s mitzvah.
We cover the sukkah with schach, or the roof. The schach must be made from material that grew from the ground, such branches or leaves of any tree, so long as they have been completely cut from the ground before they are placed on top of the sukkah. If you choose to collect branches and leaves from around town, you must make sure that you do not inadvertently remove material from property that is not your own without permission. One may not use any material that has been formed by human hands into a vessel or “thing,” such as wooden blinds, but you can use narrow, unfinished wood boards (less than 1 tefach, or 4 inches wide) as schach, as they are not considered a created vessel or thing.
You may purchase a mat composed of strung-together pieces of bamboo or other unfinished wood, but be aware that not every mat is constructed according to Halacha, so that it contains no metal, and was not crafted for some other purpose. You can order kosher schach mats online, but be sure that they come with a reputable rabbinic certification.
The schach material should only be added after the requisite number of walls are in place. The schach may be neither nailed nor tied down. You may pile pieces of wood that are valid as schach over other schach to weigh it down and keep it from blowing away. The schach should be sufficiently covered so that it gives more shade than sun during the daytime, yet it should be sufficiently open for stars could be visible through it at night.
It is a good custom to hang decorations to beautify your sukkah and add joy to the holiday.