Miracles in everyday life- Shekalim 14

We have discussed before the two different approaches to miracles associated with the Rambam and Ramban respectively. 
Whereas Rambam sees supernatural miracles as a rare event Hashem performs occasionally in order to show that he controls nature , and tends to explain seemingly supernatural events discussed outside Tanach in natural ways , Ramban believes that such miracles are a regular part of life .
The truth is that both views  seem to be well represented in Chazal. 
On our daf, a story is told of a certain pious man who used to dig well and pits for travellors to drink from.
His daughter was swept away by a flood and noone , not even the famed Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair could comfort him.
When told about the pious acts he had done , Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair declared thats it is impossible that someone who served Hashem with water would be harmed like that by water .
Soon, an announcement was made that the man’s daughter has been found  .
Two versions of the story are given:
One is that she was able to hold onto a branch and survive.
The other is that an angel appeared in the form of Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair and saved her.
We see in this story representation of both approaches- the natural miracle , and the supernatural. A similar example can be found in the Bavli ( Brachos ) where 400 barrels of Rav Huna’s wine turned into vinegar. 
Rav Ada bar Ahava and the Rabbis came to visit him and suggested that he look into his affairs to examine what he had done to deserve this.
Rav Huna was offended that they had suspected him of wrong-doing and they countered by asking him if he suspected Hashem of punishing him for no reason .
Rav Huna then asked them  if they  had heard any rumours about him .
They replied that they had heard that he never paid his sharecropper. 
Rav Huna replied that the man was a thief and had stolen more than the value of his work but nevertheless took the “mussar” and paid him in any case.
Two versions of the conclusion are then brought !
One is that a miracle happened and the vinegar turned back into wine.
The other is that the price of vinegar went up to the price of wine !
Again, we see one view that explains the miracle in a natural way and another that explains it supernaturally!


Pesachim 103-105 the Shortened Havdala- המבדיל בין קודש לחול

These daf focus on the laws of Havdala and the precise wording to be used in the main bracha ,other than the bracha on the wine, spices, candle, Shehecheyanu etc as appropriate.

Although the longer bracha we are accustomed to say is also sourced in this daf, the Gemara also records the shorter version of Rabbi Yehuda haNasi, which includes just one mention of havdala, namely ברוך המבדיל בין קודש לחול.

A number of Amoraim, including Rabbi Yaakov Bar Aba [see Rashbam Pesachim 103b ד”ה “א”ל” ],   רבי מנחם בר סימאי  , and Chananya  [see 104a) seem to follow this view, and the Gemara brings a case where Rav Yehuda told his son, Rabbi Yitchak, to take a basket of fruit to meet Ullah and observe what version of the Havdala he said.

Rather than going himself, he sent Abaya, who reported back to him that Ullah had said only ברוך המבדיל בין קודש לחול.

Rav Yitchak then reported this to his father, who rebuked him for not going himself, saying that his arrogance deprived him of the ability to hear this directly from Ullah himself.

In contrast, Rava would say the full version we have today, citing רבי אלעזר  and רבי אושעיא for support [see Rashbam 103b ד”ה “כי מטא], רב שמואל בר אידי  ruled against his brother חנניא, and רבי יהושע בן לוי  also rules that a concluding bracha is needed as well [104a.]

There are several possible differences between the longer version we say and that of רבי יהודה הנשיא .

  1. The longer version mentions four different types of הבדלות  (distinctions) that Hashem makes, whereas the shorter one only mentions one.
  2. The longer version both begins and ends withאתה ה’  ברוך, whereas the shorter version contains this phrase only once, if at all
  3. The longer version mentions Hashem’s name and is a fully fledged bracha, where it is not immediately clear from the Gemara whether the shorter  version does so and has the status of a fully fledged ברכה.  Whereas the wording quoted by the Gemara does not include the phrase ברוך אתה ה’, it could be that it is taken for granted as כל ברכה שאין בה שם ומלכות לאו שמיה ברכה  (any blessing that does not contain Hashem’s name and the word “king” is not a bracha-Brachos 12a.)  It is also possible though, that the shorter version is only valid for one who made Havdala in his Amida already, and that a second fully-fledged bracha is not required but rather a symbolic declaration is sufficient.

On the one hand, as a later authority, it sees that Rava’s view should be accepted, yet on the other hand, Ullah’s view seems to get the last word in our Gemara.

Some support could possibly be brought from a different sugya (Shabbos 150b) for those who follow רבי יהודה הנשיא  and say the shorter version.

The Mishna (Shabbos 150a  ) rules that it is permitted to wait at the border of the shabbos techum in order to do work in the field outside the techum as soon as Shabbos is over.

The Gemara asks how this is permitted, seeing as it is forbidden to work before Havdala, and two answers are given:

  1. רבי נתן בר אמי  in front of רבא -The Mishna is referring to בין הגיתות  (the wine-pressing season) where there is plenty wine in the field on which to make havdala.
  2. רבי אבא  to  רב אשי -The Mishna is referring to someone who says the phrase ברוך המבדיל בין קודש לחול  after which working is permitted.

The later answer seems to have been  accepted by רב אשי   (who reports this as having been their custom in the house of רב כהנא ), which indicates that we are likely to rule accordingly, hence validating the shorter version.

However, whereas the later answer seems very similar in wording to the view of רבי יהודה הנשיא  in our sugya, there are some major differences:

  1. In our sugya, we are talking about the ideal version of the havdala, whereas the case in Shabbos might simply be referring to a second-best solution when making havdala properly is not possible before work.
  2. In our sugya, whatever the accepted version of havdala is works completely, and one has fulfilled one’s obligation with it. In contrast, it is possible that in the case in Shabbos, one would still need to say the full havdala properly later.
  3. In our sugya, it is clear that even the shorter version is said over a cup of wine, whereas the solution mentioned in shabbos seems to be for a situation where wine is not available (after all, it is brought as an alternative answer to בין הגיתות .)
  4. In our sugya, one is clearly permitted to do anything that havdala stood in the way of doing once the correct version has been said, including not only doing מלאכה  but also eating and drinking. There is no mention in the sugya in Shabbos about permission to eat and drink, just permission to work. Some analysis is required to ascertain whether there should be a practical different regarding work and eating and drinking, but it is possible that even if the symbolic declaration is sufficient to allow work, the general rule forbidding eating before a time-urgent mitzva is performed might still apply until the full version has been said correctly over a cup of wine.

Although there is much discussion in the ראשונים  here and particularly in Shabbos as to the above points and how these two סוגיות  relate to each other, there appears to be near consensus that in our sugya, we are talking an abridged but fully fledged bracha, with שם ומלכות, made over a cup of wine.

There is some debate however, whether the view of עולא  is equivalent to that of רבי יהודה הנשיא, includes only one phrase of הבדלה  rather than four, and lacks the concluding phrase “ברוך אתה ה'” typical of longer brachos (see for example Rashi , and רבינו חננאל ) or whether עולא’s version included all 4 phrases and simply left out the concluding bracha (see Tosfos 195a, also see Rashbam 104b)

When it comes to the case in Shabbos, most ראשונים   (רש”י שם, רבינו חננאל שם,רשב”א שם,רי”ד שם וכו) seem to hold that the shorter version there is just a סימנא בעלמא  (symbolic statement) which permits work, but not eating and drinking, and that needs to be followed as soon as possible by the full הבדלה .

As such, it does not include the phrase “ברוך אתה ה’ ”  even once , containing just the words “ברוך המבדיל בין קודש לחול “ and no cup of wine.

According to this view, although the same phrase is used in both סוגיות, they are actually two completely things- The version in our sugya is רבי יהודה הנשיא’s shortened version of a fully-fledged הבדלה  with which one fulfills one’s obligation in full, whereas the version in Shabbos is a symbolic phrase that lacks the form of a ברכה  at all and merely delays the full הבדלה, allowing one to work but not eat or drink in the meanwhile.

In contrast, The ריף, (also quoted by various Rishonim such as , רשב”א ,ר”ן  ריטב”א) seems to link the two sugyos and hold that the version mentioned in Shabbos is the same version of רבי יהודה הנשיא  . He rules that in our case, seeing as the מנהג  was not in accordance with רבי יהודה הנשיא , one has to say the full version of הבדלה  before eating or drinking. In contrast, in the case in Shabbos, the custom follows רבי יהודה הנשיא  and the shorter version of הבדלה  suffices in order to allow one to work but must include שם ומלכות  and according to some interpretations (See Rashba)  even requires a cup of wine.

A  similar  approach is evident in  רבינו חננאל  (Shabbos 150b) who also requires שם ומלכות  but like the Rif, makes no explicit mention of requiring a cup of wine  and so rules the Tur (O.C. 299), bringing the ראש  and the בה”ג  for support!

In practise, later authorities rule that  the full Havdala is required before eating or drinking, and that the shortened symbolic version with no שם ומלכות  and no wine is sufficient to permit working.

 Some Rishonim (רשב”א שבת קנ: ,טור או”ח  299 וכו) seem to only permit this if one has ALSO made הבדלה  in his amida, but most seem to consider either this symbolic statement OR the הבדלה  in the amida sufficient to allow work to be performed, while requiring the full הבדלה  to be said before eating or drinking . (עיין רש”י שם,ר”ן שם,ריטב”א שם, רמב”ם ה’ שבת כט-ו לפי הבנת הריטב”א אלא שצ”ע), and this is the way post later  poskim rule  ( ש”ע או”ח רצט-ורמ”א שם )

This seems to be an interesting example where the Shulchan Aruch rules against both the Rif and the Tur, even more so given that the Rambam’s words could be somewhat ambiguous!

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.

Pesachim 101-102 Kiddush in shul, קדוש במקום סעודה, and Mezonos.

After discussing Kiddush arrangements where a meal continues straight into Pesach, Shabbos, or another Yom-Tov (something some Hasidic Purim meals actually did this year,) our perek moves away temporarily from Pesach matters and focusses on matters relating to Kiddush, Brachos, and Havdala.

The first such sugya opens by discussing the common practise of making Kiddush in Shul on Shabbos.

The question is whether those who did so themselves or through the chazan have fulfilled their obligation of Kiddush already, or whether they have not done so.

Although both Rav and Shmuel agree that one should make Kiddush in Shul and at home, they differ as to why:

Rav holds that they have fulfilled their obligation in shul already and only make Kiddush at home for their families who were not at shul- it could follow that if one eats at home alone after saying or hearing Kiddush in shul, one does not say Kiddush again at home.

In contrast, Shmuel holds that one can only fulfill one’s obligation of Kiddush במקום סעודה (in the place of a meal) and seeing as they did not eat a meal in shul after making Kiddush, they have not fulfilled their obligation of Kiddush.

According to Shmuel, the only reason why Kiddush is said in shul is for the sake of visitors from out of town who used to eat and sleep in the shul- they would fulfill their obligation of Kiddush with the chazan or someone else from the community after-which they would carry on with their meal there!

 (according Tosfos, due to the prohibition against eating or sleeping in shul, this would be in a side-room, but this is a discussion in itself -see Ran on the Rif who also suggests this but also suggests that visitors might be permitted to eat in shul because of the public mitzva that the townspeople are keeping by hosting them)

It could follow according to the later view, if there are no visitors in shul, Kiddush should not be said, and this is indeed how Tosfos  (ד”ה “ידי קדוש”)   and the Tur (O.C. 269) rules.

Of course, it is also possible that Chazal instituted Kiddush in shul and at home for the above-mentioned reasons but that they did applied this across the board, regardless of circumstances, and that even when the reason for the תקנה does not apply, it should still be said (see Ran דפי הריף כ  who rules this way and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 269 who accepts the custom to say it regardless but prefers that it be annulled!)

Before looking at some of the details of Shmuel’s requirement that קדוש  must be said in the place where a meal will be held thereafter, it is important to note that the Gemara puts Rabbi Yochanan on record as agreeing with Rav that this is not necessary.

Using the usual rules of psak, we usually follow Rabbi Yochanan against Rav and Shmuel, and Rav against Shmuel- how much more so when both Rav and Rabbi Yochanan disagree with Shmuel.

Yet the Gemara proves that later Amoraim such as Rav Huna and Rabbah ruled like Shmuel, and on that basis, the above cited Tosfos rules in accordance with Shmuel, as do the Rif, Rosh, and Rambam(Shabbos 29/8)  !

Having established that we follow Shmuel’s requirement that Kiddush has to be במקום סעודה  , we now need to identify or define

  1. The source or reason for this requirement.
  2. The definition of a סעודה  regarding this law- does it need to be a halachik meal with bread, does פת הבאה בכיסנין (snack or “Mezonos” bread such as cake or crackers) count, is any food that requires the bracha of מזונות  sufficient, or is even  perhaps an additional portion of wine, grape-juice, or even meal, fish, fruit, or other שהכל  foods acceptable?
  3. The definition of מקום  as far as this law goes- does it mean the same building, the same house, the same floor, the same room, or even the same corner of the room?
  4. The scope of this law- does it apply even to Kiddush in the morning, or only to Kiddush at night or vice-versa.

In order to understand the nature of this requirement, and also because of its possible relevance to the other questions, let us beginning by focusing on the first question.

Before attempting to identify the source or reason of the law of קדוש במקום סעודה , it would be appropriate to identify the source of reason for the requirement to say Kiddush altogether.

Whereas the biblical source for the mitzva to say Kiddush on Shabbos is derived from the מצות עשה  of “זכור את יום השבת לקדשו”  (remember the shabbos day to sanctify it), Chazal understood  (Pesachim 106a) that this “sanctification” needs to be done over a cup of wine – זכרהו על היין .

The requirement to make a special declaration about shabbos is also mentioned later in Tanach (Yeshayahu 58) where we are told וקראת לשבת עונג  (and you shall call the shabbos a pleasure.)

The Rashbam and Tosfos both understand that the later source is the basis of Shmuel’s rule, based on a דרשה- in the place where you call the shabbos (make Kiddush), you shall have pleasure (a meal)- This דרשה  is also brought in the Rif and the Rosh, possibly as part of their גירסא  in the Gemara itself, in which case it is possible that the Rashbam also had it in his text but was not convinced it was a דרשה  as such.

Rashbam suggests an alternative basis for Shmuel’s law, this time a סברא (reason based on logic)- HE argues that seeing as Kiddush was instituted on wine already, it is logical that it was instituted on the more important wine drunk before a meal, and not just on a casually drunk cup of wine.

It follows that Rav and Rabbi Yochanan would not accept either of these sources,  not making such a דרשה  from the passuk, and not accepting the above סברא- the reasons for this of course require further analysis, but we will move on for now.

According to the first reason requiring the Kiddush to be made in a place of עונג, it seems likely that any food that is defined as an עונג  (likely in addition to the actual cup of wine used for the Kiddush) should suffice, but that food that does not involve עונג  would not.

In contrast, according to the second reason, it seems that a meal with halachik importance, namely a bread meal, or at least פת הבאה בכיסנין  might be required.

I do not see a major נפקא מינה  of these two different explanations  regarding the third question about the definition of מקום  (though those who study the daf will see that it is the subject of much discussion in the Gemara and the Rishonim) , and the answer to the fourth question would probably relate to whether the above sources and סברא  also apply to the day-time Kiddush or only to the night-time Kiddush, a topic I hope to be able to go into another time (see discussion later in the perek on 106a regarding the night and day-time  Kiddush themselves.)

Returning to the question of how we define a סעודה  as far as קדוש במקום סעודה  is concerned , the stories brought to illustrate how Rav Huna and Rabbah ruled like Shmuel  could also be pivotal.

In both cases the food eaten is referred to as “מידי” – “something.”

Although a simple reading of this word seems to indicate that eating pretty much anything is sufficient  for the purposes of קדוש במקום סעודה, both Tosfos and the Rosh understand that this refers to פת  or לחם  respectively ( both words for bread), bringing proofs for this assertion from other sugyos, which I wish we had time to analyze here.

This seems to follow the סברא  of the Rashbam but seeing as they both seem to see the דרשה  as the source for the requirement and not the סברא, it seems like they understand that the word עונג  itself implies a proper bread meal וצ”ע.

Either way, it seems that in their food that even Mezonos is not sufficient and a halachik meal with bread has to accompany the Kiddush- it is also possible though that פת הבאה בכיסנין  is considered bread for these purposes too, and even if eaten in smaller quantities than that which would make it a halachik meal subject to המוציא , it suffices for our purposes- a thorough analysis of the sugyas brought as proof for the requirement for bread as well as the סוגיא  of פת הבאה בכיסנין  would be needed to assess this possibility, but this does seem to be common practise. (see Shulchan Aruch O.C. 273/5 and its commentaries for practical rulings on this matter.)

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.

Pesachim 53-54 Yom-Kippur candles, good intentions, and the power of looks

In loving memory of my dear father, Moreinu haRav Avraham Benzion ben Azriel Hertz Isaacson zt’l, whose love of Torah, passion for justice, and acts of kindness inspire everything I do.

Towards the bottom of daf 53, the Gemara presents a debate that took place while Ullah was travelling on his donkey, accompanied by Rabbi Aba and רבה בר בר חנה.

First, some background:

The Mishna had discussed a difference in customs regarding whether to light candles for Yom-Kippur or not.

Unlike shabbos eve, where lighting candles was a universally accepted obligation, Yom Kippur eve had no such consensus in this regard, and whereas in some locations there was a practise to do so, in others, the practise was to refrain from this.

Keeping with the general requirement to follow local custom, the Mishna ruled that everyone must follow the custom of his place.

The Gemara pointed out that this was not an issue of being stringent or lenient ,as is the case in many of the customs we have discussed- rather, there was strong reasoning on both sides, both related to the same concern.

Before we attempt to explain this, we should note that various reasons are given for the rabbinical mitzva of lighting candles for shabbos, among them:

  1. עונג שבת  (to allow one to enjoy shabbos- it being rather difficult to do so in the dark- see Rambam Shabbos 5/1)
  2. כבוד שבת  (honoring shabbos- a banquet without light is not  honorable – see Rashi Shabbos 25b ד”ה “חובה”  and Rambam Shabbos 30/5]
  3. שלום בית  (keeping the peace at home- it being rather difficult to do so if people are constantly falling over things or bumping into one another- see Rashi, Shabbos 25b ד”ה “הדלקת נר”

Whereas all these reasons could apply, perhaps with some nuances, to Yom-Tov, Yom Kippur might indeed be different.

Whereas there is no mitzva of עונג    (enjoyment) on Yom Kippur, there might certainly be a mitzva of כבוד  , yet according to Rashi, the כבוד  provided by the candles is achieved by making the meal more distinguished, and there is no meal on Yom-Kippur!

At first glance, it seems that given the holiness of the day, שלום בית  is certainly also  an applicable reason, and having people falling over things on Yom-Kippur is hardly a reason for this.

Yet שלום בית  has multiple implications, and its most highlighted component sometimes seems to revolve around the physical and emotional relationship between man and wife, the former being limited on Yom-Kippur by the prohibition against תשמיש המיטה  (sexual relations) and other physical contact. (See Shabbos 152a where Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta refers to his אבר תשמיש  (sexual organ) as the עושה שלום בבית  (the peacemaker at home!)

It might be that the damage to this  important component of שלום בית  when people are bumping into each other, putting the husband and wife in a bad mood not suitable for such relations, is what makes shabbos candles on shabbos obligatory, and this consideration is lacking on Yom-Kippur.

However, the Gemara’s analysis of this debate does not seem to center on these considerations, but rather on the prohibition of sexual relations on Yom-Kippur. (though see later the view of Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar regarding lighting candles before Yom-Kippur that falls on Shabbos, for reasons of כבוד שבת!)

Rashi explains that on the one hand, if there is a candle lit on Yom-Kippur, people will be more likely to refrain from sexual relations due to the added prohibition of having such relations by the light of a candle (itself quite a statement, given that this seems to be a relatively mild prohibition compared to that of having sexual relations itself on Yom-Kippur, as well as the fact that everyone agrees that a candle is need on shabbos and this seems to present no such concern).

On the other hand, if one can see one’s wife on the night of Yom-Kippur, one is more likely to be attracted to her and tempted to transgress the more severe prohibition of actual sexual relations.

Whereas some explanation is needed for both above claims, the Gemara sees this as an example of how two communities can have opposite customs both with righteous intentions, applying the  passuk “ועמך כולם צדיקים לעולם ירשו ארץ. (“and your nation are all righteous people, they will forever inherit the land!)


Another dispute is recorded regarding whether one makes the bracha בורא מאורי האש  on a candle during havdala after Yom-Kippur, or whether this bracha is reserved for motzai-shabbos.

Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel as ruling that one does not, seeing as fire was created on motzai shabbos, and the bracha on it is thus reserved exclusively for that time.

רבה בר בר חנה is quoted as agreeing and as claiming that Rabbi Yochanan agreed!

Now, we return to the incident we opened up our post  with:

Rabbi Aba asked Ullah if it was true that Rabbi Yochanan had agreed that one only makes the bracha  בורא מאורי האש  on motzai shabbos, and not motzai Yom-Kippur, and Ullah responded initially by giving Rabbah bar Chana a “bad look.”

He then explained that when he quoted Rabbi Yochanan, it was not regarding this law, but rather regarding Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar’s claim regarding Yom Kippur that fell on shabbos.

Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar claimed that everyone agrees that one needs to light candles on the eve of such a day, out of honor for shabbos, and Ullah had quoted Rabbi Yochanan as noting that the Chachamim did not agree, and held that it was still subject to the same debate above (note that כבוד שבת  seems according to this view to be more important than כבוד כפור  and to override the concern of being attracted to one’s wife- it also does not seem to be related to the shabbos meal)

רבה בר בר חנה then relented and accepted that Ullah was correct.

We should note that receiving a “bad look” from someone, particular a Torah leader, is not a simple thing, recalling how Rabbi Yochanan when angered by  a student’s heresy, stared at him and turned him into a pile of bones. (see Bava Basra 75a )

Yet in this case, Rav Yosef seems to see this “bad look” in a positive light, praising Ullah for the ability to communicate his disapproval with a look rather than by verbally attacking רבה בר בר חנה, and praising רבה בר בר חנה for his ability to note such disapproval and accept it, applying  a relevant passuk in משלי  to both of them.


After asking what our custom is regarding the bracha on fire in havdala, the Gemara notes that רבי בנינין בר יפת  quoted Rabbi Yochanan (contrary to what was initially reported) as ruling that this bracha is made both on motzai shabbos and motzai Yom-Kippur, and that this is the way the people have spoken!    (note that this ruling is later qualified with the requirement that the candle used on motzai Yom-Kippur needs to be a נר ששבת  [a candle that was already lit over shabbos for permitted reasons, such as pikuach nefesh, or one that was lit before Yom-Kippur- see Rashi.])

Rashi explains that in the absence of the reason that fire was created on motzai shabbos, we require the other reason to make such a bracha, namely the fact that one is now able to use this fire for things one could not use it before (perhaps like lighting another fire with it.)

As such, we need a candle which was already burning but whose use was limited to us before Yom-Kippur ended due to the prohibition of melacha.

In conclusion, when it comes to lighting candles on erev Yom-Kippur, it seems that the usually authoritative view of Rabbi Yochanan is that it is still dependant on custom , whereas when it comes to making the bracha of בורא מאורי האש  on motzai shabbos, his view is that we do so, but only with a נר ששבת.

We have also learnt two amazing lessons in positivity, the one regarding how we view opposing halachik views as both coming from a place of righteousness, and the other regarding the benefits of using non verbal communication to resolve disputes.

As usual, counter examples to both the above could be found, but we shall focus on this angle for purposes of this post.

Eruvin 104 Soccer on Shabbos and when a גזירה’s reason doesn’t apply

One of the more contentious issues in many communities today is the question of children, teens, and even adults  playing  sports on Shabbos.

On the one hand, many argue that not only does this practise not confirm with the required atmosphere for the holiest day of the week, it also involves many other halachik problems.

On the other hand, most of these points could be arguable, and there is a strong argument that for many, they can certainly enhance their “oneg shabbos” , itself a major mitzva.

Some of the issues raised against playing games like soccer even in a private domain, are:

  1. Running itself is prohibited on shabbos. (see Shabbos 113a)
  2. The game is not in keeping with the spirit of shabbos and could even be in the category of forbidden weekday activities (see Peninei Halacha Shabbos 24/9 based on Rav A.I. Kook)
  3. Running on long  grass is problematic as one might come to uproot the grass while doing so, itself a forbidden melacha on shabbos. (see M.B. 336/25)
  4. Playing with a ball along the ground is prohibited on shabbos. (see M.B. 308/158)
  5. A ball is muktza (see S.A. O.C. 308/45)
  6. There is  a Midrash (Eichah Rabba parsha 2, possibly also referenced in the Yerushalmi  Taanis 4/5 ) that blames the destruction of the city טור שמעון on the fact that they played with balls on shabbos.

We saw in a recent post (see Eruvin 100)  that although walking in a rushed manner and running on shabbos are forbidden due to the passuk in Yeshaya forbidding weekday activities, in particular walking in a weekday rushed manner, running for the sake of a mitzva is permitted, as is running for “oneg shabbos” or even to get to an activity from which one will get “oneg shabbos.”

As such, the first 2 points seem less problematic, and although some have argued that given its nature as a commercial sport, soccer might be different to running and still be considered a weekday activity (Pninei halacha based on Rav A.Y. Kook ), this argument seems rather subject to debate, given that  both running and all sports are popular both privately and commercially.

In fact, given one’s busy school or work schedule during the week, they are actually far more popular on weekends than on “weekdays” and singling out sports like soccer as being particularly commercial in nature when it is a game played casually by young people in their backyards in most places in the world seems somewhat subjective.

We saw in that post that there is no issue with walking on grass on shabbos, even on long grass, and even with shoes with nails in them, due to the principle of דבר שאין מתכוין מותר.

We also saw that although the Mishna Berura forbids running on long grass and consider it פסיק  רישיה, this does not apply on short grass, and the Aruch haShulchan disagrees strongly and permits running on short grass as well- we also  analyzed the basis for this disagreement in classical sources.

Even on long grass according to the Mishna Berura, this would at worst only be rabbinically prohibited as פסיק רישיה דלא ניחה ליה  , seeing as one derives no benefit from any grass uprooted during the game.

The fifth point is a sugya in its own right, and needs to be dealt with separately, but the Rema (O.C. 308/45) rules that this is not an issue in any case, and the sixth point is aggadic material which needs to be understood but is not necessarily halachically relevant. Indeed, it is not mentioned by most Rishonim and Achronim at all ( see though Aruch haShulchan O.C. 38/70  who does bring it into the discussion.)

For the purposes of this post, I would like to focus  on point 4, which is based on a discussion on this very daf.

The Gemara has been discussing the prohibition of השמעת קול, making sounds with objects (as opposed to the voice) on shabbos, which is rabbinically forbidden in case on comes to fix a musical instrument.

The Gemara has been entertaining the later rejected  possibility that not only קול של שיר, the kind of sounds that accompany song are forbidden, but even other sounds, such as knocking on the door, making noise to wake someone up ,clapping hands to scare away birds, or drawing water with a wheel-run device are also forbidden.

One of the attempted proofs the Gemara brings is from a ruling of Rav quoted by Rav Yehuda that women who are accustomed to play with hazel-nuts  (rolling them like marbles, which Rashi explains was a common pastime for ladies) may not do so on Shabbos.

The Gemara at first assumed that this is because of the sounds they make and that this ruling is proof that even non song-related noises are forbidden.

It rejects this proof by explaining that the reason for this rabbinical prohibition is completely different, and is due to the concern that they might fill-in any holes in the courtyard ground that get in the way of the game (where the hazelnuts could be trapped.)

This could involve the melacha of building (indoors or perhaps in  courtyard) or ploughing (outdoors.)

It brings further evidence that this must be the reason from the fact that Rav Yehuda also forbade rolling apples along the ground, though they do not make noticeable sounds like hazel nuts.

However, it is very possible that this decree is limited to

  1. Women who play this game commonly, and not others for whom the concern is not so common
  2. Hazelnuts and apples which are relatively small and easily trappable in small to medium sized holes in the ground, and not larger spherical   objects such as a melon or a modern-day soccer balls (I am using this term for the sake of clarity although it is not a precisely accurate description for these items.)
  3. Situations and/or times where the ground used is usually already smooth and/or it is not common for players to smooth the ground out before or while playing.

Due to points 2-3, playing soccer is clearly rather removed from the decree that formed the basis for Rav’s ruling, and applying this prohibition thus seems to be quite a stretch.

Although one might argue from the case of the apples that the decree was not limited to small spheres such a hazel-nuts but included round items of all sizes, it is just as likely that it included items as large as apples, but not significantly larger, as argued in point 2 above

The issue raised in point 3 requires much analysis:

There is a general rule of אין בית דין יכול לבטל דברי בית-דין חבירו אלא אם כן גדול ממנו בחכמה ובמנין  – one court may not annul the words of an earlier court unless it is greater than it in wisdom and numbers  (Megila  2a ) .

 This and the related rules of

  1. 1.        כל דבר שבמנין צריך מנין אחר להתירו  (Beitza 5a-anything voted as forbidden by a court/group of authorities  requires another vote to permit it)


  •  לא פלוג רבנן (B.M 52a-the Rabbis do not differentiate between different cases in their decrees but rather make blanket rules )

seem to preclude annulling a decree such as this just because the concern of smoothing out holes does not apply commonly in a friendly soccer game.

Yet, there are various times where Tosfos argues that decrees do not apply in our day precisely because the reason for the decree is not relevant in our day.

For example, they argue that the prohibition of clapping, banging, and dancing even to song does not apply in our time because we are not expert in making/fixing musical instruments anymore and there is no concern one would do so (Beitza 30a ד”ה “תנן” )

They also argue that

  1.  the  prohibition of drinking מים מגולים  did not apply in their time as snakes were not common )Beitza 6a)
  2.  a bird used for children’s entertainment might not be muktza (Shabbos 45b),
  3.   the prohibition of entering into a partnership with idol-worshippers did not apply in his day seeing as the concern that they would make one swear by their idols was not relevant )Sanhedrin 63b ד”ה “אסור”, though the exact point Tosfos is making there is subject to much debate)

Whereas the question as to how the Tosfos are able to do this despite the principles quoted above requires a serious analysis, and one commonly suggested explanation is that they are not suggesting that the decree no longer applies but that the circumstances at hand are SO clearly different to those under which the decree was made that they were never included by Chazal in the decree in the first place.

While even this less controversial explanation of the approach of the Tosfos might not be accepted by many other Rishonim, there appears to be some precedent for it on our very daf.

One of the things that our Mishna permitted in the Mikdash as part of the long list of rabbinic prohibitions mentioned in our perek that do not apply there, was drawing water from certain pits with a wheel.

The implication of the Mishna is that this would be forbidden rabbinically  outside the Mikdash , and after suggesting that this is due to the prohibition against making sounds, the Gemara answered that it is out of concern that one might come to draw water to water his garden or ruin.

Despite this, the later Amora Ameimar permitted drawing water in such a way in the town of Mechoza, because there were no gardens or ruins there, until he saw that they used it for other forbidden purposes, such as soaking flax.

This seems to indicate that a later authority  (Ameimar) may permit something forbidden by an earlier authority (in this case none other than a Mishna) because the circumstances under which the decree was made do not exist.

The approach of the Tosfos thus seems clearly anchored in precedent, and even in the unlikely scenario that the decree against playing with hazelnuts and apples on a rough surface extended to larger spheres on a smooth surface, in a time and place where it is not common to play soccer on surfaces one would need to smooth during the game or directly before, there would still be reason to argue that such far-removed circumstances were never included in the decree in the first place.

Given the multiple reasons for leniency mentioned above and the fact that we are dealing with at most a rabbinical prohibition, forbidding soccer for reasons of this decree thus seems to be a rather stringent approach to the question.

We can also add to this the fact that the Tosfos on our daf say that even in the circumstances described on our daf with hazelnuts and apples, we should not protest and women and children who do this due to the principle of מוטב שיהיו שוגגין ואל יהיו מזידין , and there is strong argument that this principle also applies to teenage boys and other males who are also unlikely to listen.

At the end of the day, there are certainly worse things that kids could be up to these days, and although there might be other halachik, ideological, and policy issues that need to be taken into account before permitting it, this particular concern certainly doesn’t seem like cause for a major confrontation with them.

Having said this, achieving some balance is important- Given that Shabbos and Yom-Tov are supposed to  be special opportunities for spiritual pursuits such as davening, learning Torah, singing songs of praise, and strengthening the family, and not just for physical enjoyment, it seems clear that if these essential aspects of shabbos are replaced chas veshalom by sporting activities, this is a serious lack of כבוד שבת and is certainly forbidden.

As such, even if we permit  (or turn a blind eye to) kids playing sports during the afternoon while adults would usually be resting, it is essential to gently encourage and educate them to be a full part of the shabbos experience, both in shul and at home.

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 101-102 bolting the door, minhag, and the new Rav in town

In our earlier post on Eruvin 74-75, we discussed the situation where a community had received a lenient ruling which it followed and was later given a more stringent ruling by a new authority.

We noted the ruling of the Rema that a new Rav may indeed repeal the lenient ruling of a previous Rav, and that this might also apply to repealing an earlier stringent ruling.

The later might be more problematic, given the general rule (Pesachim 51a ) that דברים המותרים ואחרים נהגו בהם אסור אי אתה רשאי להתירן לפניהם  – things that are permitted but others were accustomed to forbid, one is not permitted to permit in front of them.

If this is the case for a stringency that a community took on by itself, how much more so should it be the case for something which they took on because of a ruling from their previous Rav!

In our Misha at the bottom of Eruvin 101, there is an explicit reference to a similar situation where Rabbis repealed existing lenient or stringent practices, though it is not clear whether the original practise was based on an earlier ruling of a Torah scholar, or simply developed over time.

The mishna continues to discuss actions that might resemble the מלאכה  of building on shabbos, including inserting a bolt whose one head is large enough to use to pound food (and thus considered a useful vessel already ) into a door in order to lock it (I have followed Rashi’s explanation here for the sake of brevity but this is a complex discussion in the Rishonim in its own right.)

The  Gemara later makes clear that if the bolt is already permanently connected to the door and is easily moved without the rope breaking (see Rashi and other Rishonim who give different explanations) even Rabbi Eliezer permits locking the door with it, as doing so no longer resembles building.

In contrast, if it was already connected to the door, but cannot be moved without the rope breaking (once again following Rashi’s explanation) , Rabbi Eliezer forbids doing so, seeing as it is not properly connected already, whereas Rabbi Yossi permits, seeing as it already has the features of a useful כלי and doing so does not resemble building.

The Ritva explains that this is because a person does not usually permanently set aside a useful כלי  as a bolt and it is clear to all that this is only a temporary fix and not an act of building .

Fascinatingly, both Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yossi bring support for their view from an incident in the shul in Teverya.

Rabbi Eliezer reported that the original custom in that shul was to lock the door with such a bolt, and when Rabban Gamliel and the elders came, they forbade it.

In contrast, Rabbi Yossi accounts that the original custom had been not to do so, and that when Rabban Gamliel and the elders came, they permitted it!

Although they do not appear bothered at all by the fact that according to Rabbi Eliezer, Rabban Gamliel and the elders forbade something against the existing custom to permit it, Tosfos are bothered by how according to Rabbi Yossi, they permitted something against the existing custom to forbid it.

This is because , as mentioned above, we have learnt (Pesachim 51a) that if something is permitted but others have treated it as forbidden, it is forbidden to permit it in front of them.

Seeing as the member of that shul were long accustomed to prohibiting this, how could Rabban Gamliel and the elders come and permit it?

Their answer could have  far-reaching ramifications for the authority of minhagim in general, and we shall hopefully get the chance soon again in Pesachim to discuss this issue in more detail.

For our purposes, we shall note that Tosfos distinguishes between a custom which people took on because they mistakenly believed something was actually forbidden, and a custom which people took on as an extra chumra despite knowing that it was actually permitted.

In the former case, their minhag was taken on due to error, and one may certainly permit it to them.

In the later case, no error was involved, and one may not later permit it.

Tosfos understands that according to Rabbi Yosi, the members of the shul refrained from locking the door with such a bolt because they mistakenly believed it was forbidden, and Rabban Gamliel and the elders were well within their rights to correct their error and permit it!

What is still unclear is what the reason was for their initial error? Was it simply ignorance on their part, or was it because another Rabbi had mistakenly (at least in the view of the later Rabbi) told them that it was forbidden (as Rabbi Eliezer indeed held?)

If the later is true, it would solve our original problem of how a new Rabbi can permit something forbidden by the previous Rabbi if in his view, the previous Rabbi was wrong.

It is also possible, however, that seeing as the community was doing the right thing by following their Rabbi at the time, their stringent practise cannot be seen as an error, and in such a case, the new Rabbi may not permit it.

The role of rabbinic authority in the acceptance of minhagim is itself worthy of much discussion, and as mentioned, I hope to continue this when we reach the relevant sugya in Pesachim, Hashem willing!

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 100 Running on grass on Shabbos

This is one of those daf that are  filled with an array of different colorful topics not directly related to Eruvin per se, spanning from other shabbos laws to advice regarding marital intimacy.

One of them is the prohibition of climbing or making use of trees on Shabbos and Yom-Tov.

The Gemara also brings a Beraisa that says that one may not even walk on grass on Shabbos, apparently in case one uproots it while walking.

This supports a ruling to that effect of Rami bar Aba in the name of Rav Assi, who bases this on the passuk )Mishlei 19/2)  “ואץ ברגלים חוטא”- one who is “אץ” with his legs is a sinner.

Rashi explains that this implies that walking can be considered a sin and doing so on grass on shabbos is precisely such a case.

The Gemara brings another Beraisa that rules to the contrary that walking on grass on shabbos is permitted.

The Gemara gives several options to reconcile these two Beraisa’s:

  1. The stringent  Beraisa is talking about walking on moist grass, which Rashi explains is forbidden, whereas the other is talking about walking on dry grass which Rashi explains is considered as if it has already been uprooted. Perhaps this is because dry grass  does not grow, is no longer deriving much nourishment from the grounded and detaching it might thus not fall under the מלאכה  of קוצר (harvesting) which includes detaching anything from the place where it grows.
  2. The one Beraisa is talking about during the dry season, and the other is talking about during the wet season.
  3. The stringent  Beraisa is talking about someone who is not wearing shoes. Rashi explains that the grass gets stuck around his toes and is easily torn.
  4. The stringent Beraisa is talking about one is who wearing shoes with nails in the bottom which cause grass to be torn .
  5. The stringent Beraisa is talking about walking on long grass which is more easily uprooted.

Though there appear to be some differences in the גירסא  (wording) of the above distinctions, they seem to be conclusively rendered mute by the Gemara that concludes that “today” that we follow Rabbi Shimon who holds that דבר שאין מתכוין מותר, it is permitted under all the above circumstances.

We have discussed multiple times in our posts on Maseches Shabbos the rule of דבר שאין מתכוין- when an otherwise permitted action might result in an unintended  secondary forbidden action.

Although Rabbi Yehuda and the Amora Rav forbid such an action, Rabbi Shimon and the Amora Shmuel permit it, and many Amoraim rule accordingly, including the later authority Rabbah- one of the only 3 times he supports a leniency of Shmuel against a stringency of Rav.

In our case, one wishes to perform the ostensibly permitted action of walking on grass, and there is a concern that while doing so, one will unintentionally transgress a second forbidden action of uprooting the grass

As we also know from various places, when the secondary forbidden action is inevitable, it is known as פסיק רישיה  and even Rabbi Shimon forbids the otherwise permitted action .

As such, it should follow from our Gemara’s application of Rabbi Shimon’s leniency to walking over grass in all these different circumstances that it does not consider uprooting the grass to be an inevitable result even when the shoes have nails in them or where the grass is long! (Alternatively, this could serve as a proof for the view of the ערוך who permits פסיק רישיה דלא ניחה but that is for a different discussion!)

If so, it seems that Rami bar Aba and Rav Assi who applied the passuk in Mishlei to this act, in line with the stringent Beraisa, must have held like Rabbi Yehuda and his view and accompanying דרשה  from the passuk is rejected together with the stringent Beraisa.

A very practical question involves whether this lenient ruling applies to running on grass as well.

On the one hand, the pressure exerted by running on the grass is certainly greater than that exerted by walking, both because of the speed as well as the different mechanism of running.

On the other hand, it is certainly not clear that running on short grass with regular shoes is more likely to uproot the grass than running on long grass with nailed shoes, and if the later is not considered פסיק רישיה, the former might not be either.

In addition, if there was a distinction between walking and running, one would expect the Gemara to make that distinction- it would be a perfect way to reconcile the two Beraisa’s!

One might counter that running is already forbidden on Shabbos as a weekday activity (see Shabbos 113a) but running  to learn, shul  or for the sake of another  mitzva is permitted (see Brachos 6b and Rif’s girsa there) , as is running for עונג שבת   (סמ”ק רפא) , so that argument seems rather mute.

If it was indeed פסיק רישיה  to run on grass on the way to shul, for example, one would expect the Gemara to say so at some point.

The Biur Halacha (O.C. 336/3) however, brings the סמ”ג  (לאוין סה) , who quotes the Yere’im as bringing our Gemara as a proof that one should not walk on grass on shabbos where it is impossible not to uproot it while walking!

He quotes others who questioned these words of the סמ”ג  based on the seemingly obvious fact that the Gemara rejected the view that forbids walking on grass because we follow Rabbi Shimon, implying that it does not consider it to be פסיק רישיה  under any circumstances- after all, this is how most of the Rishonim seem to have learnt the sugya!

He suggests that the סמ”ג  and יראים were bothered by the fact that the Gemara rejected all the distinctions made to reconcile the stringent Beraita with the lenient one, because we follow Rabbi Shimon, but did not reject the derasha of Rabbi Assi that started the discussion.

They therefore assume that Rabbi Asi’s derasha is still upheld and he must be referring to running on tall grass, which is considered to be  פסיק רישיה.

Based on this reasoning, he cautions in  the Mishna Berura (O.C. 336/25)  against running on long grass on Shabbos.

This seems to be quite a chumra, given that it is based on a distinction not made by the Gemara, as well as a novel interpretation of a סמ”ג  and יראים  that we do not see in most of the Rishonim (see Aruch haShulchan 336/21 who indeed rejects this stringency for these reasons,) but it opens the door to the possibility that under certain circumstances, there is a distinction between running and walking, and even when running is permitted on shabbos, for a mitzva or oneg shabbos, it might be problematic where uprooting the grass appears closer to inevitable.

Would the Mishna Berura extend that stringency to other types of running that might be closer to פסיק רישיה  such as running on regular grass without shoes or with nail-studded shoes?

Seeing as his ruling is already novel, and he never mentioned such obvious possibilities, it seems that even if we follow his stringency, we should apply the rule of אין בו אלא חדושו (we do not extend a novelty beyond what is stated,) unless it is clear to us under certain circumstances that there is a case of פסיק רישיה.

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 82   Nature walks on Shabbos and אין מערבין אלא לדבר מצוה

This is one of those daf where there are so many different topics to choose from, (including some we have started dealing with already in previous posts,)  that having to choose one for the purposes of this post is particularly frustrating.

From gambling and אסמכתא  , to the role of קטן, disputes, ברירה  revisited, דעת בערוב, the food used for the eruv, Talmudic measurements, and more, this is no “one-sugya” daf.

Yet I decided to focus on the ruling of Rav Yosef that an eruv techumim may only be made for the sake of a mitzva.

He derives this from the Mishna on this daf which discussed how a person can make an eruv techumim on behalf of other people in his town.

He places the barrel containing the eruv in the chosen place and states that the eruv is  for all inhabitants of his city that want to go to a mourner’s house or בית המשתה  (place of drinking, sometimes used to refer to wedding feast.)

Noting that both examples given are for the purposes of mitzvos (comforting mourners and making the bride and groom happy,) Rav Yosef deduced that it is only for the purposes of a mitzva that an eruv can be made.

This deduction could be questioned for a few reasons:

i.                     Perhaps the Mishna is only mentioning the most common reasons someone would walk that far on shabbos ( אורחא דמילתא ) but does not intend to exclude דבר הרשות  (voluntary or non-mitzva related purposes.)

ii.                   Perhaps the permission to make the eruv on behalf on everyone in the city is limited to דבר מצוה  (matters of a mitzva) but making an eruv for one’s own purposes is allowed even לדבר הרשות?

iii.                 Perhaps this limitation only applies to when one uses food for one’s eruv, but if one is מערב ברגל (makes the eruv by being at the site of eruv just before shabbos,) it may be done even for דבר הרשות.

Whereas the Gemara acknowledges the first point and admits that Rav Papa’s deduction is indeed a חדוש, it does not question his ruling, and he appears to have the final word on the matter.

The second two points are not mentioned at all in the Gemara. While I have not seen any of the Rishonim mentioning the second point, there is indeed a strongly represented view amongst them that makes the distinction raised in the third case (see  among others Rabbenu Yonatan on the Rif, Meiri)

While it seems from this daf that the matter is settled, there are various other sources that show that it is far from simple.

For example, back on Eruvin 31, we saw a debate between Rabbi Yehuda and Chachamim regarding whether one may place the eruv food on a grave- this could be  because one is not allowed to benefit from a grave and the eruv might be considered  benefit seeing as it allows one to walk further than one could without it.

During the שקלא ותריא  (flow of the sugya,) Rava suggested that the debate is dependent on whether one is allowed to make an eruv techumim for something other than a mitzva.

If one is only allowed to do so for a mitzva, then seeing as מצוות לאו להנאות נתנו (mitzvos were not given to derive benefit from,) the eruv is not considered a benefit, and it is fine. This could be the view of Rabbi Yehuda who allows placing the eruv on a grave.

In contrast, Rava explains that the Chachamim hold that one may make an eruv techumin even for דבר רשות, and that the eruv is thus considered a forbidden benefit from the grave.

It could then follow that seeing as Rava was later than Rav Yosef  (הלכה כבתראי אבל צ”ע אם נאמר כלל  זה אפילו בתלמיד נגד רבו ) , and according to him, the chachomim allowed making an eruv for a non-mitzva purpose, this could indeed be the halacha.

Further support for this could be derived from the  Mishna (Pesachim  49a. )  It rules that if someone forgot to burn his chametz on erev pesach and was on his way to make an eruv techumim for a דבר רשות  (voluntary matter,) he needs to go back and burn the chometz, and  simply doing בטול  (nullification) in his heart is not sufficient. This seems to clearly indicate that it is permitted to make an eruv techumim for a דבר רשות.

Although none other than the Or Zarua (brought by  הגאות אשרי עירובין פרק 8 אות 1)  rules leniently and permits this, he appears to be virtually alone.  Virtually all other Rishonim understand that seeing as the Gemara went out of its way to explain the dispute earlier in Eruvin even according to Rav Yosef in a way that all Tannaim agree with him, and that the final word on our daf went to Rav Yosef with no mention of any dispute, the halacha is indeed like Rav Yosef (see for example Rif, Rosh, Rambam Eruvin 6/17, Meiri)

 The above-quoted  Mishna in Pesachim will thus need to be dealt with separately, and hopefully we shall have opportunity to do so when we get there!

Several important questions remain, are discussed in the Rishonim and Poskim, but time does not allow us to go into them in this post. Among them:

1.       What is considered a mitzva regarding this rule? Does even a rabbinical mitzva count, or something that involves a קיום  (implementation) of a  mitzva if done but is not obligatory, or a mitzva that can be fulfilled in a different way?

2.        Is the above definition unique to eruv techumim, or applicable to anything that is permitted for the sake of a mitzva (for example nullifying certain types of vows or a שבות דשבות  on shabbos?)

3.       If one made an eruv techumim for a forbidden purpose, does it work בדיעבד?

4.       If one made an eruv techumim for a mitzva, may it be used for a non-mitzva related purpose as well?

5.       What about community needs and other urgent needs? Do they also have the law of a דבר מצוה  as far as this rule is concerned?

One common practical ramification of this discussion relates to taking pleasurable nature-walks outside the techum on Shabbos .

 Is the “oneg shabbos” involved in the walk enough to be considered a mitzva purpose, or could we argue that “oneg shabbos” is only a rabbinical mitzva or/and could be fulfilled in so many different ways that it does not qualify?

If such a walk does qualify, is it also considered enough of a mitzva to allow one to ask a non-Jew to perform any rabbinically forbidden task to make it possible, safe or more enjoyable (such as carrying water through a כרמלית,) under the rule of שבות דשבות לדבר מצוה?

Although most Rishonim do not seem to list this as an example of a דבר מצוה, in a response on the topic, the תרומת הדשן (responsa number 77) seems to permit it, and this is indeed the ruling of the Rema (O.C. 416/1.)

As far as the later question is concerned, given the huge amount of disagreement regarding the heter for a שבות דשבות  altogether (see posts on the subject on Eruvin 66-68,) it might be a  little more complex, but if people are already going on such a walk in hot weather and water is a necessity, there certainly seems to be room for leniency in allowing a non-Jew to bring water along or meet one along the route, so long as all other halachik requirements are fulfilled, and it is done in consultation with an expert in the laws of shabbos.

UThese 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 44 and 45 Returning from emergency travel on shabbos

A very common issue faced by emergency workers is what to do after taking someone to the hospital.

Everyone agrees that whenever there is a chance of danger to life, one may desecrate shabbos in whatever way  necessary to try and save that life.

As such, it is obvious that taking a person whose life might be in danger to the hospital is not only permitted, but obligatory.

On the other hand, once the immediate danger has passed and the person has been taken to hospital, those who took him there could land up being stuck at the hospital for the rest of shabbos, unable to drive home, or even to walk home if the hospital is not within the techum of his house, assuming walking home is even safe.

Those who do this for a living or as a labor of love on a regular basis could thus land up being almost every shabbos in a hospital reception area.

Whereas halacha is halacha, and במקום שיש חלול ה אין חולקין כבוד לרב  (in the place of Chillul Hashem, such as when a Torah prohibition is about to be broken, we do not consider a person’s honor or dignity, no matter how great he is- Brachos  19b  ,) it would obviously be very useful to find a halachik way for him to return home.

There is also the very real concern that if a halachik way to return home is not found, people will be more hesitant in cases of doubt to take people to hospital, itself causing more danger to life.

At the bottom of Eruvin 44a, the Mishna tells that anyone who leaves the techum under permitted circumstances  and while on his journey, is told that he is no longer needed,  is allowed to walk within a 2000 amah radius from where he is at the end of his mission.

This is despite the usual rule that one who has left his techum, even by force, has to stay within his 4 amos.

At the end of the Mishna, we are told that anyone who left in order to “save” may return to his original place- this seems to mean that he may travel home even more than 2000 amos.

In order to reconcile this apparent contradiction, the Gemara on 45a attempts to distinguish between leaving for regular permitted reasons, and “to save,” the later being treated even more leniently.

Though neither the Mishna nor the Gemara has yet defined what either “with permission” or “to save” means, it seems likely that “with permission” means for certain approved mitzvos, whereas “to save” means for purposes of saving lives.

Yet as examples of leaving ברשות  (with permission,) Rashi on the Mishna  lists leaving in order to testify about the new moon, saving from invading troops or from a flooding river, and a midwife coming to assist with a birth.

Whereas the first example is not a matter of life and death, and the second might be referring to saving property which is also not a matter of life and death, the third example certainly seems like it could be .

Rashi on the Gemara, however, while explaining the possible distinction, seems to consider the birth not to be a life and death matter but saving one’s property from invaders to have the potential to become one (or at least a danger of injury) , should he fail to return home and be chased by them.

As such, the permission to return home would not be because he left for permitted purposes or even life and death purposes, but because his current situation is one of life and death.

However we explain the distinction, the Gemara rejects the distinction, seeing as there is an explicit Mishna (Rosh haShana 2/5 )  that includes one who left the techum to save from troops in the list of people who may only travel 2000 amos from the place where their mission ends.

It thus concludes that there is no blanket permission even for one who left “to save” to travel more than 2000 amos to return home, and 2 different opinions are brought as to what exactly the permission is, both based on current danger and not the fact that he left due to danger.

Based on this sugya, it seems that someone who travelled outside the techum on a life-saving mission, would be permitted to walk no more than 2000 amos back..

It seems that this is despite the concern that without permission to return home, people would be reluctant to return.

If even travelling more than 2000 amos, a rabbinical prohibition, was not permitted after such a mission, it seems to go without saying based on this sugya alone, that transgressing a biblical prohibition in order to return home would not be permitted.

It is, of course, still possible, that the phrase להציל in this sugya is referring to saving property, and that one who left in order to save lives might be treated more leniently.

If this was the fact, though, the Gemara’s suggestion that “to save” should be different to other permitted reasons seems to make little sense- after all, why should saving property be more important that testifying about the new moon, something the entire calendar is dependant on, and that even breaking shabbos on a biblical level is sometimes permitted for (see Mishna  Rosh haShana   )

However, this is not the only word on the subject.

There is a debate in the  Mishna (Beitza 11b) between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel regarding whether it is permitted to open and close  shutters on Yom Tov .  Beis Shamai rule that both are forbidden whereas Beis Hillel rule that both are permitted.

Ullah explains that the Mishna is referring to the shutters of shops(assuming one is selling for yom-tov needs in a permitted way.)

He also understands that this is an example of 3 things that are permitted סופן משום תחילתן (the end because of the beginning.)

He understands  that Beis Hillel permit opening them in order to supply the Yom-Tov pilgrims, which is considered a bona fide Yom-Tov food need, and  close the windows afterwards  because if one is not permitted to close it, he might refrain from opening it.

As such, we view closing it as a permitted need of Yom-Tov too!

The other examples that Ullah brings are:

1.        putting out the skin of a freshly slaughtered animal for people to step on, thus helping to preserve it. Even though this would normally be forbidden on Yom-Tov, if we do not permit it, the owner of the animal might refrain from slaughtering it for Yom-Tov, and thus this is also considered a need of Yom-Tov

2.       A Kohain who has a bandage on his hand  and needs to remove it in order to perform the Avoda (Temple service,) may also put it back, as if we do not permit him to do so, he might refuse to remove it and the Avoda will not be done. This is thus also considered “part” of the Avoda and permitted.

What we seem to learn from these cases is that when an otherwise forbidden action is permitted for a certain essential  purpose, “undoing” that action might also be permitted if failure to permit doing so will result in the essential purpose not being fulfilled- Essentially, the “undoing” action is viewed as a need of that essential purpose as well.

It is not clear from the sugya whether these 3 (and another 2 that some in the sugya add) are meant to be the only such examples, or examples of a general rule- how such lists are generally viewed is beyond the scope of this post.

While based on the way we interpreted our sugya back in Eruvin, it is understandable why returning from a permitted journey outside the techum is not included in this list, given that there seemed to be no such blanket permission to do so, we need to understand why.

Making things more complex, Tosfos on our daf, as well as the Rashba (on the sugya in Beitza) asks why Ullah did not include this in his list, seeing as it seems clear that this is the reason for the Mishna’s leniency here, and answers that it is because in the case of the Eruv, it is so clear from the Mishna that the reason for leniency is סופן  משום תחילתן that there us no need for Ullah to mention it.

How these Rishonim  understands the conclusion of our sugya which seems to have rejected a blanket permission to return home, requires further analysis.

What is clear is that they indeed view the permission in our Mishna to return to one’s place as permission to return home, and even if they would admit that it is limited to 2000 amos, they certainly hold that the reason for the leniency is סופן משום תחילתן . It also seems that they hold that Ullah’s list is not exhaustive and that he only mentions things that we might have thought were not permitted or were permitted for other reasons.

In fact, The Ritva indeed quotes the Ramban who takes issue with this Rashba based on the conclusion of our Gemara!

Once we have established the scope of this principle and whether it applies to one who left the techum or not, we also need to examine each example given and establish whether the principle only applies to rabbinical transgressions or even  to biblical ones.

At that point, we might be closer to being able to work out whether someone who has left his home for a permitted purpose like saving a life on shabbos should be permitted to return home, and whether he may transgress only rabbinical or even biblical transgressions to do so.

As usual, much more to analyze and discuss, but hopefully this is a good start.

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 41 and 43 Landing on shabbos, Flying Elijah, and תחומין למעלה מעשר

One of the nightmares faced by the Torah observant traveler is the possibility of a flight being delayed and arriving at the destination airport on Shabbos.

While whether being on a plane per say on shabbos poises any halachik problems is a subject deserving its own discussion, once a person is already in the air, this is no longer within his control.

However, on landing, one is phased with various issues.

Some of them could be faced at the airport itself, if the entire airport is not one large private domain, or if entry forms needs to be filled in on arrival, not to mention luggage handling.

However, one of the most challenging issues is if and how one may get home or to the nearest Jewish community  from the airport.

Even if one is able to leave one’s luggage at the airport and walk, one must deal with the issue of תחומין, the main topic of our perek.

The opening Mishna of the perek taught us that if  a person left his techum (shabbos domain) on shabbos, even by force, he is not permitted to return on shabbos and is confined to the 4 amos radius he currently finds himself in, a seemingly very harsh ruling for a rabbinical prohibition.

This applies even if he is inside the techum of a house or city.

It follows that if a person left the techum that he found himself in during twilight on erev shabbos, whether the departure city or wherever he was in the air at the time, something that doesn’t take very long on  a plane, he might be required to stay within 4 amos of wherever he lands up on shabbos, and not even be able to walk within the techum he has landed in.

The rule that an enclosed area is considered like 4 amos (also discussed in our current dapim)  might allow him to walk within in the airport itself, depending on how that sugya is interpreted and concluded, but leaving the airport would be forbidden.

In truth, this is not a totally new question from the age of aviation but is tied to an old question regarding people who disembark from a ship on shabbos.

In our Gemara, Rav Chananya asks whether the laws of techumim apply more than 10 tefachim above the ground or not.

At first glance, it seems that this must have something to do with the fact that  an area more than 10 tefachim above the public domain is either a private domain (if it has the minimum width) or a מקום פטור , and walking on it is thus considered insignificant when it comes to techumim.

The Gemara immediately clarifies that a pillar that is more than 10 tefachim high and 4 tefachim wide, part of it within one’s techum and part of it outside the techum, may certainly not be used as a legal way of leaving the techum. This is because it is considered ארעא סמיכתא (solid or supporting ground,) a phrase we have seen before regarding land that slopes at a comfortable gradient for walking up  as well as the area below 3 tefachim in a public domain.

In this context, Rashi explains that because it is fit for walking on (presumably due to its flat and wide nature), walking on it is considered הלוך מעליא  (proper walking) and the laws of techumim certainly apply.

It therefore limits the question to a pillar or raised area that is less than 4 tefachim wide, which is harder to walk on , to someone jumping from inside his techum to outside it, or according to a different version,  to a boat in water more than 10 tefachim deep, which is also considered to be 10 tefachim above the ground.

It seems from this that the question about whether the laws of techumim apply above 10 tefachim or not has nothing to do with it being a private or exempt domain as opposed to a public domain or Karmelit, but rather to do with the fact that it is not an area fit for normal walking.

This requires further analysis, but moving on through the sugya, the Gemara suggests various proofs that the laws of techumim do not apply above 10 tefachim.

The first proof is from a case in our Mishna, involving a boat at sea, which the Gemara now seems to take for granted is considered to be above 10 tefachim from the ground .

The Mishna brought the case of various Tannaim who were on a boat on shabbos. Once they had left the techum, they were technically not allowed to move outside the 4-amah radius they were sitting in at the time shabbos started.

Yet Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Elazer ben Azaria walked anywhere on the boat, in keeping with their rule that an enclosed area is treated like 4 amos.

Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehoshua, who did not accept this leniency when it came to someone who left his techum on shabbos, predictably stayed within their 4 amos.

If the laws of techumim do not apply above 10 tefachim (like in a boat at sea,) their stringent action makes no sense.

As such, the Gemara wishes to conclude that the laws of techumim  do indeed apply above 10 tefachim.

This proof is rejected given the possibility that laws of techumim do not apply above 10 tefachim but they still wanted to be strict on themselves, in case they passed through shallow water which put them within 10 tefachim of the seabed.

The Gemara brings another two proofs which are both rejected, but now that we have seen that the Gemara takes the view that a boat is to be treated as being higher than 10 tefachim so long as the water it is sailing in is more than ten tefachim deep, I will proceed for now to the final attempted proof.

The Gemara brings a case where someone made an oath that he will be a nazir on the day that the son of David (Mashiach) comes.

Such a person must act like a nazir during all weekdays going forward, seeing as mashiach might have come that day  already and he is simply not yet aware of it.

However,  on shabbos or Yom Tov, he does not have to act like a Nazir.

The Gemara assumes at first that this is because Eliyahu haNavi needs to accompany him and is not permitted to travel so far out of his shabbos domain to do so- apparently even though he is able to fly (an assumption whose halachik significance needs its own discussion of course.)

It thus wishes to conclude from this that the laws of techumim indeed apply above 10 tefachim, otherwise flying such a distance would not represent a problem for him.

The Gemara refutes this proof, given that the passuk in fact tells us that Hashem will send Eliyahu “לפני בא יום ה” – BEFORE the day of Hashem comes, namely the day before.

As we were promised that Eliyahu would not come on a Friday, to avoid disturbing our busy shabbos preparations (itself quite an astonishing statement about the importance of shabbos preparations,) it follows that Mashiach will not come on a Shabbos, and he does not have to act as a nazir.

The Gemara then asks why he is not also exempt from  his vow on a Sunday- after all, seeing as Eliyahu cannot come on Shabbos because of techum issues, Mashiach cannot come on a Sunday- it wants to prove from the fact that he is not exempt on Sunday that Eliyahu could indeed come on shabbos, because there is no prohibition of techumim above 10 tefachim from the ground!

The Gemara answers that it unable to derive from this that there is definitely no issue of techumim on shabbos because it is possible that this was unsure whether techumim apply above ten tefachim or not.

Due to this uncertainty, the vower must take into the account that Eliyahu (who knows the halacha even if we don’t)  might have come on Shabbos, and thus must act as a Nazir on Sunday out of doubt.

However, that does not mean that we can prove from here that there is certainly an issue of techumim above 10 tefachim.

As such, the core question regarding whether the laws of techumim apply above 10 tefachim remains unresolved in the Gemara.

Although we are strict regarding his vow, keeping with the rule of ספק דאורייתא לחומרא , as far as the rules of eruvin themselves are concerned, it follows that we might apply the general rule that in matters of doubt ספר עירוב לקולא .

Assuming that this rule in turn is a derivation of the general rule of ספק דאורייתא לחומרא (something we touched on briefly in an earlier post but that requires further analysis,) it would then follow according to the opinions that תחומין   are biblical after 4 parsa (about 16 km) ,  this leniency might not apply if he has travelled more than that amount since twilight on erev shabbos, an almost certainty with air travel. (see however Ramban, who raised and rejects this distinction.)

Putting the above concern aside, it follows that where prohibitions of techumim are involved, we might be lenient and someone who has travelled through the air, like one who has travelled through the sea, has not transgressed any techum related prohibitions and is thus not subject to the 4 amos restriction.

However, it is still not so simple.

Besides for the question of the larger biblical techum, there is also the question of when and where his shabbos base is determined to be.

After all, if there are no techumim above 10 tefachim, and he was at sea or in the air during the critical twilight period of erev shabbos, he had no techum to become his shabbos base at that time, and it could be argued that he thus has NO shabbos base other than his own 4 amos.

If this were true, then even if disembarking were permitted, and even if he were to be allowed to enter the terminal building,  he would not be allowed to leave the port or the airport on shabbos!

The Ramban notes that he has seen many who have the custom to indeed stay in port under such circumstances.

He suggests that this might be based on the Raavad who understands the Gemara as concluding that we are strict out of doubt regarding techumim above 10 tefachim, not only regarding the vow, but also regarding the laws of Eruvin, an exception to the general rule of ספק עירוב לקולא.

He rejects this view out of hand, and then suggests that it might be due to the above concern regarding him not having any shabbos base at all.

Bringing various sugyos and Rishonim as support, he concludes that this is not a concern, and that in the  absence of a person’s shabbos base being defined during twilight, it is defined as the first valid techum he enters on shabbos itself, in this case the port or city he has arrived in .

Given that, he could technically walk as far as anywhere within the city and within a 2000 amah radius of it.

This would obviously only apply if the port, the parts of the city he walks through, and his home  are halachically considered within the same city (with gaps of less than about 140 amos between the houses or enclosed property’s walls,) something that might apply in city airports but not in many international airports that serve large cities but are situated outside the halachik city  boundaries itself.

Furthermore, unlike a boat which sails in the water till the moment it reaches port, a plane reaches 10 tefachim of the ground just before landing, far away from the airport terminal on a long runway ( a point I saw was raised by Rabbi Daniel Dombroff of New Jersey in a brief online post on the subject.)

Even with the Ramban’s reasoning,  his first valid shabbos base would then be by the landing site, which is unlikely to be in an area that is מוקף לדירה  (surrounded for purposes of dwelling) and is almost certainly in an area larger than a בית סאתיים  (5000 squares amos or about 500 square metres,) and unlikely to be within the techum of the city (though once we square the city and its 2000 amos to define its effective techum, the later is certainly still possible.)

As such, he would only have 2000 amos from that point, and it is likely that by the time he gets to the terminal building, he will have already left his techum and thus at best, be confined to the terminal, and at worst be confined to the 4 amos he is dropped off in.

This seems to be the  basis of common practise to avoid leaving the terminal building, even if the terminal is within the techum of his city.

However, I see some theoretical reasoning for being lenient regarding walking from an airport too, when the terminal is within the city’s techum, in a similar way that the Ramban was lenient in allowing one to walk home from the seaport so long as the port is within the techum of the city.

This is because the plane itself is more than 10 tefachim above the ground, even once it has landed.

Even though some opinions are stringent with a wagon, considering it to be ארעא סמיכתא , a plane while taxiing is very different to a wagon for various reasons, among them:

i.                     It is in a state of continuous and forced motion and cannot simply stop when it wants.

ii.                   It is not only difficult, but both dangerous and forbidden to walk around on it during the taxi stage. (I was interested to see that in a different context, for this and other reasons, מראה הבזק חלק ה brings reasons for leniency even in a wagon or high motorcar)

As such, there is a strong case that his first viable shabbos base to be encountered is not the point at which the plane lands, but at the point where the plane stops, which is far more likely to be within 2000 amos of the terminal or even within the techum of the city.

This is obviously far simpler when an airbridge is used, rather than a bus system, given that there are bona fide partitions around the whole area he will be walking through.

In practise, due to the extreme complexity of this question and the many variables which can change the halacha, it indeed seems hard to be lenient and allow one to leave the terminal building.

It goes without saying that one should do one’s absolute best to ensure a good safety net of time between anticipated landing and shabbos to allow not only for usual arrival procedures and travelling home, but for a reasonably normal delay, and if it is clear that one will land after shabbos once on the plane, to request permission to disembark before take-off.

However given that this is a common issue, perhaps Jewish communities could be encouraged to  get an eruv expert to map the techum of their city and establish whether their airport is indeed within its techum, in which case local halachik authorities  could rule that  in cases where staying at the airport over shabbos is an extreme destruction of one’s Oneg shabbos and/or involves serious discomfort, walking home or to a community center or member’s home might be a valid option.

Though I have not researched the geography of Moscow, it could be that based on the below link,this is precisely what Russia’s Chief Rabbi once did!


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.