How to Build a Succah
Much joy – little effort – have a go at building a succah!
1. A succah needs three walls. (You can get away with two and a bit but the rules are complicated, so stick to three.) A fourth wall will give more protection but isn’t halachically required.
2. The walls may be made of anything. Existing walls may be used. (e.g. a succah can be made where the garden fence and house wall meet, where only one additional wall would be required.)
3. The structure needn’t be perfect. It has to be able to withstand an average inland wind.
4. The walls must be at least ten handbreadths high; forty inches is generally considered sufficient. (But you may want to be able to stand up in the succah, so as long as you don’t exceed the upper limit of thirty feet, you will probably want to build higher.)
5. The floor area of the succah must be at least seven handbreadths by seven handbreadths, or two foot six by two foot six. But, as it is a mitzvah to entertain guests in the succah, you may prefer something a little bigger.
6. The roof is what makes the succah a succah. It must be specially made for the festival. Two rules govern the substances (sechach) to be used: They must grow from the ground (but be severed from the point of growth – e.g. cut branches). They must not be capable of becoming ritually impure. To be safe, use branches (but not ones with poisonous berries or leaves which immediately wilt) or matting bought as sechach.
7. The branches on the roof should be thick enough for the shaded area to be greater than the sunlit area on the succah floor. They should not be so thick that the stars cannot be seen through them.
8. The branches may be supported on bamboos, netting or thin trellis, but the branches must provide the majority of the covering.
9. It is a mitzvah to make the succah a place of beauty. To this end, flowers, fruits and vegetables, as well as drawings and coloured fabrics should be used to decorate the walls.
10. A succah may be built in a garden, a courtyard on a balcony, a ship, a cart or the back of a camel (though the latter is not advised.) In certain circumstances a conservatory roof may be lifted and replaced with sechach, but halachic advice will be required.