Eruvin 69-71  The Lomdus of “Bittul Reshus”

Eruvin 69-71  The Lomdus of “Bittul Reshus”

The main theme of this daf relates to the concept of  בטול רשות  and how and when it applies.
We have mentioned before that the mechanism of choice for multiple inhabitants of one courtyard is to make an עירוב חצרות  whereby food is set aside on behalf of everyone in one of the houses, symbolically “joining” them all into residents of the same domain.
This is of course a symbolic mechanism which does not in any way affect the actual ownership of the houses and shared courtyards, and serves merely as a reminder not to carry from a private domain to a public domain proper- something Chazal were concerned enough about to prohibit carrying from one private domain to another owned by different people in the absence of such an eruv.
This eruv can only be done before Shabbos, as doing it on Shabbos resembles מקח וממכר  (commercial activity.)
If one or more of the inhabitants did not participate in the eruv before shabbos, the eruv is essentially ineffective.
This is because although all those who participate in the eruv are considered as if they share each other’s houses as well as their share in the common courtyard, the courtyard is also owned by those who did not participate, and therefore subject to different ownership than the houses of the participants.
This means that no one can transfer items between their houses and the common courtyard or vice versa.
One solution available is the mechanism of בטול רשות , also referred to in the Mishna as נתינת רשות .
The relationship between these two phrases requires analysis in its own right-for one approach, see Rambam Pirush haMishnayos Eruvin 6/1, 6/3 and 6/4 who seems to understand that נתינת רשות sometimes refers to making the eruv and sometimes refers to בטול רשות.
Whereas the phrase בטול רשות  seems to indicate a one-way mechanism by which the owner removes himself from ownership, control, or some other connection to his share in the courtyard (or possibly also his house,) the phrase נתינת רשות seems to indicate a two-way mechanism similar to a gift where the owner “gives over” one of the above at least symbolically to the other inhabitants.
There is a debate between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel as to whether this may be done on shabbos, and the Gemara explains that Beis Shamai view בטול  as a form of two-way transaction whereby the non-participants  give over their “authority” over the courtyard to the participants, effectively leaving the courtyard owned in its entirety by the participants and making the eruv effective.
Seeing as such transactions are forbidden on shabbos, it may not be performed on shabbos.
In contrast, Beis Hillel view this as simply  סלוק (removing oneself from authority), a one-way mechanism that achieves the goal of making the courtyard owned solely by the participants due to his share being irrelevant, rather than owned by them.
Such an arrangement is permitted on shabbos, and at first glance, it might appear to be a form of הפקר- declaring one’s property to be ownerless- once his share of the courtyard is ownerless, the others remain its sole owners and their eruv is valid/
However, there are limitations that apply to the rules of הפקר  that do not seem to apply here.
For example:
i.                    Hefker needs to be declared in front of three people )Nedarim 45a), yet one person can be מבטל רשות to 2 people, and there is no indication here that someone else needs to be present (Tosfos deals with this issue in Pesachim 4b)
ii.                  According to the view that one needs to be מבטל רשות to each one of the people who were included in the eruv, simply making one’s share הפקר is clearly not enough
iii.                Hefker removes all legal connection between oneself and the object, to the point that anyone else can perform a קנין  (transactional act) on it and acquire it. In addition, the person who declared it הפקר  would need to perform an official קנין  in order to reaquire it- doing so in one’s mind would not do the trick. In this case, there does not appear to be any ability on the part of those who benefit from this בטול to take legal ownership of the property, but the benefit is limited to symbolic permission to carry within the area “as if” they owned it. Furthermore, it does not seem that a legally valid קנין needs to be made by the original owner in order to cancel this בטול.
iv.                It is not at all clear that declaring something הפקר  on shabbos is permitted, as the Ramban points out (Pesachim 4a)- it could be included in the general prohibition of commerce.
The concept of בטול  can be found in various other areas of halacha, for example:
1.      בטול חמץ  – one is required to declare any chametz left in one’s possession before midday on erev pesach “nullified like the dust of the earth.”
According to Rashi (Pesachim 4b,) this seems to be a way of fulfilling the mitzva of תשביתו  (removing chametz from one’s possession) and Tosfos seem to understand that it is a form of הפקר that creates a situation where that mitzva is simply not relevant anymore
2.      בטול ע”ז – an item of idolatry may become permitted if it is nullified by the idol-worshipper- this can done by breaking part of it, possibly a sign of its lack of importance to the owner (see A.Z. 52b.)
Though all 3 usages of this phrase seem to share in common the idea that one is declaring or showing that the item is no longer of importance to him, there is no need to assume that the “lomdus” (logical mechanism) in all three is similar. It is very possible that בטול חמץ  is a real form of הפקר  which בטול עבודה זרה  is certainly not, and that בטול רשות  is something completely different.
After all the phrase בטול  is also used regarding  בטול תורה  (wasting time when Torah could have been studied,) בטול עשה and   (avoiding performing a positive mitzva,)  בטול and none of them have anything to do with הפקר or ownership.
More specifically, whereas בטול חמץ  and בטול עבודה זרה  seem to work on a biblical level to avoid the prohibitions of owning chametz on pesach or an item of idolatry, בטול רשות  is a rabbinical measure which might simply be meant to have a similar symbolic effect  to that of the eruv.
However, there are views in the Rishonim, principally that of the Ramban (Pesachim 4b,) who  seem (at least a first glance) to assume that all three work on a similar mechanism and thus attempt to leave הפקר  out of the discussion altogether.
Although a thorough analysis of the various views as to how these different instances of בטול  work is still required, it is clear that whatever explanation is offered will need to pass the test of the different rules Chazal prescribed for each of them, in the absence of some other “external” explanation for the rule in question. The topic is vast- I have barely scratched the surface of the many sugyas and mefarshim that relate to the topic.
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 66 בטול ושכירת רשות  on Shabbos and more special eruv leniencies

At the bottom of Eruvin 65b,  a case is brought where 3 sages of the transition/early Amoraic period, Rabbi Chanina bar Yosef, Rabbi Chiya bar Aba, and Rabbi Assi spent shabbos at an inn owned by a non-Jew.
The owner was not present before shabbos for them to hire his “reshus” from him, and according to the view of Rabbi Yehuda that if the non-Jewish resident/owner is not present over shabbos, he forms no barrier to the eruv, they could have made an eruv before shabbos without him, but even if they did, now that he was back, it was no longer valid, and  they asked each other whether  this שכירת רשות  could be performed on shabbos. (there is some debate amongst the Rishonim as to whether they did indeed make an eruv before shabbos and whether they held like Rabbi Yehuda or not.)
The basis of their uncertainty was whether שכירת רשות  is forbidden on shabbos just like making the actual eruv is, or whether it is permitted like בטול רשות  is according to Beis Hillel (see Mishna on Eruvin 69b and Gemara on it)
It seems to me  that the basis of their uncertainty could be as follows.
On the one hand, it could be a form of transaction which effectively gives them control of the space, and is thus included in the prohibition of מקח וממכר  (commerce) on shabbos, just like the actual ערוב חצירות  process is, and like Beis Shamai also view בטול רשות  ( as explained by the Gemara on Eruvin 71a)
On the other hand, it could be simply a form of סלוקי רשות, (removing one’s own rights to the object) like how Beis Hillel view בטול רשות (see also Eruvin 71a) and thus permitted.
A deeper analysis of the conceptual mechanisms by which the above processes work is needed, particularly regarding how שכירות  can possibly resemble מחילה  and just be considered as סלוקי רשות  when the renter clearly seems to be an active part of the process- it certainly seems from this that we are not dealing with a real rental, but some form of symbolic rental with its own set of laws (see Meiri who makes this point.)
For our purposes, we shall note that Rabbi Chanina bar Yosef was in favor of going ahead with the שכירות, Rabbi Assi was against it, and Rabbi Chiya bar Aba suggested that they follow the lenient view of the “elder” Rabbi Chanina bar Yosef and go ahead.
After the event, they asked Rabbi Yochanan about this, and he praised their actions.
This attracted the surprise of Nehardai, given that Rabbi Yochanan had ruled previously that שוכר כמערב דמי  (the one who performs this שכירות רשות  is subject to the laws of one who makes the eruv,) and going by that, he should have been against their lenient treatment of שכירות רשות  as בטול רשות  that permitted it on shabbos.
The Gemara responds that in keeping with the general rule that most principles of eruvin are said to produce leniencies and not stringencies (see Rashi), Rabbi Yochanan’s application of the law of the מערב  (eruv maker) to the שוכר  (renter) only extends to the leniencies of the מערב  and not its stringencies, such as being valid with less than the value of a פרוטה  and the other leniencies listed on the daf.
This could be because Chazal treated  שכירות רשות  as a form of hybrid mechanism which takes on the leniencies of both עירוב  and בטול רשות  and neither of their unique stringencies- alternatively Rabbi Yochanan could have simply been unsure as to which mechanism it follows and ruled leniently either way.
This seems  to be yet another example of how lenient Chazal were with the requirements of Eruvin, even above their normal leniencies applied to all rabbinic laws. We saw this earlier  regarding the rule of הלכה כדברי המקיל בערוב  in that even a minority lenient opinion might be followed in an unsettled dispute (see posts on Eruvin 46 and 47.)

Usually we are not entitled to be lenient in rabbinic matters in two different ways that create  a paradox or situation of תרתי דסתרי .
For example, one may be lenient and daven Mincha after plag hamincha in accordance with Rabbi Yehuda or choose to be lenient and daven Maariv straight after plag hamincha before nightfall in accordance with the Chachamim (see Brachos 27a,) but one may not follow both leniencies and daven both Mincha and Maariv during the time between plag and nightfall.
One must choose whether to treat that time as night or day but cannot treat it as both on the same day, and certainly does not treat it as a hybrid.
Yet, in our case, we are not forced to choose whether to treat the שכירת רשות  process leniently like מערב  regarding using less than a  שוה פרוטה  or treating the שכירת רשות  process leniently like בטול רשות  and permitting it on shabbos- rather  we are able to treat it leniently like both, despite is seeming logically paradoxical.
This is no small thing, and further analysis is required to assess if the above comparison is indeed accurate, as well as the scope of this leniency (for example, does it also apply to other instances of שכירות  on shabbos), but that’s some food for thought for now.
These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.