Eruvin 39 and 40 Rosh haShana Matters, the interconnectivity of Torah and ערוב על תנאי

We have mentioned many times this year how regular Torah study so often seems incredibly relevant to the events of the day.

This year, around Shavuos on the daf cycle, Maseches Shabbos took a break from the complexities of the laws of shabbos and focused on the giving of the Torah.

Around 9 Av, the daf seemed to take another diversion and focus on the destruction, and true to form, the past two days, it has morphed from discussion of conditional Eruvin and ברירה  to various matters relating to Rosh haShana.

As someone who often tends more towards the Rambam’s natural approach to every-day events (for a different post), it is still impossible not to see the angle of the Ramban who see’s miracles at work in every asset of life.

I have not done a statistical study on how significant this is, or of previous years of the daf cycles, nor do I intend to- I feel that  such things are and are meant to be subtle, and non-scientific- yet at the very least, we can appreciate through them the unimaginable inter-connectivity of everything in the Torah, to the point that there is always something relevant to our situation in whatever we learn, and that very often, it is so striking that one cannot ignore it.

The nature of today is such that an analytical  study of the daf is even more challenging than usual, but let us at least try to mention some of the Rosh haShana related issues here on these daf of Eruvin:

We have already discussed when and how it is possible to make various conditions regarding an Eruv.

One might also be able to set one Eruv for the first day of Yom Tov, and another for the second, according to the view that the two days of Yom-Tov are considered two separate holy entities, and are not dependant on one another.

This generally accepted view is based on the fact that originally, two days of Yom Tov were kept in the diaspora out of doubt as to which day was really Yom-Tov.

This is because the calendar was based on witnesses testifying to the new-moon having been sighted, and once the Beis Din (court) in Yerushalayim had declared which of the two possible days was Rosh Chodesh, messengers had to be sent to the entire Israel and diaspora to inform them.

Even though the chagim were generally late enough in the month for the messengers to reach the inhabitants of Israel (roughly speaking at least), much of the diaspora was too far, and they would often be unaware of which of the two days was really Yom-Tov.

Given that Rosh haShana is at the beginning of the month, it sometimes happened that messengers did  not reach the Beis-Din in Yerushalayim on time to know for sure which of the two days would be Rosh-haShana.  In such a case, they kept the 30’th of Elul as if it is the 1’st of Tishrei.

If the messengers came later after the cut-off point, the first day remained holy, and the next day was also kept as Rosh haShana.

In such a case, not only were 2 days of Rosh haShana thus kept even in Israel, they were treated as if both were definitely Yom-Tov, as “one long day” all of which was holy, and this how the 2 days of Rosh haShana are viewed today.

Though the Mishna on 39a records some dispute about this, the halacha follows this view and we do not  rely on conditional or split Eruvin for Rosh-haShana, or on other leniencies based on  the fact that both days Yom-Tov are treated as a doubt.

There is also a debate regarding whether the davening of Rosh haShana needs to include a special mention of Rosh-Chodesh or not, and according to that view, whether one may make a conditional declaration on each day.

The former issue is discussed in detail on 40a  and as explained by Rashi, depends on whether the reference to זכרון תרועה  (memory of the Shofar) that refers to Rosh haShana also incorporates Rosh Chodesh, which is also referred to as a זכרון (memory.)

The Gemara concludes on 40b that Rosh Chodesh does not get a special mention on Rosh haShana.

Another fascinating discussion on 40b revolves around whether the bracha “Shehecheyanu”, also referred to by Chazal as “זמן”  (time) is to be said on Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur.

On the one hand, it is not one of the three festivals referred to as a רגל, and perhaps does not qualify as enough of a (special) זמן   to warrant the bracha.

On the other hand, it does come מזמן לזמן, on a regular basis, so the phrase לזמן הזה  does apply.

In truth, both of these arguments seem to miss the point- Can one really think that the greatest days of the year, the days of judgement and atonement, are in any way less special, in any way less of a “זמן”  than the other festivals? There is indeed a discussion as to whether there is a mitzva of simcha (rejoicing) on these days, but since when is the bracha Shehecheyanu dependent on rejoicing?

On the other hand, are we to assume that the only reason to say such a bracha on such an incredible day is because it is an annual event? If it only happened once in history, would it not merit such a bracha? Do once off incredible events in one’s life or those of the nation not also merit a bracha that thanks Hashem for bringing us to such a time?

There are obviously certain assumptions that Chazal had about the purpose and scope of this bracha which we have not taken into account in this question, and hopefully, as we encounter more sugyot that discuss it, we shall succeed in identifying and understanding these better.

 כתיבה וחתימה טובה  

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.

Law versus Spirit? Rosh haShana/Yom Kippur during or (hopefully) after Corona peak.

As the real fear of having to spend the Yamim Noraim davening in small minyanim at shul ( for the lucky ones), in street minyanim in the extreme Israel heat, or at home seems more and more likely , I suggested yesterday to my wife that our street minyanim should be held early in the morning without the piyutim , Gra style.

For those unaware, the original Talmudic version of the Rosh haShana davening and in particular, chazan’s
Repetition, was much shorter than ours, and other than having 3 extended middle brachot rather than the shorter middle bracha of a regular shabbos and Yom Tov, shofar on Rosh haShana and Vidui on Yom Kippur, was pretty similar to a normal chag.

Over the years, and rather controversially at first, many additional piyutim ( poems) were added by great people and the introductory piece מסוד was written to ask permission to deviate from the normal prohibition against adding to the Amida before saying these piyutim .

These piyutim became an essential part of the traditional davening for most of us, to the point that so many of them, like Unetaneh Tokef and Vechol Maaminim, have come to represent the essence of these special days to us .

Yet As recently as the Vilna Gaon, there were authorities that refused to accept these novelties in the body of the amida and simply left them out, and although the mainstream halachik view has accepted and even encouraged their inclusion, it is clear that they do not have the same halachik status as the original 9 brachos themselves , or the mitzvot of the day such as reading the Torah, shofar ( on Rosh haShana), and Vidui on Yom Kippur.

As such, i figured that given the difficulty and possible danger of being outdoors in the sun for 7 hours in the extreme heat , this year could possibly be a year for all of us being “Gra’niks” , doing the essentials together early while the heat is still relatively bearable, and spending the rest of the day saying/singing piyutim with our families and learning.

Of course, I would never make such a decision on my own, and noone would listen to me anyway, but
I just saw a post by Rav Ysoscher Katz drawing attention to a ruling by Rav Schachter below , who uses similar, though admittedly not the same logic, to suggest that shuls that are limited to a maximum number of people hold multiple short minyanim without the piyutim.

In a perhaps typical litvak/chasid debate, Rabbi Katz takes issue with this, on the basis that pure halachik considerations are not the only factor here, but the spirit of the day is equally important, and the damage done to that by such a drastic action, is not worth it- he says he would rather do everything in his home with the family in the absence of the minyan.

Rav Schachters ruling is based on allowing more people to be able to daven with a minyan in shul, and not on allowing minyanim that are already in the street to be shorter and more barable in the heat, and it is unclear whether he would view the comfort factor in the same light.

Yet the extreme heat we experience in Israel during this time of year is not simply a mild discomfort, but can cause extreme suffering, certainly not in line with the simchas Yom Tov which is required on Rosh haShana , as well as sunburn ( where there are not sufficient shady solutions), and dehydration, and can even be dangerous.

On Yom Kippur while fasting, this is even more the case .

As for Rav Katz’s considerations , i tend to believe that the compromise solution of saying piyutim with the family later can allow us to fulfill both minimal halachik and spiritual requirements, if indeed there is a clash here, a discussion I shall avoid for purposes of this post .

Would love to hear thoughts on this .