CAN THE SUKKAH BE TOO BIG ?
Jewish life is a calendar of objects: the shofar sounded on Rosh Hashanah, the sukkah constructed for Sukkot, the oil or candles lit on Chanukah evenings, the matzah eaten on Passover, and so on.
Objects need to be a certain size. A 3-inch chair is not a chair (you can't sit on it), nor is a 30-foot chair. That's why Halachah (the code of law that defines the Jewish way of life) is full of specifications -- the minimum quantity of matzah to be eaten on Passover, the maximum height of the Chanukah menorah. For a thing to be the thing it is, it cannot be too small, and it cannot be too big.
The sukkah is defined as a "temporary dwelling" which, for the duration of the seven-day festival of Sukkot, becomes the home of the Jew. The sukkah therefore has a minimum height -- under ten tefachim (about 40 inches) it's not a "dwelling" but a crawl space. It cannot be too high either -- if its ceiling is more than 20 amot (about 30 feet) above its floor, the sukkah is too massive to be considered a temporary dwelling. Torah law also specifies the sukkah's minimum length and width, its minimum number of walls, the maximum of space allowed for gaps in the walls, under the walls and above the walls. And on it goes -- certain portions of the Talmudic tractate of Sukkah and the corresponding chapters of the Code of Jewish Law read more like a builder's manual than a religious text.
All these specifications have one exception: there is no limit to a sukkah's length and breadth. You can build a sukkah the size of a city, or the size of a continent -- it'll still be a kosher sukkah.
This law flies in the face of everything we've said about objects and dwellings. But the Talmud derives it from a verse in the Torah, and the holy books explain its centrality to the theme of the festival of Sukkot which the sukkah serves.
The verse (Leviticus 23:42) reads as follows: "In sukkot (huts) you shall dwell for seven days; all citizens of Israel shall dwell insukkot." In this verse, the Hebrew word sukkot, which is the plural of sukkah, is spelled without the letter vav, meaning that the word can also be read as sukkat, "the sukkah [of]." Thus the verse is also saying (under the Torah's system of multi-meaning in the same word) that "all citizens of Israel shall dwell in the sukkah." Explains the Talmud: the Torah wishes to imply that "it is fitting that the entire people of Israel dwell in a single sukkah."
Each of the festivals imparts its particular quality to the Jewish life cycle: freedom on Passover, Torah wisdom on Shavuot, and so on. One of the qualities imparted by Sukkot is unity. Our interdependence and oneness as a people is expressed by the four kinds taken on Sukkot, and by the sukkah's embrace of every Jew -- every type of Jew, and every individual Jew -- within its walls.
Thus it is indeed most "fitting that the entire people of Israel dwell in a single sukkah." The big sukkah -- the sukkah large enough to house all Jews together -- cannot be a violation of the definition of "sukkah", since it is actually its most fitting expression.
This concept hits home to our Sukkah this year in the Young Israel of Brighton Beach. Baruch Hashem every year, more and more people come to our Sukkah. Many times there was only enough space for the men, and sometimes not enough space even for the men. So B”H this year we are expanding our Sukkah to accommodate our growing community, to all sit in one Sukkah as one family Yaasher Koach to all those involved.
May Hashem grant us and our families a good and sweet year. And may we be redeemed through Moshiach speedily in our days