Why is the Gemara asking for the source for the Pesul of a Sukah less than
ten Tefachim high? We have already learned (4a) the reason why it is Pasul -
- because it is a "Dirah Seruchah" (an uninhabitable dwelling)! The Gemara
there said, in the name of Rava, that if there are branches ("Hutzin") of
the palm leaves of the Sechach hanging down under ten Tefachim, the Sukah is
Pasul because it is a "Dirah Seruchah!" The same principle should invalidate
any Sukah which is lower than ten Tefachim! (In fact, the BARTENURA on the
Mishnah writes that the reason why a Sukah lower than ten Tefachim is Pasul
is because it is a "Dirah Seruchah!") Why, then, did the Gemara here not
give that reason?
(a) We find that the ME'IRI infers from the RAMBAM (Hilchos Sukah 5:5) that
if there are branches hanging down under ten Tefachim, that Sukah is only
Pasul *l'Chatchilah*; b'Di'eved, though, it is a valid Sukah. Apparently,
the Pesul of "Dirah Seruchah" only invalidates a Sukah l'Chatchilah. If so,
perhaps the Gemara now is looking for a reason why a Sukah lower than ten
Tefachim will be Pasul even b'Di'eved (i.e. mid'Oraisa). (ARUCH LA'NER 4a)
(b) The other Rishonim, however, seem to learn that the Pesul of "Dirah
Seruchah" is indeed mid'Oraisa and will invalidate a Sukah even b'Di'eved.
However, we find that if the decorations of a Sukah hang down to below ten
Tefachim, the Sukah is nevertheless valid. TOSFOS (10b, DH Noyei) explains
that the fact that the decorations are hanging down so low does not make the
Sukah into a "Dirah Seruchah," because "they are made for decorating" the
Sukah. It seems that Tosfos means that only things which interfere with the
use of the Sukah make it a "Dirah Seruchah." The branches that hang down are
sharp and pointy and make it very difficult to use the Sukah (as the Me'iri
and Rabeinu Yehonasan m'Lunil explain). The decorations of a Sukah, though,
do not interfere with the use of the Sukah.
According to this explanation, if the entire ceiling of the Sukah reaches
only nine Tefachim, we might have thought that it is a valid Sukah because
it does not interfere with the normal use of the Sukah. Therefore, the
Gemara looks for another reason (other than "Dirah Seruchah") why such a
Sukah is Pasul.
(c) The PNEI YEHOSHUA points out that TOSFOS here (DH Asarah) explains that
the source the Gemara arrives at for invalidating a Sukah lower than ten
Tefachim is not only a source for Sukah, but is also a source that any wall
or partition that is ten Tefachim high is sufficiently high to separate the
area enclosed within it from the area outside of it and make it considered a
separate domain. This Halachah is particularly relevant regarding the laws
of the different domains on Shabbos.
Thus, explains the Pnei Yehoshua, it is true that the Gemara did not need
another source that a Sukah lower than ten Tefachim is Pasul, because the
Pesul of "Dirah Seruchah" suffices to teach us that. However, the Gemara
looks for another source because it wants a source that teaches that a ten-
Tefach high wall separates one domain from another. Since that question
happens to apply to Sukah as well, the Gemara phrases its question as
looking for a source for the Pesul of a low Sukah.