Eruvin 87-88 The hanging partition,the Kinneret, and strengthening דרבנן

One of the fascinating concepts we have seen over the past view daf is the concept of a מחיצה תלויה- a hanging partition.

The generally accepted view is that any partition that  a goat could get through is not considered a partition, and as such, it needs to be at least 10 tefachim high from the ground up.

It could also start a maximum of 3 tefachim above the ground, due to the rule of לבוד.

However, a מחיצה תלויה  (hanging partition) which extends 10 tefachim or more from the roof downwards but does not reach within 3 tefachim of the ground, is invalid.

This is the view of חכמים  regarding a Sukkah, though Rabbi Yosi dissents and allows it (Sukkah 16a)

However, there is an exception to this rule, and that is when it comes to a body of water.

Sometimes, people would build houses on the sea, river, or lake shore, and they would build balconies over the lake or sea , from which they could draw water.

They might also have a water-canal passing through their property.

Of course, this presents a problem on shabbos, seeing as the water body generally has the law of a כרמלית  (open area that does not qualify as a public domain), the balcony is a רשות היחיד (private domain), and transferring from the one to the other is rabbinically prohibited.

In order to circumvent this, a method was used whereby an area in the waterbody underneath the balcony was “partitioned” in order to become part of the same רשות היחיד  as the property.

In the case of an אמת המים (canal), a partition was built over the points where it entered and exited the courtyard.

In the case of the balcony, a mechitza would hang down from the balcony surrounding that area.

Although this would be a מחיצה תלויה , which is normally invalid, the sages were lenient when it came to the need for water supply, and allowed it, in the words of the Gemara:  קל הוא שהקילו חכמים במים.

In the Mishna at the bottom of Eruvin 86b, we discussed the case of a water-cistern that lies between 2 courtyards, where the wall between the courtyards passes over the pit.

Although the wall could perhaps be a מחיצה תלויה , dividing the pit between the two courtyards and allowing each courtyard to draw water from its side, the Mishna requires a special partition to be build in or over the pit. (see Gemara there for different views.)

Rabbi Yehuda, however, allows them to rely on the border-wall itself.

The Gemara assumes that Rabbi Yehuda follows the view of Rabbi Yosi regarding Sukkah, that a מחיצה תלויה  is valid even over dry land.

Although the wall passes over the cistern, which is clearly a body of water, Rashi explains that the leniency of allowing a hanging partition  over a body of water only applies when it is clear that it was built for that purpose, which is clearly not the case with the border-wall.

As such, this is the equivalent of a hanging partition over dry land, which is why the Chachamim do not accept it.

The Gemara counters that the two cases are not comparable:

Rabbi Yehuda is lenient in the case of the pit seeing as the requirement for eruv chatzeiros is only rabbinic, but would never be lenient when it comes to a Sukkah which is a biblical requirement.

Rabbi Yossi, on the other hand was lenient when it came to Sukkah, seeing as eating outside the Sukkah is only a בטול עשה  (going against a positive command), but would never be lenient when it comes to Shabbos transgression  which is a capital offense (at least under certain circumstances.)

Either way, the normative view seems to be that a מחיצה  תלויה  is only allowed over waterbodies.

The Beraisa discusses a case where a water-canal runs between two houses and can be accessed via windows from each house.

It says that if it is less than 3 tefachim wide (or 4 according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel,) one may draw water from it.

The Gemara first assumes that this is referring to the width of the canal  and that whereas below this width, it is a מקום פטור  from which water may be transferred directly to the house, above this threshold it is already a כרמלית  from which water may not be transferred.

However, as Rav Dimi had quoted Rabbi Yochanan as saying that a כרמלית  cannot be less than 4 tefachim wide, the Gemara prefers not to make these words subject to a tannaic debate.

It therefore explains that the Beraisa is referring to the width of the banks of the canal between it and the overlooking window of the house.

If the bank is less than 3 tefachim (or 4 according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel,) it would be considered a מקום פטור  and even if the canal itself is wide enough to be a כרמלית, it would be permitted to transfer the pitcher to the canal via the banks and back once filled with water via the banks.

This implies that the Beraisa permits transferring an item from two different domains via a מקום פטור.

However, Rav Dimi has also reported Rabbi Yochanan’s view who permits transferring an item from a private domain or a public domain to a מקום פטור  or vice versa, he does not permit using the מקום פטור  as a half-way station for transferring an item from  a private domain to a public one or vice-versa.

The Gemara explains that Rav Dimi’s case involved biblically forbidden transfers, and it is thus rabbinically forbidden even through a מקום פטור.

However, seeing as the canal is only a כרמלית and transferring directly from it to the private domain is only rabbinically forbidden, Rabbi Yochanan would permit doing so through a מקום פטור.

The Gemara then brings a case (that we have seen earlier)  where Rabbi Yochanan permits transferring something from one of the two adjoining courtyards to the top of the wall between, so long as it is less than 4 tefachim wide and thus considered a מקום פטור.

This is contrast to Rav who forbids doing so.

He does not, however, permit using the wall as a means of transferring from the one courtyard to the other, even though transferring from one private domain to another is only rabbinically prohibited (in the absence of an eruv!)

The Gemara concludes that that reflects Zeiri’s view, who forbids doing this even where the direct transfer is only rabbinical.

What is immediately obvious is that when it comes to using a מקום פטור  as a means of transferring from one domain to another, the Gemara is happy to suggest that Rabbi Yochanan is more lenient regarding rabbinical domains than regarding biblical ones.

Yet we have seen earlier )Eruvin 77a)  that not only does Rav not go along with this, but he is even stricter when it comes to rabbinical domains- not only does he not permit using the top of the wall (less than 4 tefachim wide) as a half-way station from one courtyard to the other, he even forbids carrying from one of the courtyards to the top of the wall itself or vice-versa, despite it being a מקום פטור which would be permitted even from a biblical private or public domain!

His reasoning was that precisely because we are dealing with rabbinical domains, we need to be extra stringent so that people do not take them lightly!

We have seen (85b) that Shmuel also followed that approach, and have also seen it in the beginning of the Maseches (see posts on Eruvin 3 and Eruvin 21)

Not withstanding the fact that that approach seems to fly in the face of the normal principle that advocates more leniency is rabbinic matters particularly regarding eruvin, Tosfos points out that Rabbi Yochanan clearly does not accept this approach even in these case, and follows the usual rule of treating rabbinical laws more leniently.

Given Rabbi Yochanan’s seniority in halachik rulings over both Rav and Shmuel, this could have major halachik ramifications wherever the idea of חכמים עשו חזוק לדבריהים  applies, and there is a need to understand the basis of these two different approaches, and whether Rabbi Yochanan’s rejection thereof is limited to this case or is a general objection to the entire concept.

If the debate is purely local, we need to understand why Rabbi Yochanan did not feel the need to “strengthen” this particular rabbinical requirement of forbidden carrying from either domain to a כרמלית   or vice versa.

If on the other hand, this is his global position, we would need to explain why he never feels the need to “strengthen” rabbinical requirements and show that his position is consistent in other places where this principle is used.

Much to think about- hopefully more on this as our journey continues…

The “sea of Teverya” (Kinneret) as well as the inhabitants of Teverya get a special mention on Eruvin 87 as well as Eruvin 88.

We learnt on Eruvin 86-87 that Rabbi Chananya ben Akavya has an extra special leniency when it came to drawing water from a water-body under a balcony.

He held that if the balcony was at least 4 by 4 amos (24 by 24 tefachim,) one could cut a hole of 4 by 4 tefachim in the middle, and the rest of the balcony would be viewed as “bent partitions”  dropping the required 10 tefachim below the balcony on all 4 sides. Then, the rule of גוד אחית מחיצתא  (the partition continues downwards as a hanging partition) kicks in , making the water below the hole a private domain!

At the bottom of Eruvin 87b, the Mishna seems to disagree with this, seeing as it requires proper partitions on or below the balcony, not imaginary bent ones.

The Gemara notes this difficulty and explains (as it has suggested earlier) that this special double leniency of Chananya ben Akavya is limited to the sea of Teverya  (the Kinneret.)

This is because it is surrounded by banks, cities, and קרפפים , making it more similar to a private domain than a כרמלית.

Rashi explains that even though it was not מוקף לדירה (surrounded for the purposes of dwelling in it) and thus still has the law of a כרמלית  , It is still different to most bodies of water and Chananya applied this leniency to make it easier for the people of Teverya.

The Gemara then notes that this was one of 3 leniencies that he made for the people of Teverya.

The other two were as follows:

1.       Normally, when one collects material from outside early in the morning while the due is still on it, the material is considered susceptible to impurity because of the due. However, if one is not happy with it being damp, but only collected it early in order to get to work on time, the material is not susceptible. Chananya took note of the fact that the people of Teverya were hard workers and allowed them to treat the material they collected  as non-susceptible !

2.       He also permitted them to dry themselves with a towel  after washing (on Yom Tov or in cold water on Shabbos- see Rashi) without worrying that they might come to squeeze the towel, apparently as they were known to be careful with such things!

It is truly to live in a time and place where we are so close to so many of the holy places mentioned in the ancient sources and that we are able to enjoy the splendor of the “Sea of Teverya” like our sages did before us!

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s