Eruvin 33 and 34 שבות בין השמשות and Eruv Techumim

Eruvin 33 and 34 שבות בין השמשות and Eruv Techumim

Our Masechta is starting to move deep into the detailed laws of עירוב תחומין, another type of Eruv that we have not focused on much till now.

In addition to the forbidden melacha of transporting things from one domain to another, there are also limitations on where a person himself may walk on Shabbos.

Though there is no prohibition on walking from one domain to another, there is a prohibition of walking outside one’s תחום של שבת, one’s shabbos domain.

This domain is measured 2000 amos (around or a little less than a km) from the place where one is or intends to base oneself for shabbos, as at nightfall before shabbos.

By default, it is measured from one’s own house, or if in a halachically defined city or enclosed private property, from the halachik boundaries of that city or private domain.

There is a debate on the next daf (Eruvin 35) as to whether the law of תחומין is biblical or rabbinical, but the 2000 Amah domain is very stringent, to the point that if someone leaves this area on shabbos, he might have to stay put within his own 4 amos for the rest of the shabbos!

Clearly, this has a major impact on people who wish to walk from one village to another on shabbos, sometimes even from one suburb to another, if the suburbs have significant open space between them (about 139 amos, which is not very much.)

In suburban neighborhoods with large open yards, this could even affect walking from one house to another, as each house might make up its own תחום!

This also applies to going for nature walks or hikes outside fenced resorts, or even within unfenced resorts.

To address this problem, Chazal allowed one who intends in advance to travel more than 2000 amos but less than 4000 amos from his shabbos base, to make an ערוב תחומין before shabbos.

By placing some food just under 2000 amos away from his base and intending to make that place his symbolic shabbos base, he would be permitted to go anywhere with a 2000 amah radius of where he put his food, rather than from his house.

The disadvantage of doing this, is that his house will now be on or at least closer to the boundaries of his new shabbos domain in the other direction, limiting his walking over the same shabbos in that direction- as such, his shabbos movements need to be planned very carefully.

One of the requirements for the food used for the Eruv is that the food has to be accessible from the place that one makes one’s new symbolic shabbos base.

The Mishna on 32b tells us that If one places one’s Eruv food on top of a tree, this might thus present a problem.

If one’s intended shabbos base is at the bottom of the tree, but the Eruv is more than 10 handbreadths high, and more than 4 handbreadths wide, the part of the tree above 10 handbreadths might form its own private domain.

This means that carrying his Eruv from the top to the bottom, assuming the tree is in a public domain, would be forbidden, and the Eruv would thus be invalid.

The mishna rules that if the Eruv is below 10 handbreadths, the Eruv is valid.

This seems to be despite the fact that an area between 3 and 10 handbreadths above a public domain might be considered a כרמלית (neither a private or public domain) and carrying the Eruv from there to one’s shabbos base at the bottom would thus be rabbinically forbidden.

In addition, there is a rabbinical prohibition against making use of a tree on shabbos, which extends to removing something from it.

As such, regardless of where it has been placed, it should be forbidden to remove it, and the Eruv should be invalid.

The Gemara solves the later problem (and according to Rashi, by implication the former too) by explaining that the validity of the Eruv is based on whether it may be carried to one’s shabbos base during the period of בית השמשות on shabbos eve.

Although its precise time and definition is also subject to much debate, this is generally viewed as the time between שקיעה (sunset) and צאת הכוכבים (the time the stars come out), and is also referred to as ספק חשכה ספק אינה חשיכה , a time when there is a doubt whether it is considered night yet or not.

This means that during this time, it is a doubt whether it is shabbos yet or not.

When it comes to biblical law, it goes without saying that one has to treat this time as if it is shabbos, due to the rule of ספק דאורייתא לחומרא .

Yet when it comes to rabbinical law, it is possible that Chazal followed the general rule of ספק דרבנן לקולא and did not treat that time as shabbos, thus making performing rabbinically prohibited activities (שבותים) permitted during that time.

It is also possible that seeing as Chazal were aware of the ambiguous nature of this period, but did not want to confuse us whether it is shabbos or not, they intentionally applied rabbinical prohibitions during this time as well, making it no longer a question of doubt.

The Gemara explains further that the author of our Mishna follows the view of Rebbe, who holds that Chazal did not impose their own rabbinical shabbos restrictions during this twilight period.

As such, at the crucial time of בין השמשות that determines the validity of the Eruv, the biblical prohibitions of removing something from a tree (or transferring it from a כרמלית to a רשות הרבים) does not apply, and the Eruv is valid!

On 33a, the Gemara brings an explicit Beraisa where Rebbe and the רבנן argue about an Eruv placed at a height of between 3 and 10 tefachim on a tree.

Rebbe is of the view that even though this area is a כרמלית and the Eruv may thus not be moved to the public domain at the base of the tree on shabbos itself, seeing as this rabbinical prohibition did not apply during בין השמשות, the Eruv is valid for the entire shabbos.

The Rabbis disagree, arguing that any Eruv that cannot be moved to one’s shabbos domain, is invalid- the Gemara seems to understand that while they agree that בין השמשות is the definitive time, they hold that these rabbinical prohibitions apply during בין השמשות as well.

This crucial debate is also found on 34b, regarding the same Mishna’s permission to place the eruv in a pit deeper than 10 tefachim, even though it too forms its own private domain.

The Gemara understands that this part of the mishna is referring to a case where one’s chosen shabbos base above the pit is a כרמלית , and that this once again reflects the lenient view of Rebbe that rabbinical restrictions of Shabbos do not apply בין השמשות.

It follows from all the above that according to Rebbe, though biblical prohibitions of shabbos apply from sunset on Erev shabbos, activities that are only forbidden rabbinically remain permitted until dark, which could be extremely useful for those well versed in shabbos laws (and very dangerous for those who are not.)

According to those Rabbis who disagree with him, both biblical and rabbinical prohibitions come into force the moment the sun sets on Friday. (I have assumed for purposes of this post that what we refer to today as sunset is the same as the talmudic concept of שקיעה, something which is in fact the subject of an entirely different discussion.

Given the rule that הלכה כרבי מחבריו, (the law usually follows Rebbe against his colleagues,) it seems likely that his lenient ruling here might actually be authoritative.

However, we need to examine closely at least one other major source on this subject.

This is an explicit Mishna (Shabbos 34a ) which states that during ספק חשכה ספק אינה חשיכה , the twilight period, certain actions forbidden on shabbos are forbidden, but others are permitted.

At first glance, this might seem to support the lenient view of Rebbe.

However, when examining the list, one finds some things that are only rabbinically forbidden on shabbos which one may also not do during twilight!

The list of forbidden things:

  1. separating tithes from ודאי (produce that has definitely or probably not been tithed)
  2. Immersing new vessels (טבילת כלים)
  3. Lighting candles

Whereas lighting candles is clearly a biblical prohibition, separating tithes and immersing vessels seem to be rabbinical prohibitions, yet they are still forbidden during twilight!

The list of permitted things:

  1. Separated tithes from דמאי (produce bought from an ignorant person who has probably but not definitely already separated tithes.)
  2. Making an Eruv
  3. Insulating hot food

The above 3 are all rabbinical requirements.

This Mishna seems to take a view between that of Rebbe and the Rabbis and permit certain rabbinically forbidden actions during twilight but forbid others.

This needs serious clarification, and there seem to be two main approaches to reconciling these Mishnayos amongst the commentators, but that is it for our daf!

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Eruvin 32 Halachic compromises for the greater good

Eruvin 32 Halachic compromises for the greater good

One of the greatest challenges facing Rabbis, educators, and religious outreach groups in our times is treading the line between the tolerant and open approach needed to bring and keep people close to Torah, and avoiding or limiting halachik compromises at the same time.

For example, many traditional shuls are based on the idea that the service inside is run on Orthodox lines but many people drive to shul on shabbos- Is a Rabbi permitted or supposed to encourage people to come to shul knowing full well that they will drive?

One of the greatest tools in the “kiruv” toolkit is sharing the incredible shabbos meal experience with those less observant, hereby drawing them closer themselves (in addition to the mitzva of הכנסת אורחים  [hospitality] , אהבת שלום בין אדם לחבירו , and so much more.)

Is it right to invite non-observant guests for shabbos meals for the above reasons, even if one knows that they will drive?

Sometimes, the Rabbi, educator, or kiruv worker is faced himself with the “need” to make halachik compromises of his own for the greater spiritual good of others- this is very common when it comes to being present in places where the standards of modesty are not in keeping with those of a place where he is normally permitted or encouraged to be present, or in interfaith or multi-denominational environments.

In come congregations, compromises might need to be made regarding the height or even presence of a partition between men and women, in order to encourage people to come.

Often, spiritual duties might require one to move one’s family to a small community with limited religious infrastructure, in order to bring spiritual life to that community.

There are many who take the approach that one’s own spirituality and halachik obligations always come first, and that compromising on those for the sake of someone else’s spirituality is not acceptable.

They might also take a stringent approach regarding encouraging others to do something in the long-term interests of their spiritual development, if it involves their desecrating shabbos or other commandments in order to do so, even if they are not shabbos observant in any case.

Others take a more “long-term” approach, stretching or even violating certain laws for the greater good of their own or other’s long-term spiritual survival, or to prevent them or others from an even worse prohibition.

Neither approach is straight-forward, and the correct Torah approach to this can probably be found in a spectrum between these two extremes, depending very much on the circumstances, and of course, how certain primary sources are to be interpreted- A great understanding of the relevant sources, and a lot of יראת שמים  (fear of heaven) are required to be able to make such decisions.

A discussion on our daf forms one of the most important Talmudic sources on the subject.

The case discussed is where a חבר (learned person) tells an עם הארץ   (ignorant person ) to fill up a basket of produce for himself from his farm.

The question is whether it may be assumed that the person first separated the required tithes, thus making it unnecessary to separate them before eating, or not.

Rebbe and his father, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, disagree on this.

Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel is of the view that we should not assume that tithes have been separated.

That is because there is a rabbinical decree against separating tithes in one place for produce in another, and we should thus not suspect the חבר  of having done so.

Rebbe counters that seeing as the עם הארץ  eating untithed produce is a far more stringent, biblical prohibition, we should assume that the חבר  compromised on the rabbinical requirement and separated tithes from a  distance after he gave permission to the עם הארץ  to collect the produce.

The Gemara seems to understand that according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, it is forbidden to transgress a less severe prohibition in order to prevent someone else from transgressing a more serious prohibition.

In contrast, Rebbe seems to hold that it is permitted to transgress a less severe prohibition in order to prevent someone else from transgressing a more serious one.

Rebbe was so confident in his ruling, that he said that his view seemed more logical than his father’s. Although it seems obvious that he felt that way (otherwise he would not have disagreed with him,) it is possible that Rebbe was making this statement using his authority as sealer of the Mishna, indicating that his approach is the final word.

To what extent this is a general rule, as opposed to a more limited concession, requires serious analysis.

As Tosfos points out, it is clear that this cannot be the case under all circumstances.

We know this from a famous case (Shabbos 4a) where the Gemara discussed someone who unknowingly placed unbaked bread in the oven on shabbos.

One suggestion briefly entertained there was that someone else could be permitted to remove it before it becomes baked to the point that the first person will have desecrated shabbos.

It seems  that we were not dealing with loaves of bread baked in baking pans, but a pita-style bread that was placed directly on the oven floor or rack.

As a result, removing the bread from the oven (רדית הפת) was considered a skilled activity rabbinically forbidden on shabbos.

The Gemara unequivocally rejected that suggestion, taking for granted that אין אומרים לאדם חטא כדי שיזכה חברו – we do not tell someone to sin in order that his friend should get merit.

In both cases, we are discussing transgressing a rabbinical prohibition in order to save someone else from transgressing a biblical one, yet in our case, Rebbe disagrees with his father and permits it, while in the case in Shabbos, there is no dissent and it is clearly forbidden.

In truth, there are many other places where halachik compromises seem to be permitted for greater objectives,  among them:

1.       Even though freeing a Canaanite slave was forbidden, it was permitted  (or more narrowly interpreted) under certain circumstances to allow him to fulfill the great mitzva of פרו ורבו (Gittin 41b)  or to allow him to make a minyan (Brachos 47b.)

2.       Greeting one’s neighbor with Hashem’s name was permitted (Brachos 54a) based on the verse עת לעשות לה’ הפרו תורותיך   (it is a time to act for Hashem, go against his Torah (Tehillim 119/126).)  The value of making Hashem’s name a vessel of peace seems to have overridden the concern of saying his name in vain or alternatively, redefined it as not being in vain.

3.       The sons of Shaul was put to death for their role in the starvation of the Givonim, in order to avoid a Chillul Hashem( Yevamos 79a- (“מוטב שיעקר אות אחת מן התורה ואל יתחלל שם שמים בפרהסיא”

4.       One of the sources (albeit rejected as the primary source) for permitting the desecration of Shabbos to save a life  (Yoma 85b)  is in order to allow him to keep many more shabbosim in the future (חלל עליו שבת אחת כדי שישמור שבתות הרבה ) – it is possible that this applies not only to preventing physical danger to life, but also preventing  a life-time of non-observance of shabbos, a discussion that comes up in various halachik discussions on the subject.

In our two cases, the Baalei Tosfos offer two ways of reconciliation:

1.       The fundamental difference between the two cases is that in our case, the חבר  is the one who initially put the other person in danger of sinning- as such, he is permitted to transgress a lesser prohibition in order to fix up what he did.  According to this approach, there is no general permission to transgress a lighter prohibition to save someone else from a more serious one, except in a case where one is guilty of causing him to perform that more severe prohibition.

2.       Based on various other sugyas, Tosfos takes issue with the former explanation, and takes a different approach. Here, the general rule is that one is permitted to transgress a lighter prohibition to prevent someone else transgressing a more serious one, except in a case where that person was negligent in the first place, like in the case where he put something into the oven at a time that even he knew was very close to shabbos.

These two approaches obviously have huge ramifications for our discussion in general, and whichever approach is accepted, it will be important to define clear criteria for what is considered a light or severe transgression. This could be based on various factors, among them

1.       Whether it is biblical or rabbinical

2.       The severity of the punishment

3.       Whether it harms someone else or not

4.       How many people are affected

5.       Whether each prohibition is relatively short- term or long-term

6.       How many prohibitions are entailed

There is so much more to discuss, but hopefully this serves a reasonable introduction to what is a very complex and important issue.

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Eruvin 30-31 The Kohain in the plastic bag and טומאה on a plane

Much attention was attracted a number of years ago by a photo of a Chareidi man sitting on a plane with a plastic bag wrapped around him.

The man was a kohain and was attempting to avoid the prohibition against Kohanim becoming ritually impure due to contact with a dead body.

The body, however, was not on the plane, a situation which is worthy of its own discussion.

In this case, the concern was that the plotted airpath of the plane passed over a Jewish cemetery close to Ben-Gurion Airport, something which reportedly happens from time to time.

The impurity of a Jewish grave rises above the grave, to infinite heights, and a kohain is thus technically forbidden to “fly” over it, unless he is inside something that serves as a חציצה (barrier) between him and the rising טומאה.

Whereas his action seems extreme and somehow instinctively ridiculous, particularly given the fact that most pious and learned people do not seem to practise such stringency, some discussion is indeed in place.

There are a few reasons why this might not be a valid concern, among them:

  1. Flight paths are never cast in stone and can and do change at anytime (making it a likely case of דבר שאין מתכוין) that is not פסיק רישיה)
  2. In case of doubt regarding טומאה ברשות הרבים (impurity in a public place,) we are lenient. Even though the plane itself is a רשות היחיד, the doubt is based regarding the ground below, which is a רשות הרבים.
  3. The plane itself, being its own “tent” or enclosure could possibly serve as a very effective barrier between the kohain and the rising impurity

The first 2 points are far from simple, but we will focus today on the third:

In order for this point to have any standing, one would first need to show that a plane fits the definition of an ohel (“tent” or enclosure) that acts as a barrier against rising impurity- for example, if the plane itself is made of metal and susceptible to impurity, it might not function as a barrier against it.

Without going into this question (but see Rashi 30b אהל זרוק לאו שמיה אהל ,)it is still far from straightforward, and is tied to the sugya at the bottom of 30b, going onto 31a.

We have established that although the food used for the Eruv needs to be edible and permitted to someone, it does not have to be permitted to the person making or using the Eruv.

For example, a Nazir may rely on an Eruv made with wine, even though he is not allowed to drink it, and a non-kohain may rely on an Eruv made with תרומה, even though he is not permitted to eat it himself.

Further than that, Rabbi Yehuda holds that the Eruv of a kohain may even be placed in a cemetery, somewhere that he is not allowed to go to avoid becoming impure.

The Gemara brings a Beraita that explains that this is because he is able to go there inside a container style cart (see text and Rashi for precise names and definition), which serves as a חציצה (barrier) between him and the graves.

It then links this dispute to a dispute regarding an אוהל זרוק ( a moving “tent” or enclosure.)

Unlike the Tana Kama who holds like Rebbe that such an enclosure does not protect one from impurity outside, Rabbi Yehuda holds like Rabbi Yosi bar Yehuda who is of the view that it does.

This debate seems to relate directly to our case of the plane flying above the cemetery.

The plane seems to be comparable to the enclosed wagon, seeing as it moves, and could thus be a typical case of an אהל זרוק.

That would make our case subject to the dispute between Rabbi Yehuda who is lenient, and the Tana Kama who is stringent.

Should we follow the usual rule of following the majority opinion, as well as the rule that the rulings of Rebbe are accepted over those of his colleagues, things would then not look so good.

The Rishonim also have different views regarding the precise scope of this debate.

Rashi defines a אהל זרוק as an אהל המטלטל , a tent that is moved/movable.

It is still unclear whether this is referring to a “tent” (read:container) that CAN move/be moved, or one that IS actually moving.

The simple flow of our sugya seems to imply that Rabbi Yehuda considers the אהל זרוק to be a valid barrier to the טומאה even while it is moving, otherwise the kohain would not be able to ride through the cemetery inside it. This is how the Rashba understands Rashi here as well, as well as the sugya itself.

However, he also quotes Rabbeinu Chananel who opines that the debate is only regarding a movable “tent” that is currently stationary, but that even Rabbi Yehuda admits that while it is actually moving, it is ineffective as a barrier.

The Rashba considers this later view to be problematic and seems to tend towards the simple meaning in our sugya, but the Ritva seems to adopt it as normative.

Given the fact that the plane is actually moving, some Rishonim would thus invalidate it as a barrier even according to the view that a movable “tent” is a valid barrier.

As such, relying on the plane itself as a barrier is unlikely to be sufficient, and one or more of the other reasons for leniency mentioned earlier in this post might need to be applied. This seems even more clear given that the Rosh explicitly rules like Rebbe due to the rule quoted above.

If all these reasons to be lenient and any others are found wanting, the kohain in the plastic bag have been onto something after all.

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Eruvin 26-27    Talmudic logic, rules, and אין לומדין מן הכללות

One of the axioms drilled into every Ben-Torah from a young age is that every word in the Torah is precise- nothing is superfluous.

This same principle is applied to the words of Chazal, particularly to the words of the Mishna, which forms the basis of the תורה שבעל פה.

One of the main functions of the Gemara is to highlight the precision of the Mishnayos and make sure that apparent contradictions between mishnayos are either resolved. or attributed to different Tannaim (see for example Rashi/Bava Metzia 33a), but simply saying that the Mishna was not accurate is not usually an option.

Logical thought and deduction are one of the main methods used to interpret both the written and oral Torah, to the point that Talmud study is often thought to be one of the greatest examples of the study and application of logic.

Yet on our daf, we have a principle which seems to drive a wedge into all of this!

The opening Mishna of the new perek introduces us to the laws of עירוב חצירות , the second essential stage of making an Eruv, once valid partitions are in place.

Even though the partitions have allowed the houses and shared courtyard (or the courtyards and shared alley in the case of שתופי מבואות ) to be considered a רשות היחיד  on a Torah level, Chazal forbade transferring things from one person’s house to another’s, or to the shared courtyard or vice versa, without a symbolic action that shows that they all consider the entire area to be “like” one domain shared by everyone.

The symbolic action required is that the members of each house make available some  food which is placed in one of the houses, hence defining the entire area as “shared” in a certain way.

People attribute great importance to the place where their food is, and putting shared food in one of the houses thus has the effect of making this “shared area” into a shared place of dwelling, symbolic of the entire courtyard’s  quasi-shared nature.

Our Mishna tells us that anything can be used for this Eruv, except for water and salt.

Rashi explains that this is  because water and salt are not foods that contain sustenance (nourishment) and  thus do not contribute the required significance to the shared place.

Our natural thought would be that as usual, the Mishna’s words are very precise, and if the Mishna says that one can using anything for an Eruv other than water or salt, this must indeed be the case, and all foodstuffs other than water and salt are acceptable (The fact that ערוב חצירות  has its own rules and might require bread specifically leads many Rishonim to question Rashi’s view that the Mishna is talking about this kind of Eruv, but this is a different discussion.)

What, however, would be the case with other foodstuffs that seem to share the same limitations of water and salt?

Do we say that the Mishna’s list of exceptions is exhaustive, and that anything else is permitted, despite their apparent conceptual similarity, or do we say that the Mishna is simply giving us examples of what is to be excluded from the rule, but that other things to which the same logical arguments seems to apply might also be included?

What, for example, would be the case with certain other flavorings that have no nutritional value but are also used to enhance the flavor of other food?

Our Gemara opens with a bombshell dropped by Rabbi Yochanan: אין לומדין מן הכללות ואפילו במקום שנאמר בהם חוץ- We do not learn from “rules” even where a list of exceptions is given.

Rabbi Yochanan seems to be making the incredible claim that when Chazal state a rule without mentioning any exceptions, there could still be exceptions to that rule.

Not only that, even when Chazal list some exceptions, that list is still not necessarily exhaustive!

As such, it is possible that there are other things that may not used for an Eruv, and that water and salt were just examples.

The Rambam (Pirush haMishnayos on our mishna) states explicitly that the word “בכל”  is to be viewed as a גוזמא  (exaggeration!)  [even if it was interpreted more literally, it could clearly not mean absolutely everything, but only everything that in some way has the properties of food- a cellphone would not do the trick!]

Besides for seeming to fly in the face of our childhood education regarding the precision of every word in the Torah and Chazal, this bizarre sounding statement casts questions on the very need for such rules- after all, if rules are meant to be broken, what is the point of having them?

Our Gemara points out that this statement of Rabbi Yochanan was not made initially in reference to our Mishna, but was first said  (Kiddushin 34b) in relation to another Mishna (Kiddushin 29a), which states inter alia  that woman are exempt from all positive commandments caused by time, and obligated in all positive commandments not caused by time.

The Gemara there questions this rule, based on the fact that we know of various time-caused mitzvos, such as matza, and הקהל (the gathering at the end of the shemita year,) that woman are obligated to keep, and various mitzvos not caused by time, such as learning Torah and having children, which are not obligatory for them.

In that context, Rabbi Yochanan states his principle that one does not rely entirely on rules, and that there could be exceptions not mentioned by the Mishna.

He then uses our Mishna as a proof for the second part of his statement, that this applies even where Chazal have listed specific exceptions, which could make us think that their list of exceptions is exhaustive.

Having seen examples of this principle’s application both where no exceptions were listed by Chazal and where some exceptions are listed, let us now try and examine whether  this principle does indeed contradict those basic axioms of every word in the Torah and Chazal being measured, as well as what the role of these kind of rules are, if they cannot be relied on and we still need to consider that there might be other exceptions.

Perhaps we can answer this question buy reconsidering what the role of the rules and exceptions that Chazal choose to reveal to us indeed is.

Should their role be to spoon-feed us with precise rules and lists that are to be blindly followed without examining possibly contradictory texts or logical principles, then indeed, it is hard to explain what purpose remains once Rabbi Yochanan’s principle has effectively rendered this role null and void.

However, if the purpose of Chazal’s categorizations is to create logical groupings which we are then expected to apply to other conceptually similar cases, and also test against other authoritative texts and traditions, then the lists of exceptions has indeed performed its task well- Chazal were indeed precise with their words, the precision just does not lie in the exhaustive nature of their lists but rather in the message they are giving us from their precise choose of rules and exceptions.

The scope of Rabbi Yochanan’s principle can and must be researched further, and various Rishonim do indeed place certain limitations on it.

 It does seem to make clear that one of the major methodologies required for the study of תורה שבעל פה at least, is applying one’s own intellect and Torah database to examining the scope of all or many of the principles that Chazal teach us, and not just applying them robotically- Torah logic has its own G-d given system, based on  intelligent application by Torah scholars (and only Torah scholars) and not just the kind of Boolean logic used to program computers!

Much more to discuss on this, and other examples to bring and analyze, but that is it for today.

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Eruvin 24-25    The infamous קרפף, and Eruvin in resorts

We have seen that even though on a biblical level, an area surrounded by halachically acceptable partitions is considered a רשות היחיד , and one is  liable for transferring an object from it to a רשות הרבים, various concerns made Chazal impose other criteria in order to be able to carry with such an area.

In an area greater than a בית סאתיים , the area of the courtyard of the mishkan, which was 5000 square amos, inferior partitions made of only vertical or horizontal components, are not always sufficient.

In order to carry from one adjoining רשות היחיד  to another, an עירוב חצירות  is required, a requirement that forms the main subject of the next chapter.

We also see on our daf that an area that has not been מוקף לדירה (enclosed for the sake of habitation) might also not be considered a רשות היחיד .

Examples of this are enclosures used for growing vegetables. As the purpose of the enclosure is to protect the vegetables and not to mark an area for human habitation, the area has not been מוקף לדירה  and it is not treated with the leniencies of a רשות היחיד .

In addition, if such an area is contained within an area that has been enclosed for habitation and not fenced off, it can also nullify the partitions making it forbidden to carry within the entire area.

This restriction can have a major impact on large holiday resorts, particularly those in nature reserves, whose fences enclose a large area that usually includes many such areas that are not only not  enclosed for habitation but are also not even fit for habitation- these could  include natural bush and/or jungle, large ponds or lakes, and even areas inhabited by wild animals.

Not every such גינה  or קרפף  is subject to this stringency, however.

The Mishna on daf 23a told us that so long as a קרפף is less than our now famous בית סאתיים  measurement (5000 square amos,) one is permitted to carry within it.

Although there is some debate in the Mishna as to what criteria are needed even for such an area to be permitted, the Amoraim on daf 23b rule leniently like Rabbi Akiva that this permission is not dependant on any conditions.

On our daf 24a, Rav Nachman teaches us that a קרפף larger than this which was originally not closed for purposes of habitation may be validated for such purposes with a relatively simple fix:

One makes a gap in the boundaries of more than 10 טפחים, thus invalidating them, and recloses it with the correct purpose in mind.

While this could be a solution in resorts that agree to such an act, it might only work if there are no areas larger than a בית סאתיים  that remain physically unfit for habitation- this requires further discussion but could be a lingering constraint in the way of using the properties boundary fences as valid Eruv partitions.

Another issue commonly encountered is the issue of bodies of water on the properties, such as large ponds or lakes, larger than a בית סאתיים  which are unfit for human habitation, and might even contain crocodiles, hippos, or other dangerous animals.

Our Gemara makes it clear that although a body of fresh water which is fit for drinking  does not invalidate an area that has been enclosed for habitation (as Rashi points out, there is no greater habitation-related need than water!), this does not apply if the water is not fit for its normal use, which Rashi identifies as drinking.

As such bodies of water most often do not contain water that is fit for drinking, even in the absence of dangerous animals that make it their home, they might be problematic, depending on what the halachik definition of “fit for drinking” is and how the particular body of water fits that definition.

Another interesting question is whether there are any solutions for a  קרפף  that is slightly over the 5000 square amos threshhold.

On Daf 25a, the Gemara discusses whether one can reduce its area by partitioning part of it with trees and says that this is not sufficient .

It does allow one to build a platform large and high enough to be its own רשות היחיד  inside that area, thus taking it below the threshold.

Lots more to say and discuss about קרפפים  but it almost Shabbos, so Shabbat Shalom for now!

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Reverse racism on steroids

In a bizarre and undescribably ridiculous case, a professor who has written as a black woman against colonialism admits that she is a white jewish woman, as if that is such a crime ( obviously lying is .)

The basis of liberal democracy and indeed of Torah Judaism is that skin color and race simply do not define a person. Whiteness is NOT a crime any more than blackness is.

Blackness does not matter anymore than whiteness.

The slippery slope from non racialism to reverse racism has become steeper than ever.

Its time for people to grow up and relate to each other simply as people, all created in the image of G-d.

People need to be judged on merit alone.

As Rabbi Meir famously said “a non-Jew who busies himself with Torah ( meaning the laws that apply to him) is like a high priest!” ( Sanhedrin 59a)

From Arutz Sheva 10:35
Professor who claimed for years to be black admits: ‘I’m white’
Friday, September 04, 2020
A professor at George Washington University has admitted that she falsely claimed to be black for years.

Jessica Krug, who has taught history since 2012 and specialized in African-American history, imperialism, and colonialism, made her confession in a blog post, The Telegraph reports.

“To an escalating degree over my adult life. I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness,” she wrote. She also called herself a “coward.”

Eruvin 22-23 The sea as an Eruv revisited, Islands, and הוקף לדירה

In an earlier post, we discussed the debate around whether the sea may be used to close off a מבוי on one side.

On the one hand, the sea is deeper than the minimum 10 טפחים required, and at least at some point, the gradient is also sufficient, and we know from elsewhere (Shabbos 100a) that a pit filled with water is viewed as if it is empty as far as its depth is concerned.

On the other hand, there is a concern that the sea (or river) banks might accumulate שירטון (rocks and sand) to the point that the required gradient is on longer there, exposing an unfenced area between the sea and the מבוי.

We also saw that there is a dispute amongst the Rishonim as to whether we take this concern into account or not.

Today, we discuss a situation where an area is enclosed by the sea on all sides.

In such a case, there might be no concern of שירטון, as the entire area, including any banks or beaches that build up, are enclosed by the sea and thus could make up one large רשות היחיד (private domain.)

On the other hand, there might be additional reason for stringency seeing as the sea is not only being used for an area that is already enclosed by regular partitions on 2 or 3 sides, and thus probably already a רשות היחיד on a biblical level, but in place of partitions on all sides altogether!

The Gemara brings the radical ruling of Rabbi Yochanan that Eretz Yisrael is considered one large רשות היחיד at least on a biblical level (his precise words can better be paraphrased that one does not become liable to biblical punishment for carrying within it)

The Gemara first suggests that this might be because of the mountains and trenches that surround it, but notes that if this was sufficient, one could argue that Bavel (Mesopotamia) should also be one big רשות החיחד, seeing as it is enclosed by the 2 great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris.

The Gemara then goes further and argues that if a huge area surrounded by partitions is automatically considered one large רשות היחיד (as implied on Shabbos …) , one can argue that continents are all surrounded by the ocean, making them one large רשות היחיד as well, effectively rendering the biblical melacha of הוצאה null and void!

The truth is that the simple interpretation of Rabbi Yochanan’s statement seems absurd on its own, given that there are so many sources that imply that the melacha of הוצאה certainly applies on a biblical level in Eretz Yisrael, including Rabbi Yochanan’s own view that Yerushalayim would be a רשות הרבים if not for its doors being locked at night.

It is likely that the Gemara simply chose to ask further difficulties to highlight the further absurdity of this interpretation, rather than do so at this earlier stage (yet see Tosfos who deals with this issue.)

The Gemara thus concludes that Rabbi Yochanan is not referring to the whole of Eretz Yisrael, but only to the mountain passes in it.

It follows that there must be some limit regarding either the size or the nature of the area enclosed by partitions in order for it to be considered a רשות היחיד, and that neither Eretz Yisrael nor Bavel falls within whatever this limit is.

It is interesting that the Gemara did not mention the example of an island at all, which one could also have argued should be a רשות היחיד.

It could be that unlike a huge continent, the Gemara does not see this as such an absurd proposal, in which case we would need to find a cut-off point which defines the halachik parameters as to what is considered an island.

It is also possible, that the Gemara simply “went for the throat” as suggested above, choosing more extreme examples to highlight the absurdity of the idea, but an island would also clearly not qualify as a רשות היחיד .

In terms of the maximum size of a רשות הרבים, we have already seen that even a huge area can be closed off by complete partitions (as opposed to inferior partitions which have limitations at least on a rabbinical level) so basing the limit on size is far from straightforward.

Similarly, when it comes to purpose, we see here on daf 23b that large קרפפים are rabbinically disqualified from being considered a רשות היחיד, seeing as they were not closed off for the purpose of “living in,” but on a biblical level, this does not appear to be an issue either, and Rabbi Yochanan rules (Eruvin 67b) that one who throws from a רשות הרבים into such a קרפף is biblically liable- this forms the basis for the related sugya on our dapim (Eruvin 23b) as well.

The Rashba raises this issue and leaves it unresolved.

On the other hand, the Tosfos on our daf suggests that there is a difference between a partition made by people, which at least on a biblical level can enclose an area of any size, and a natural barrier, such as mountains or the sea, which is more limited even on a biblical level. The Meiri, though a little cryptic, seems to say a similar thing, differentiating between walls and “mountains and seas”

They too however, do not appear to define precisely what this limitation is- perhaps the main criteria would be whether the enclosed area is all ראוי לדירה (fit for human habitation,) which might exclude any islands which contain uninhabitable jungle, bush, desert or the like, but this needs further study.

The Ritva takes an entirely different approach, and quoting his Rebbe (probably Ramban,) claims that for any area to be considered a רשות הרבים even on a biblical level, one needs to רואה עצמו בתוך המחיצות (literally – see oneself inside the partitions.)

This phrase requires understanding, but the simple explanation seems to be that so long as one is able to see that he is inside a partitioned off area, (possibly even from a high vantage point, which could be possible even on very large properties) it is considered a רשות היחיד – if not, then it remains a רשות הרבים. (In truth, the Ritva points to his explanation of the sugya in sukkah 4b in the name of the Ramban which at face value does not appear to me to fit with this understanding, nor with the flow of the sugya here, but that’s for a more detailed study.)

This leaves open the possibility that according to this view, smaller islands would indeed be a רשות היחיד, at least on a biblical level, but means that larger properties without any line of site to the boundaries might not qualify, even if surrounded by man-made partitions!

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Eruvin 20-21    The פסי ביראות  , public domain, and more on rabbinical laws

One of the main themes of this chapter is the special dispensation that Chazal gave to allow travelers to Yerushalayim for the chagim to draw water from wells for their animals.

The sides of these water-pits or wells were usually too steep for livestock to walk down to and drink, in contrast to people who were nimble enough to do so.

Seeing as the pit or well was surrounded by walls and more than 10 אמות  wide, it was defined as a private domain, and carrying the water from it to the public domain outside was thus forbidden.

To include an area around the well large enough for the animal to stand inside and drink in this private domain, Chazal made do with 4 double posts on each corner.

Each post was 6 handbreadths wide in each of its 2 perpendicular directions, forming a half square or widened L shape.

Although usually a private domain needs to be enclosed by proper partitions, with more closed space than open space, or at least a צורת הפתח, in the case of the special public mitzva of aliya laregel (going up to Yerushalayim for the festivals,) Chazal were lenient.

It seems clear from Daf 20a that this leniency is based on the fact that this method is already an acceptable form of enclosure  on a biblical level, otherwise Chazal would not be able to create such a method on their own to change the status of a רשות הרבים דאורייתא. This goes so far as to make someone who throws someone from a רשות הרבים into this enclosure liable to the biblical penalties prescribed for desecrating the Shabbos.

The implication of this is that the area around the wells is considered a fully-fledged public domain.

We have mentioned a few times already the view of Rashi (Eruvin 6a) that to be considered a public domain, a city needs to have at least 600000 people in it.

It is hard to imagine that the rural villages or city-outskirts where these wells were situated met this definition, which raises considerable difficulty with Rashi’s view.

It is possible that we are referring to the wells outside large population centers which were extremely crowded and busy, but even then, it seems a little far-fetched to imagine 600000 people frequenting them- Even during the busy period of aliya laregel, the population was unlikely to be concentrated in one such location at any time- further analysis is thus needed.

In the earlier dapim of the Masechta, we spent time  examining  the differences between biblical and rabbinical laws, and where they are found in the hierarchy.

We saw that on the one hand, we are usually stricter with biblical mitzvos, something we see all over through various halachik principles, but on the other hand, sometimes Chazal were more stringent with rabbinical laws in order to strengthen their authority.

On daf 21b, we see the incredible drasha of Rava, based on Koheles, that one should be even more careful with דברי סופרים  ( “the words of the scribes”- a term usually used for laws made after the time of Moshe, but itself requiring its own discussion) than with the words of the Torah.

This is because there is a range of positive and negative commandments in Torah, with a range of punishments, but when it comes to דברי סופרים , they are all treated equally severely to the point that העובר על דברי סופרים חייב מיתה  – one who goes against the words of the sofrim is liable to death.

Given that the maximum punishment carried out in court for one who transgresses rabbinical laws was generally מכת מרדות  (lashes for rebellion,) lower on the hierarchy of punishments than the 39 lashes given for biblical prohibitions under the correct strict conditions, this statement seems rather exaggerated, to put it mildly.

We see a similar phrase elsewhere, regarding  one who intentionally puts off saying the evening shema till after midnight, and the attack on Rabbi Tarfon by robbers while sitting to say shema was attributed to his failure to follow the authoritative ruling of Beis Hillel who hold that this is not necessary. )See also the Mishna  Sanhedrin 88b regarding Zakein Mamrei, and the Mishna in A.Z. 29b)

Furthermore, on our daf, we are told the incredible story of Rabbi Akiva who used this principle to justify his risking dehydration in captivity to use the little water he had for the rabbinical mitzva of נטילת ידים!

This extreme example might be the key to how to understand this entire concept- after all, we all know that one is only liable to given up one’s life for 3 of the worst biblical transgressions. We also know that one is often permitted to transgress rabbinical prohibitions even for curative purposes where danger to life is not involved.

This makes it virtually undisputable that this is not a normative halachik concept, but rather an idea, which might occasionally be applied halachically, but whose main purpose is to teach us the pivotal role of rabbinic law in Torah life. Specifically because of the many leniencies Chazal themselves applied to their decrees, it is necessary for them to remind us both in general and in certain specific cases how rabbinical law, routed in Torah law as it is (we will hopefully have future opportunity to discuss in what way this is the case ,) essentially stems  from the same divine authority.

Why Chazal choose to highlight this in certain cases specifically requires careful study, but we will leave that for another time.

Coming back to the issue we raised with Rashi’s view that a true public domain on a biblical level must have 600,000 people at a minimum, perhaps we can relook at the פסי ביראות  and why they need to be already validated as a partition on a biblical level.

Our assumption was that this must be because otherwise, chazal would not have the ability to treat them leniently in the case of the wells.

Perhaps, however, this assumption is not fully necessary?

There are times when Chazal do treat rabbinical laws as strictly or even more strictly than biblical ones. As we have seen above, and even times when the usual rule of אין גוזרין גזירה לגזירה   does not apply ( see גזירה שמט יעלה הים שירטון  as a possible example as well as recently on daf 20a “גזירה שמא יאמרו עירוב מועיל לבין הפסין” )

Perhaps, when it comes to something as novel as creating a new type of partition, Chazal were unwilling to do this even in an area which is only rabbinically treated like a public domain, out of concern that this would become a generally accepted type of partition even in cases they did not intend it to be relied on, maybe even in a real public domain?

This opens the possibility that the typical area around a well might indeed not be a true רשות הרבים  according to Rashi!

The problem is that Rashi himself seems to say explicitly that we are dealing with a true רשות הרבים  and true רשות היחיד-there are also numerous sugyos that imply that we are dealing with a true רשות הרבים  , including on our daf itself- I think that we might be able to work It out, but that’s is for today!

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.