Talmud

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Pesaḥim 9a-b: When a Marten Hides Bread Before Pesah
30/11/2020 - 14th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on our daf teaches that one need not be concerned that a hulda dragged hametz into your house or from one place to another within the house. Rashi explains the Mishna to be discussing whether we need to be concerned about a hulda bringing hametz into a place that had already been checked. The Rambam seems to understand the case otherwise. According to him, this Mishna is the continuation of the first Mishna in the tractate, which obligates bedika (searching) only in places where hametz is normally brought. Here we are taught that we need not be concerned that perhaps an animal brought hametz into such a place. The Gemara points out that the Mishna's rule will only apply if we do not see the hulda running into the house with hametz. Were we to see the hulda doing that, we would, in fact, insist that the house be checked a second time, and we cannot assume that the hulda ate the hametz that he carried in. The Gemara asks whether the requirement to carefully store hametz that is meant to be eaten on the morning of the 14th of Nisan so that a further bedika will not need to be done does not indicate that we are concerned that a hulda may move it around. In response to this question the Gemara quotes an interesting exchange between Abaye and Rava.
Abaye said: This is not difficult; this ruling is referring to the fourteenth of Nisan, whereas that ruling is referring to the thirteenth. The Gemara elaborates: On the thirteenth of Nisan, when bread is still found in every house, the marten does not conceal the leaven, and therefore there is no concern that perhaps the marten dragged the leaven elsewhere and concealed it. However, on the fourteenth of Nisan, when bread is not found in any of the houses, the marten hides the leaven. Rava said in surprise: And is the marten a prophetess [v'khee hulda nevi'ah] that knows that now is the fourteenth of Nisan and no one will bake until the evening, and it leaves over bread and conceals it in its hole? Rather, Rava rejected Abaye's answer and said: With regard to the leaven that one leaves after the search, he should place it in a concealed location, lest a marten take it before us and it will require searching after it. Only if one actually sees the marten take the leaven, is he required to search after it.
In his response to Abaye, Rava is using a play on words. There is, in fact, a prophetess in Tanakh by the name of Hulda ha-Nevi'ah – see II Melakhim 22:14. More importantly, his argument seems to make so much sense that it is difficult to understand what Abaye was trying to say. Rav Ya'akov Emden explains that according to Abaye the marten is sensitive to the fact that there is less food in the house on erev Pesah than there is under normal circumstances, and begins to hoard bread. This appears to be the explanation of the Jerusalem Talmud, as well.
Pesaḥim 8a-b: Searching for Leaven in Dangerous Places
29/11/2020 - 13th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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It was taught in the Tosefta: The Sages do not require one to place his hand into holes and crevices to search for leaven, due to the danger involved.
While the Gemara makes a number of suggestions regarding what the danger might be that lurks in holes between houses, what concerns the Gemara is how this fits with Rabbi Elazar's teaching sheluhei mitzvah einum nizokim – that people involved in performing commandments are protected from danger. Rav Ashi suggests that we may be concerned that aside from searching for hametz, perhaps the person will also turn his attention to find other missing objects during the search, and will not be actively involved in the mitzva at all times. The Gemara responds to this by arguing that even someone who has outside intentions beyond performing a mitzva will be credited for the mitzva if it is done. An example of this is taught in a baraita that rules that someone who gives charity and states that he is giving it in the hope that he will gain a share in the World-to-Come or that his sick child will recover is, nevertheless, considered a tzaddik gamur – a completely righteous person. The Gemara concludes that the rule that people involved in performing commandments are protected from danger only applies when danger cannot be anticipated. In a situation that is clearly dangerous we cannot apply that rule. With regard to the man who gives charity with the expectation that he will derive some personal benefit from it, who the baraita says is a tzaddik gamur, the Ran points out that he might be considered righteous, but he would not be considered a hassid – a pious person. Some say that the only case where we can ignore the intent of the person doing the mitzva will be in the case of charity, where the recipient derives benefit from the assistance even if the intention of the giver was wrong. The Aruk has a variant reading in the Gemara, according to which the baraita does not label the man a tzaddik gamur, rather it rules that the donation was tzeddaka gemura – full fledged charity, without any character judgment about the person who made the donation.
Pesaḥim 7a-b: The Blessing on Searching for Hametz
28/11/2020 - 12th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Rav Yehuda teaches that a berakha is said prior to performing the act of searching for the hametz. Since Jews have been reciting this berakha for generations, Rav Yehuda's ruling hardly comes as a surprise. Nevertheless it is an important statement, as one could argue that the search is merely preparation for destroying the hametz, or even that the actual mitzva is that no hametz should be found in one's house, so even destroying the hametz is simply preparation for that. The Rosh says that Rav Yehuda is teaching a valuable lesson – that the bedika (search) is an essential part of the mitzva of bi'ur (burning), so the berakha should be recited on it. According to the Maharam Halava, the Biblical obligation is the search for hametz; destroying the hametz is only a Rabbinic decree. There are two different opinions about the version of the blessing that is said. The blessing begins with the traditional introductory words "Blessed are you, Hashem, our God, King of the world, who has commanded us…" Rav Pappi quotes Rava as requiring one to conclude with the words leva'er hametz – to remove leavened bread. Rav Pappa quotes Rava as requiring that one say at the end al bi'ur hametz – concerning the removal of leavened bread. The Gemara concludes that the berakha that should be made is al bi'ur hametz. Based on the discussion in our Gemara, the rishonim attempt to find general rules that would reliably indicate when the berakha that precedes the act of performing a mitzva should be said as la'asot - an expression that we are commanded "to do" the mitzva and when we should say al mitzvat that we are commanded "on the mitzva of…" According to Rabbenu Tam, it depends how quickly the mitzva will be performed. When the mitzva is done immediately after the berakha we say al mitzvat; if there will be a gap between the berakha and the mitzva we say la'asot. According to the Ramban, a mitzva that can be done via a messenger gets the al mitzvat blessing; when a mitzva must be done by the individual, he says la'asot. Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that a mitzva that is done once is blessed as la'asot, while a mitzva that will be done many times receives the al mitzvat blessing.
Pesaḥim 6a-b: Nullifying the Hametz
27/11/2020 - 11th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as teaching that even after a person searches his house to remove the hametz, he needs to be mevatel – to nullify - the hametz, as well.
Rava said: The reason for the requirement to render leaven null and void is based on a decree lest he find a fine cake [geluska] among the leaven that he did not destroy and his thoughts are upon it. Due to its significance, he will hesitate before removing it and will be in violation of the prohibition against owning leaven.
According to some manuscripts, Rav Yehuda's original ruling obligates a person to nullify the hametz be-libo – in his heart. Based on this reading the Ran and the Ramban explain that the main issue here is that a clear mental decision should be made that the hametz is valueless to the person as Pesah begins. The Ritva indicates that even if there is no obligation to make a statement out loud, ideally the person should say the words of nullification. Others argue that the Gemara is trying to emphasize that someone who says the formula of nullification should make sure that he means it in his heart, as well. The Ran points out that on a Biblical level, searching for hametz and destroying it is enough preparation for the holiday, and even if some hametz is left, there would be no transgression. Rava's explanation that we fear finding hametz that had been missed accounts for the Rabbinic concern about places where hametz is not ordinarily brought, places where there is no obligation to search at all. The Ramban is quoted as saying that the nullification discussed here does not mean to declare the hametz hefker – ownerless – rather it is a statement that for the upcoming holiday hametz is considered something that is repulsive to him. According to Jewish tradition, we recite the formula for nullifying the hametz that appears printed in haggadot. This Aramaic formula is derived from the Geonim, who translated it from a Hebrew version that appears in the Jerusalem Talmud. Given what we have learned, it is important to make sure that the text is not simply read, but its meaning is understood and accepted..
Pesaḥim 5a-b: When and How Does One Destroy One’s Leaven?
26/11/2020 - 10th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The search for hametz takes place the evening prior to the 14th of Nisan, but one is allowed to continue eating hametz until mid-day. The Gemara teaches that hametz is Biblically forbidden beginning at noon on that day. A baraita is brought that suggests a number of different opinions regarding the source for this halakha, all based on the passage (Shemot 12:15) akh ba-yom ha-rishon tashbitu se'or mibataikhem – "but on the first day you should destroy the leaven from your homes." Rabbi Yishmael asks – how do we know that the "first day" mentioned in the pasuk refers to the day before Pesah? Because of the passage (Shemot 34:25) that teaches "do not slaughter the blood of my sacrifice on leaven" meaning that the korban Pesah, which is prepared on erev Pesah, cannot be brought at a time when leaven is still permitted. Rabbi Akiva teaches that the first day must mean erev Pesah, because work is forbidden on Yom Tov as it is on Shabbat. Given that burning is one of the forbidden activities, how can we burn leaven on Yom Tov? So the command to destroy hametz on the first day must refer to the day before Pesah. Rabbi Yose argues that the word Akh in the pasuk implies a division of the day, so that only on part of it will hametz be forbidden. Rava learns three basic rules from Rabbi Akiva's teaching – the appropriate method for destroying hametz is burning the passage that teaches about fire as prohibited on Shabbat emphasizes that every forbidden activity of Shabbat is illegal in its own right although making use of fire on Yom Tov is permitted for activities like cooking, it is not permitted for other purposes. Of the 39 types of activities that are forbidden on Shabbat, burning (i.e. making use of fire) is unique in that it is the only one specifically mentioned in the Torah. At the beginning of Parashat Vayakhel we are taught "Six days you should work and on the seventh day you will have a holy Shabbat to God, whoever works on that day will be put to death. You should not kindle fire in the places that you live on the Shabbat day." In an attempt to explain why this particular melakha deserves special mention, some tannaim say that it is unique in that its punishment will only be that of a lav – a simple forbidden act – whose punishment is malkot (=lashes), rather than a death penalty. Rabbi Akiva in the baraita that is quoted in our Gemara takes a different position. According to him it is separated from the others in order to teach that each one of the melakhot is forbidden on its own, so that the individual who transgresses the Shabbat does not need to perform all of the forbidden activities in order to be held liable. Transgressing even one such activity is enough to be punished.
Pesaḥim 4a-b: Does a Renter Need to Search for Hametz?
25/11/2020 - 9th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Who is obligated to search their home for hametz? Obviously every homeowner is obligated to make sure that his house is free of hametz by searching for it. The Gemara on our daf asks about the case of a rental – is the renter obligated to search because the hametz belongs to him, or is the owner obligated to search because the hametz is in a house owned by him? The Ran points out that in such a case, on a Biblical level, most probably neither of them are obligated to search. The renter is not obligated, since he does not own the house; the owner is not obligated, since the hametz does not belong to him. Nevertheless, the Gemara is asking on a Rabbinic level – who is obligated to search? The Gemara concludes that if the keys were in the hand of the renter before the evening of the 14th of Nisan, then he is obligated to search. If he only gains access to the property after that time, then the obligation to search falls upon the owner. How about a case where someone rents a house on the 14th under the assumption that it has already been searched for hametz, only to find that it has not been searched? Can the renter claim that the transaction was a mekah ta'ut – a transaction made under false impression that would allow him to cancel the agreement?
The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a resolution to this dilemma, as Abaye said: Needless to say, that in a place where people typically do not pay a wage and hire others to conduct the search for leaven and everyone searches himself, a person prefers to fulfill the mitzva himself. However, even in a place where people pay a wage and have others search for leaven, it is not a mistaken transaction due to the fact that a person prefers to perform the mitzva with his own money. Consequently, it is not considered a mistaken transaction, as a person does not object to having to perform a mitzva.
The Ritva argues that if, in fact, people usually pay for bedika (searching) to be done, and in this case the renter entered the deal under the impression that it was already paid for, the renter will be able to demand his money back from the owner of the house. The Ran disagrees, saying that although the mitzva originally was the obligation of the owner, since it is the renter who benefits from it while the owner derives nothing from the removal of the hametz, he cannot be forced to pay for it.
Pesaḥim 3a-b: Being Careful With One's Words
24/11/2020 - 8th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As noted on the last daf, the Mishna that opens Massekhet Pesahim begins with the word ohr, which is used to mean "the evening of," even though that definition is an unusual one. The Gemara suggests that this term was chosen, rather than simply using leil – "the night of," because it is lashon me'alia – "a higher level form of speech." The attempt to raise the level of sensitivity to word usage is supported by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi's teaching that a person should always be careful to keep from saying something inappropriate. This is supported by a number of passages from the Tanakh, all of which prefer to speak in a cumbersome manner, rather than using a simple, direct word that conveys negative ideas. As an example of this, Rav Aha bar Ya'akov points to the passage where King Shaul wonders why David did not appear for the Rosh Hodesh meal (I Shmuel 20:26). Rather than saying "perhaps he was tameh," the passage records him saying "perhaps something happened to him and it turned out that he was lo tahor" – that he was not pure, rather than defiled. As is commonplace in the Gemara, the technical ruling is followed by a number of illustrations:
There were these three priests in the Temple, each of whom received a portion of the showbread divided among the priests. Since there were many priests, each one received only a small amount. One said to them: I received a bean-sized portion. And one said: I received an olive-bulk. And one said: I received a portion the size of a lizard’s tail. They investigated the background of the latter priest, who used the imagery of an impure creeping animal, and they found a trace [shemetz] of disqualification in his background.
Upon hearing the expression that the third kohen used, referring to an unclean animal, the authorities checked his background information and discovered that he should not have been participating in the service. Aside from the Gemara's issue with the use of this term, it is interesting to examine where such an expression would come from. The choice of "a lizard's tail" as an independent measure of size stems from the fact that oftentimes a lizard will shed his tail if it is caught and will grow another one. Since a typical desert-dwelling lizard is a small creature, a volume the size of its tail would be a very small amount.
Pesaḥim 2a-b: When Ohr Means Everything
23/11/2020 - 7th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The first Mishna in Massekhet Pesahim teaches about the law that requires bedikah - a search for leaven - on the night of erev Pesah, the 14th of Nisan. The expression used by the Mishna in teaching this law is, "Ohr le-arba-ah asar bodkin et he-hametz le-ohr ha-ner", which is translated as, "On the night of the 14th we search for leaven by the light of a candle." The difficulty with this is that the first word - ohr - appears to mean "the evening of" even though it usually means "light" (as, in fact, it does at the end of the Mishna's teaching - le-ohr ha-ner, "the light of a candle"). Explaining how the word or comes to mean "the evening of" is such a difficult question that the entire first daf of Massekhet Pesahim is dedicated to this one issue. So many different explanations are given that the rishonim ask why the Gemara continues to quote other proofs that or really can mean "the evening before," even after convincing arguments have been brought. The Rashba is quoted as saying that as an obvious question, the issue was raised in all of the yeshivot where this Mishna was studied. When the Gemara was edited, the various answers were all collected and put together. In his commentary to the Mishna, Maimonides points out that Rabbi Yehuda haNasi who edited the mishnayot chose an obscure word to open the massekhet because he preferred to make use of a positive word at the beginning of the tractate, rather than a word that carries with it connotations of darkness. As we will see, this explanation is given by the Gemara later on. As an example of a proof offered by the Gemara that the word or can legitimately be used to mean "evening," the Gemara quotes a passage from Tehillim (148:3) that describes how the kokhavei or - the stars of ohr - offer praise to God. Since stars are in the sky at night, clearly this means "night stars" and the word or can mean "night." The Gemara responds that this is not a proof, since it may simply mean "stars that give light." This argument is rejected by the Gemara, since that would imply that only stars that give light praise God, while stars that do not give light do not. Some commentaries understand the Gemara's reference to stars which do not give light as referring to comets or the moon, whose light is reflected from the sun, as they do not have internal light sources. This does not seem to be the Gemara's intent, and, in fact, there are certainly dark stars in the heavens which do not give off light, such as the gravitational forces of black holes in space, whose presence and location can be found through other means.
Eiruvin 105a-b: Who is Permitted to Work in the Temple?
22/11/2020 - 6th of Kislev, 5781
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The last few Mishnayot in Massekhet Eiruvin deal with halakhot unique to the mikdash. The final Mishna (104b) discusses the best way to remove a ritually unclean animal from the Beit HaMikdash. Rabbi Yohanan in the Gemara quotes a passage in II Divrei Hayamim 29:16, which relates the story about King Hizkiyahu's refurbishing of the Temple. According to the passage, the kohanim removed all of the impure things that they found in the Temple and passed them to the levi'im in the Temple court, who carried them out to the Kidron Valley. Although it appears that entering the Mikdash to clean it is limited to kohanim and levi'im, a baraita is brought to the contrary.
The Sages taught in a baraita: It is permitted for everyone to enter the Sanctuary to build, to repair, or to remove impurity from inside. However, wherever possible, the mitzva is for these tasks to be performed by priests. If no priests are available, Levites enter; if no Levites are available, Israelites enter. In both cases, if they are ritually pure, yes, they may enter, but if they are impure, no, they may not enter the holy place.
Rav Kahana rules that kohanim are always preferable over non-kohanim, even if there are defects in the kohen or if he is tameh. Rav Huna introduces Rav Kahana's ruling with the comment that Rav Kahana - who was himself a kohen - always looks out for their interests and emphasizes their unique status in halakha. Rav Kahana cites the passage (Vayikra 21:23) which limits the participation of a kohen who is a ba'al mum - who has a physical blemish - in the Temple service, and interprets it to mean that he can, nevertheless, enter the Temple in order to do the work of an artisan in the Mikdash. Far from being just a theoretical discussion, these rulings had practical implications throughout history. When Herod decided to refurbish the Second Temple, the large building project that took place outside the Temple itself was completed relatively quickly. Once work began on the inner parts of the Mikdash, the desire to employ only qualified kohanim slowed down the work severely, and the project dragged out over a period of years - some say even generations - until its completion.
Eiruvin 104a-b: Forbidding Making Noise on Shabbat
21/11/2020 - 5th of Kislev, 5781
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In connection with activities that are permitted specifically in the Temple precincts, the Mishna on our daf mentions that water could be drawn from water holes in the Mikdash (Temple) using a water wheel. There were several types of water wheels that existed in Temple times that were used to draw water. This one makes use of a rope and wheel system to raise the bucket containing water. More advanced techniques were also used. This one is based on sketches from Rome and Alexandria. The system is powered by an animal (or, in this sketch, a person) and draws a strong, steady stream of water for agriculture and similar needs. The Gemara concludes that these techniques were forbidden on Shabbat outside the Mikdash because of a Rabbinic ordinance established because of concern that the water will be used not only for immediate needs, but for watering fields, as well. An additional consideration that the Gemara suggests is that these might be forbidden because of the noise that they make. Several cases are raised, all of which appear to be outlawed because they make noise. For example, Ulla complains that someone who knocked on the door was involved in Shabbat desecration. He is corrected by Rabba, who says that it is only the creation of music that is problematic. Ulla's position is taken very seriously by the amoraim in Israel. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that Rabbi Ilai spent the night outside his house rather than knock on the door to gain entrance. Another case raised by the Gemara is a game of nuts played by women. In this game, a board is placed against the wall and nuts are thrown against it. The player whose nut successfully hits others gets to keep them. Such games were played throughout the generations; Rashi reports that they were played in his day, and even today such games are still played. Here, too, the Gemara rejects the suggestion that it is forbidden to play such games on Shabbat because of the noise that is made and concludes that it is because these games, when played on the dirt floor, may lead the players to fill in holes in the ground, which is forbidden on Shabbat.
Eiruvin 103a-b: Bandaging a Kohen’s Injury
20/11/2020 - 4th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishnayot on our daf continue with a discussion of activities that are permitted in the precincts of the Temple, even though they are forbidden by the Sages under ordinary circumstances. With regard to a priest who was injured on his finger on Shabbat, he may temporarily wrap it with a reed so that his wound is not visible while he is serving in the Temple. This leniency applies in the Temple, but not in the country, as it also heals the wound, and medical treatment is prohibited on Shabbat due to rabbinic decree. The term gemi (reed) is, apparently, a general term that refers to the products derived from the papyrus plant - Cyperus papyrus L. This plant was used throughout the ages to produce a variety of manufactured goods. From its hard, outer part, mats were woven; in ancient Egypt and other countries, its inner parts were used for making paper. The soft inner parts also were used for producing strips with which things could be tied, and sometimes - as in our case - for bandages. The Gemara specifies that only a gemi can be used, and not a small cloth. The small cloth would be a problem either because: (a) it would be a hatzitza - a separation between the kohen and the utensil that he needs to hold, or else it involves (b) yitur begadim - an extra item of clothing beyond the basic uniform of the kohen While the Gemara makes it sound as though either of these could be the problem, there are significant differences between the two. The problem of hatzitza is one of separation; thus, if the cloth is put on the left hand, for example, there would be no problem, since the Temple service was done only with the right hand. Yitur begadim is an independent problem, based on bal tosif - that it is forbidden to add to the commandments of the Torah - so once it is defined as a beged (garment), it would create problems no matter where it was placed on the kohen's body.
Eiruvin 102a-b: Repairing a Harp on Shabbat
19/11/2020 - 3rd of Kislev, 5781
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There is a general principle that most of the Rabbinic ordinances prohibiting activities on Shabbat, lest they lead to something that is forbidden on a Biblical level, do not apply in the Temple. Several examples of this rule appear in the Mishnayot on our daf which discuss replacing and securing doors, bandaging wounds and fixing musical instruments.
One may tie up on Shabbat a string [nima] that came loose from a harp used in the Temple, but not in the rest of the country. And tying the string to the harp for the first time is prohibited both here and there.
Stringing a harp for the first time would be forbidden even in the Mikdash (Temple), since it should have been done before Shabbat began. The Gemara quotes a baraita which rules that when a string breaks it cannot be tied in a knot, but only in a bow, a position more stringent than that of the Mishnah. The Gemara offers a number of possible explanations for this discrepancy, suggesting that there might be a difference of opinion among the tanna'im on the matter, or, perhaps that the Mishna and the baraita are discussing different cases. The Mishna permits the string to be retied in a knot when the string is broken in the middle; the baraita permits only to tie a bow when the string is broken on the side. Most of the commentaries explain that if the string is broken in the middle, unless a solid knot is made, the music will not sound right. If it is broken at the end of the harp, however, even a weaker knot will suffice to produce the proper sound. Rabbenu Yehonatan and the Bartenura explain this differently. According to them, the reason that one is permitted to tie a knot when the string is broken in the middle is because the Levi will certainly not leave it there after Shabbat - he will untie it and have it replaced. Therefore the knot is not considered a permanent one that would be forbidden to make on Shabbat. If the string breaks at the very edge, however, tying a knot would fix the problem and there would be no need to replace the string after Shabbat. In that case, the knot would be considered a permanent one, which is forbidden on Shabbat on a Biblical level.
Eiruvin 101a-b: Locking a Door on Shabbat
18/11/2020 - 2nd of Kislev, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf is concerned with the possibility that securing a door by adding a bolt to it may be considered boneh– building – and forbidden by the Rabbis.
With regard to a bolt that secures a door in place and that has a thick knob [gelustera] at its end, a useful implement for a variety of purposes, the tannaim disagree whether the bolt has the status of a vessel, and one may therefore close the door with it, or whether it is considered a cross beam, which would mean that doing so is classified as building. Rabbi Eliezer prohibits its use, and Rabbi Yose permits it.
The case discussed is a neger - a peg or bolt - that has on its end a gelustera - a thick, rounded knob that makes it into a keli - a utensil - that can possibly be used for a number of different purposes (e.g. as a pestle). Rabbi Eliezer says that it is still considered a simple board and we are concerned with boneh; Rabbi Yose rules that, as a keli, it is independent of the house and clearly being used as a lock, which is permitted. Rashi understands the case of the neger in the Mishna to be one in which this bolt is placed such that the door is connected to the floor beneath the door. According to the Rambam, this neger is placed into rings that are on two side-by-side doors, and the doors are thereby secured. The Bartenura combines both of these explanations. As explained above, according to Rashi, the gelustera is the ball at the end of the neger that makes it useful for other purposes, and therefore considered a keli. According to the Rambam, the gelustera is a square or round addition to the bolt which is put there to indicate that the neger is to be used as a lock on a regular basis and that it can no longer be used for building. Some explain that the gelustera described is on the thin end of the neger and that it is, in effect, what we would call a key.
Eiruvin 100a-b: Learning Proper Behavior From the Animal Kingdom
17/11/2020 - 1st of Kislev, 5781
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A well-known Talmudic homily appears on today's daf:
Rabbi Yohanan said: Even if the Torah had not been given, we would nonetheless have learned modesty from the cat, which covers its excrement, and that stealing is objectionable from the ant, which does not take grain from another ant, and forbidden relations from the dove, which is faithful to its partner, and proper relations from the rooster, which first appeases the hen and then mates with it.
As is often the case, this discussion evolved from the "stream-of-consciousness" flow of the Gemara's dialogue. It opened with Rami bar Abba quoting Rav Asi as forbidding people from walking on grass on Shabbat, based on the passage in Mishlei 19:2, "and he who hastens with his feet, sins." (The conclusion of the Gemara is that this is permissible, since we rule like Rabbi Shimon that something done unintentionally on Shabbat is permitted.) In the continuation of the Gemara, Rami bar Hama quotes Rav Asi, who interprets this passage metaphorically, as a reference to sexual relations between husband and wife. According to this reading, the passage teaches that a person cannot force his wife to engage "in a mitzva" against her will. The Gemara's reference to sexual relations as a mitzva indicates both the attitude of the Gemara that relations within the framework of marriage is a positive act, and yet it is forbidden for the husband to force his wife to participate, even if his intention is for a mitzva. From this, the Gemara launches into a discussion of appropriate relationships between husbands and wives in sexual matters, including the admonition to learn from the natural behaviors of the animal kingdom how to conduct oneself in such matters. From the rooster we learn the importance of mating rituals and how thoughtful, generous and loving words and acts should lead up to intimacy. On a different level, the case of doves is instructive because we find animals that are monogamous. Once the male and female join up, they are loyal to one-another to the extent that, should one of them disappear, the other will not choose another partner for the duration of that season.
Eiruvin 99a-b: When Spitting is Punishable by Death
16/11/2020 - 29th of Cheshvan, 5781
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According to the Mishna (98b) a person should not stand in a reshut ha-yahid (a private domain) and spit into a reshut ha-rabim (a public domain), or in a reshut ha-rabim and spit into a reshut ha-yahid, as you are transferring your saliva from one domain to another. Rabbi Yehuda teaches that even walking four cubits in the public domain with a collection of saliva in your mouth would be forbidden. Rav Yosef on our daf comments that the rule in the Mishna about spitting would be considered a Biblical transgression, requiring the bringing of a sin-offering. The Ritva points out that this actually depends on the position that one takes with regard to a case that is a melakha she-ain tzrikha le-gufa – when a forbidden act is done on Shabbat with an intent other than that usually associated with that act. Since in the case of spitting, it is most likely that the intent was to get rid of the spittle and not specifically to have it reach the other reshut, those opinions that rule that one is not liable for such an act would disagree with Rav Yosef in this case. This unusual discussion about spitting offers an opportunity for Resh Lakish to teach that a student who spits in front of his teacher is deserving of death.
Reish Lakish said: One who expelled phlegm in front of his master has acted in a disrespectful manner and is liable for the punishment of death at the hand of Heaven, as it is stated: “All they who hate Me love death” (Proverbs, or Mishlei 8:36). Do not read it as: “They who hate [mesanai] Me”; rather, read it as: “Those who make themselves hateful [masniai] to Me,” i.e., those who make themselves hateful by such a discharge.
This rule is brought in a number of places by the Gemara with regard to Torah scholars whose conduct or manner of dress brings about an embarrassment to the honor of the Torah. In our case, Resh Lakish teaches that those students whose behavior angers their teachers and causes them to hate them are deserving of death, since "the awe of your teacher should be equivalent to the awe of Heaven." Unlike the case in the Mishna, however, Resh Lakish certainly does not mean that such a person would be put to death for his crime, rather that such an act is so severe as to be deserving of death b'yedei Shamayim – by the Hand of God.
Eiruvin 98a-b: Placing Objects on a Ledge on Shabbat
15/11/2020 - 28th of Cheshvan, 5781
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An extension that protrudes under a window is referred to by the Mishna on our daf as a ziz. (A ziz and a gezuztra are similar projections from a window. According to the Geonim, a ziz has supports beneath it, while a gezuztra is, in effect, a balcony, with walls that extend from the building above it). The Mishna teaches that a person can place objects on this ziz, or take things from the ziz into the house on Shabbat. The Gemara limits this rule in a number of ways. For example, according to the Gemara, the protrusion must be above ten tefahim from the ground. As we have learned before, the rules of reshut ha-rabim – of the public domain – only extend up until ten tefahim. Above that is a makom petur – a "free space" that is neither public nor private. If it is larger than four tefahim square, then it becomes a reshut ha-yahid (private domain) that extends from the house.
If you say that the ledge protrudes into a public domain, one should be prohibited to place an object on it, as we should be concerned lest the object fall and he will forget and come to bring it in from the public domain to a private domain. Rather, it must be that the ledge protrudes into a private domain; but if so, it is obvious that it is permitted to place objects on it and to remove them. Abaye said: Actually, the mishna is dealing with a case where it protrudes into a public domain, and what is the meaning of that which it teaches: One may place objects upon it? This refers to fragile utensils, which would break instantly if they fell. Consequently, there is no concern that one might then bring them in from the public domain to the private domain.
Rashi explains that if such items as plates or cups made of glass or earthenware fall down, they will break, so there is no concern that they will be carried back into the house. Rabbenu Yehonatan gives another explanation for permitting breakable utensils to be placed on the ziz. He argues that people will be particularly careful with their breakable items and will make sure that they do not fall to the ground. Since they are so careful, the likelihood that someone will come to carry them becomes less of a concern.
Eiruvin 97a-b: Carrying a Child on Shabbat
14/11/2020 - 27th of Cheshvan, 5781
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The Mishna (95a-b) at the beginning of the perek discussed what to do if someone comes across a pile of tefillin that cannot be transported inside by wearing each pair. Rabbi Shimon's suggestion is to arrange a line of people, and have them hand the tefillin from one to another until they reach an enclosed place. Since each person is within four amot from the next one, no Biblical transgression takes place, and in consideration of the holiness of the tefillin, this arrangement would be permitted. Rabbi Shimon adds that the same rule would apply to someone who wants to bring his child into an enclosed place. He can arrange for a line of people to hand the child from one to another until it arrives at home. The Gemara on our daf asks about the case of the child. What are the circumstances that would lead to such a situation? The explanation given is that the mother gave birth to this child outside and they want to bring the newborn baby home. The Jerusalem Talmud understands that this case is when the baby is in danger and needs to be brought to the city because of its condition. Nevertheless, the sages preferred to suggest a method that would minimize hillul Shabbat - desecration of Shabbat - if at all possible. Our Gemara and its commentaries seem to approach the case differently. According to them, if there was a possible danger to the life of the baby, we would immediately instruct the parents to bring the child for treatment, even if it involved hillul Shabbat. The commentaries on our Gemara appear to understand the case to be one where it would be better or more convenient to have the baby in the city, but not that there is any danger at all had we left the baby with its mother where it was born.
Eiruvin 96a-b: Women and Tefillin
13/11/2020 - 26th of Cheshvan, 5781
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As noted on yesterday's daf , one suggestion that appears in the Gemara to explain the disagreement between the Tanna Kamma (first) and Rabban Gamliel is that the Tanna Kamma believes that there is an obligation to wear tefillin on Shabbat. On our daf the Gemara discusses why such an obligation does or does not exist. The basic source to limit the commandment of tefillin to weekdays is quoted in the name of Rabbi Akiva, who understands the passage about tefillin "…and they shall be a sign (ot) on your hand and a remembrance between your eyes…" (Shmot 13:9) to mean that tefillin are only necessary when there is a need for an ot – a sign. On days that are considered, in and of themselves an ot, there is no need to don tefillin. There are many different explanations as to what makes Shabbat and Yom Tov (Jewish holiday) days that are considered an ot. Some explain that the commandments regarding the holiness of these days make them a sign for the Jewish people. Some say that it is the fact that work is forbidden that makes such days stand out on the calendar as a sign. Yet others argue that it is the unique commandments of each of the days – sukka, matza, refraining from eating hametz, etc. In the course of the discussion, the Gemara relates a well-known midrash:
Michal, daughter of Kushi, King Saul, would don phylacteries, and the Sages did not protest against her behavior, as she was permitted to do so. And similarly, Jonah's wife would undertake the Festival pilgrimage and the Sages did not protest against her practice. From the fact that the Sages did not protest against Michal's donning phylacteries, it is apparent that these Sages hold that phylacteries is a positive mitzva not bound by time, i.e., it is a mitzva whose performance is mandated at all times, including nights and Shabbat., There is an accepted principle that women are obligated in all positive mitzvot not bound by time.
This argument is rejected by the Gemara, since Michal may have been wearing tefillin not because she saw it as an obligation, but because she chose to do so voluntarily, following the opinion of Rabbi Yose who rules that women can participate in mitzvot voluntarily, even if they are not obligated in them. Specifically, Rabbi Yose permitted women to do semikha – to lean on a sacrifice that they are bringing to the Temple – even though they are not obligated to do so. Our tradition follows the opinion of Rabbi Yose which allows women to perform mitzvot on a voluntary basis, even if they are not commanded in them. Rabbi Yose permits this even in a case where there is potential for a transgression, as in the case of semikha, which can be seen as making use of an animal that has been consecrated as a sacrifice, which is ordinarily forbidden. The story about Michal bat Kushi does not appear in Tanakh, but it was a well-established tradition handed down to the sages. It is interesting to note that when the story is recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud, it tells that the sages did object to her participation in this mitzva, which is why women are discouraged from participating in the mitzva of tefillin, as opposed to other mitzvot (shofar, lulav, etc.), which women are encouraged to fulfill.
Eiruvin 95a-b: Wearing Tefillin as a Means to Carry Them on Shabbat
12/11/2020 - 25th of Cheshvan, 5781
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The rules and regulations of eiruvin that have been discussed throughout this tractate, are but one aspect of a much larger set of halakhot, that are referred to as shvut – Rabbinic ordinances whose purpose is to keep the individual from committing a more serious transgression or to guarantee an atmosphere of Shabbaton – of rest and tranquility - on Shabbat. The final chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin, which begins on our daf , moves away from a discussion of eiruvin and deals with broader issues of such Rabbinic ordinances, although most of the issues discussed are in some way connected with carrying on Shabbat. The first Mishna in this perek discusses someone who finds tefillin in a public domain on Shabbat and is interested in protecting them by bringing them into a protected area. How can they be carried on Shabbat? The agreed solution of the Mishna is that transporting them by wearing them is permitted. The Tanna Kamma (first) and Rabban Gamliel disagree as to whether only one pair can be worn at a time, or, perhaps, even two pairs can be worn. The Gemara suggests a number of reasons for the difference of opinion between Rabban Gamliel and the Tanna Kamma. One suggestion is that they differ on whether the commandment of tefillin applies on Shabbat or not. According to the Tanna Kamma, the mitzva does apply, so wearing two pairs of tefillin simultaneously would be forbidden because of bal tosif – the commandment that forbids adding to a mitzva. According to Rabban Gamliel, who does not believe that the mitzva of tefillin applies on Shabbat, there is no concern that you are adding to the mitzva by wearing two pairs. It should be noted that according to the conclusion of the Gemara, tefillin should not be worn on Shabbat. Nevertheless, in our case, where we are concerned lest the holiness of the tefillin will be desecrated if they are left in the public domain, there is general agreement that we permit them to be worn for the purpose of moving them to a safer place.
Eiruvin 94a-b: Hanging a Cloak on a Fallen Partition
11/11/2020 - 24th of Cheshvan, 5781
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On the previous daf we learned about a case where the dividing wall between two courtyards collapses on Shabbat, and how Rava and Abayye agree that we should apply the rule that has been taught before (Eiruvin 17a) that once an area was declared permitted with regard to the rules of eiruvin it remains so until after Shabbat. On our daf we are introduced to a disagreement about this rule. Rav rejects the rule and says that the residents are no longer allowed to carry beyond the most basic four cubits around them. Shmuel argues that they can carry to where the wall originally stood. The Gemara relates that this disagreement was derived from an actual event, when Rav was visiting Shmuel and they found themselves in a courtyard where the wall had fallen. Shmuel ordered a cloak be hung between the courtyards and that people could continue carrying as before. Rav did not comment, but he turned away, indicating that he disagreed with Shmuel's ruling. The Gemara concludes that Shmuel did not really believe that even the cloak was necessary to allow the residents to continue carrying, and that he hung it simply to offer some privacy to each side. In way of explaining Rav's behavior, the Gemara argues that since it was Shmuel's hometown, Rav did not want to publicly disagree with Shmuel's ruling, but he did want people to understand that his opinion differed from the one that was being put into effect. Tosafot point out that Rav was uncomfortable with Shmuel's ruling on two different planes. Aside from objecting to the people in each courtyard carrying, since he believed that reestablishing the wall by means of a cloak was a significant act, it should have been forbidden on Shabbat because of binyan – building. Shmuel did not feel that there was a real need for this division, so he had no reason to keep from putting up the cloak in order to offer a modicum of privacy to the residents. The Meiri raises the question of how Rav could have avoided a public argument with Shmuel. Even if it was Shmuel's hometown, we rule that in situations where a transgression will take place, concern for wrongdoing is greater than issues of personal honor. He answers that this particular situation was a relatively minor Rabbinic issue, and in such cases concern for another sage's honor is more important than the potential transgression. The Ritva explains that in this case we are dealing with a question that had not yet been decided, so it would have been inappropriate for Rav to argue the ruling with Shmuel in Shmuel's hometown. In fact, the halakha follows Shmuel's ruling.
Eiruvin 93a-b: If a Wall Falls Down Between Two Courtyards
10/11/2020 - 23th of Cheshvan, 5781
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Rav Hoshaya asks about a situation where the division between two courtyards collapsed on Shabbat, in effect adding new residents – the residents of the hatzer (courtyard) next door – to each of the courtyards.
Rav Hisda said: Come and hear a resolution to the dilemma from the mishna: With regard to a large courtyard that was breached into a small courtyard, it is permitted for residents of the large courtyard to carry, but it is prohibited for the residents of the small one to do so. It is permitted to carry in the large courtyard because the breach is regarded like the entrance of the large courtyard. Apparently, even if the breach occurred on Shabbat, it is prohibited for the residents of the small courtyard to carry.
Rava and Abayye argue that this ruling would only apply if the dividing wall fell down before Shabbat began. If however, the wall was standing at the beginning of Shabbat, we apply the rule that we have learned before (Eiruvin 17a) that once an area was declared permitted with regard to the rules of eiruvin it remains so until after Shabbat. Tosafot point out that this rule does not apply in every case of eiruv, and it is important to distinguish between the case discussed in our Gemara, where the wall collapsed and we need to rule with regard to the relationship between the residents of each of the two courtyards, and a case where the wall between the courtyard and the reshut ha-rabim – the public domain – collapses. In that case we would rule differently, and the residents would not be allowed to carry in the hatzer. This distinction stems from the fact that in our Gemara, when the dividing wall collapsed, the courtyards retain their basic designation as a reshut ha-yahid – a private domain – and all that has happened is that there are more residents than there were when the eiruv was established at the beginning of Shabbat. In such a case, we can apply the rule that once an area was declared permitted with regard to the rules of eiruvin it remains so until after Shabbat. In the second case, however, the collapse of the walls changes the courtyard from a reshut ha-yahid. It is no longer a simple hatzer. In such a case the entire situation with regard to the eiruv needs to be reevaluated.
Eiruvin 92a-b: Bringing Fruit Down Off a Wall
09/11/2020 - 22th of Cheshvan, 5781
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As we saw on yesterday’s daf, Rabbi Yohanan rules that we follow Rabbi Shimon’s opinion in the Mishna (89a) even if the residents of each courtyard made their own eiruv, and we are not concerned that someone will carry from his house into the courtyard, and from there into other yards or gardens. On our daf, Ravina points out another statement made by Rabbi Yohanan that seems to stand in contradiction with this one.
Did Rabbi Yohanan actually say this, that the halakha is in accordance with Rabbi Shimon' s opinion that all courtyards constitute a single domain, even if each courtyard established an independent eiruv? But didn't Rabbi Yohanan say that the halakha is in accordance with an unattributed mishna, and we learned: With regard to a wall between two courtyards, ten handbreadths high and four handbreadths wide, they establish two eiruvin, one for each courtyard, but they do not establish one eiruv. If there was fruit atop the wall, these, the residents of one courtyard, may ascend from here and eat it, and those, the residents of the other courtyard, may ascend from there and eat it, provided that they do not take the fruit down from atop the wall to the courtyards. According to Rabbi Yohanan, all the courtyards are considered a single domain. Why may they not bring the fruit down?
Rav Ashi answers that the intention of the Mishna is to forbid carrying the fruit from the top of the wall into one of the houses. Carrying it into the courtyard, however, would be permitted. In response to this, Ravina quotes a baraita taught by Rabbi Hiyya that in such a case the residents of the courtyard can only eat the fruit on top of the wall, and they cannot bring it down to either courtyard at all. Rav Ashi reacts to this by saying that if Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi did not explicitly teach it in this manner, how would his student, Rabbi Hiyya derive such information? We must limit Rav Ashi’s statement to very specific circumstances, because if we accepted it as a general principle there would be no reason to compare and contrast Mishnayot and baraitot, which is one of the most basic discussions upon which the Gemara is based. What we can say is that when the baraita contradicts the Mishna or reaches a conclusion that runs counter to the conclusion of the Mishna, we will reject the baraita as being Rabbi Hiyya’s personal opinion, rather than a reliable tradition.
Eiruvin 91a-b: Carrying Between Roofs and Gardens
08/11/2020 - 21th of Cheshvan, 5781
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In the Mishna at the beginning of the perek (89a) Rabbi Shimon ruled that roofs, gardens, yards, etc. are all considered a single private domain, and therefore people can carry between them on Shabbat, regardless of who the owners are. On our daf we find that both Rav and Shmuel rule like Rabbi Shimon, although they disagree as to whether the rule applies in all cases. According to Rav, Rabbi Shimon’s ruling is applied only if the individual owners did not make an eiruv for each courtyard. If, however, an eiruv was made for each courtyard (but not between all of the courtyards), we fear that someone will carry from his house into the courtyard, and from there into other yards or gardens, which would be forbidden. Shmuel disagrees and rules that even when individual eiruvin have been made, we can make use of Rabbi Shimon’s ruling and permit people to carry between roofs, etc. The Gemara quotes Rabbi Yohanan as responding to the argument between Rav and Shmuel by commenting, “who whispered to you a difference between cases when an eiruv has been made and when it has not?” This odd expression is so strange that Rashi simply says that it should not be included in the Gemara. The Tosafot do, in fact, believe that it should be included in the Gemara, pointing out that similar expressions are found in Midrashei halakha like the Torat Kohanim. A number of explanations are offered as to what it might mean: Rabbenu Shmuel understands that Rabbi Yohanan is responding to Rav and is saying, “who whispered to you that there is a difference between cases when an eiruv has been made and when it has not?” Rabbeinu Tam explains that Rabbi Yohanan is responding to Shmuel, whose rulings in other areas seem to indicate that he would take a stringent position when interpreting Rabbi Shimon. (Incidentally, in the Jerusalem Talmud Shmuel is quoted as ruling that when eiruvin have been made we do apply Rabbi Shimon’s ruling permitting people to carry from one roof to another). Thus he is saying, “who whispered to you that in this case there is no reason to differentiate between cases when an eiruv has been made and when it has not!” indicating that he is impressed that Shmuel knew to rule leniently in this case.
Eiruvin 90a-b: Carrying From One Roof to Another on Shabbat - II
07/11/2020 - 20th of Cheshvan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The opinion of the Hakhamim in the Mishna (89a) did not allow carrying from one roof to another, and Rav (ibid) explained that a person was limited to the extent that he could only carry within a four cubit radius. Even within this limitation, it would be forbidden to carry from the end of one roof to the beginning of another, even if it was within the four-cubit limit. On our daf , Rami bar Hama asks whether, according to this opinion, one can carry from the roof of a house to the roof of a neighboring akhsadra (portico), assuming that he remained within the four cubit limit. The Gemara does not offer a response to Rami bar Hama’s question and continues by relating another question, this one raised by Rav Beivai bar Abaye. What if a house adjoined a hurba – a ruin? Could one carry from the roof of the house onto the roof of the hurba if he was careful to remain within the four-cubit limit?
Rav Kahana said: Is that not precisely the same dilemma raised by Rami bar Hama with regard to a portico? Rav Beivai bar Abaye said: And did I come late [me’aher] merely to quarrel, and meddle in other people’s questions? That is not the case, as the two dilemmas are not identical. A portico is not fit for residence, while a ruin is fit for residence. Therefore the halakha might differ in each case.
Rav Beivai uses an expression that is difficult to interpret – v’khi me’aher atai u’nitzai. Rashi understands it to mean “do you think that I came to make use of someone else’s question in order to argue?” The Meiri seems to read the word me’aher slightly differently, so that it does not mean “from someone else” but “to come late.” Thus he understands the meaning to be “are you saying I came late to the Beit Midrash, missed the lesson, and that I am arguing without knowing the discussion that took place?” Other possible versions of the Gemara led some commentaries to explain this as Rav Beivai saying about Rav Kahana, “he is arguing with me for no reason” or “he is younger than me, and yet he insists on arguing with me.” In any case, the Gemara reaches no conclusion with regard to these questions, ending with the proverbial Teiku.
Eiruvin 89a-b: Carrying From One Roof to Another on Shabbat
06/11/2020 - 19th of Cheshvan, 5781
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The Sages restricted carrying from one private domain to another, unless the owners of each established an eiruv before Shabbat. In the Mishna on our daf which opens the ninth chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin, three opinions are brought regarding private areas that are not used on a regular basis: Rabbi Meir rules that the roofs of all houses are considered a single domain. It is permitted to carry from one roof to another, even if the residents of the houses did not establish an eiruv between them, unless they are more than ten tefahim higher or lower than the roof of their neighbor. The Hakhamim say that each roof is a private domain unto itself. It is permitted to carry from one to the other only if the residents of both houses established an eiruv. Rabbi Shimon says that not only roofs, but other similar areas – such as enclosed yards, gardens, orchards, etc. – are all considered a single domain, and objects that were in them before Shabbat began can be carried freely from one to another. Things that were inside a house when Shabbat began cannot be carried into another area, however. Up until this point, when the Gemara discussed whether someone can carry from his house to a courtyard, or from a courtyard to an alleyway (mavoy - see 2a-b), the defining criteria was ownership. If the owners of all the houses in a courtyard agreed to make an eiruv, only then could they carry there. In examining the position of Rabbi Meir, the Gemara appears to suggest that, unlike carrying in and out of homes, in places like roofs, gardens, etc. the Sages were less concerned with ownership and more concerned with the definition of the type of area. According to this opinion, all roofs are one domain, regardless of to whom the roofs belong. Similarly, gardens, yards or orchards that neighbor one another will each be considered a single domain for carrying on Shabbat, even if they all have different owners. Nevertheless, according to Rabbi Meir, objects cannot be carried from one type of area to another (i.e. from the domain of roofs to the domain of gardens). Rabbi Shimon permits even carrying between different types of areas.
Eiruvin 88a-b: Pouring Water on the Ground on Shabbat
05/11/2020 - 18th of Cheshvan, 5781
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In a small courtyard of less than four amot square, the Mishna on our daf teaches that pouring water on the ground is a problem, because it will spill out into the public domain. Even though the person standing in the courtyard is not spilling directly into the reshut ha-rabim, still it is the strength of his pouring that causes the water to move from one domain to another, so he will be held liable – at least on a Rabbinic level.
With regard to a courtyard that is less than four cubits by four cubits in area, one may not pour waste water into it on Shabbat, unless a pit [ukah] was fashioned to receive the water, and the pit holds two se’a in volume from its edge below. This halakha applies whether the pit was fashioned outside the courtyard or whether it was dug inside the courtyard itself. The only difference is as follows: If the pit was dug outside in the adjoining public domain, it is necessary to arch over [likmor] it, so that the water will not flow into the public domain. If it was dug inside the courtyard, it is not necessary to arch over it.
It is clear that an ukah is a pit for collecting water. The Aruk suggests that it is a pit with a particular shape, specifically dug in a circular fashion. Rashi understands that likmor means to cover the ukah with boards. According to this opinion, such an arrangement makes the pit into a makom patur – a “free space” – into which the water can be poured without concern that one is transferring from one domain to another. According to the Meiri, this pit needs to be covered because, if it is too large or not deep enough, it will have the status of a karmelit or a reshut ha-rabim (public domain). Once it is covered it will be considered a pit in a reshut ha-yahid (private domain) or a makom patur, so that pouring water there will not be a problem. Maimonides says that the reason for covering the pit is marit ayin – for appearance sake – so that it does not appear to be part of the public domain. The Darkei Moshe says that we are concerned about having an open pit in the public domain, which is why we need to cover it. (For more on the issue of domains, read the Introduction to Eiruvin.)
Eiruvin 87a-b: Drawing From a Water Channel on Shabbat
04/11/2020 - 17th of Cheshvan, 5781
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There is a disagreement in the Mishna on our daf about how to arrange for water that is channeled through a courtyard to be used on Shabbat. According to the Tanna Kamma (first), ten-ama high walls must be built around it at the entrance to the courtyard and its exit in order to be allowed to draw water from it. Rabbi Yehuda rules that it is not necessary to build such walls, since the walls of the courtyard itself act as a separation between the water outside the hatzer and the water inside the hatzer. To support his position, Rabbi Yehuda described an actual water channel that led from the town of Avel in the Lower Galilee to the city of Tzippori.
Rabbi Yehuda said: There was an incident involving a water channel that passed through the courtyards of the town of Avel, from which the residents would draw water from it on Shabbat by the authority of the Elders, relying on the courtyard wall suspended above it. They said to him: It is due to the fact that channel was not of the size that requires a partition, i.e., it was less than ten handbreadths deep or less than ten handbreadths wide, it was permitted to draw water from it even without a partition.
The halakha, in fact, makes this distinction. If the water channel is more than four tefahim wide and ten tefahim deep, it is considered a karmelit (an intermediate domain, neither public nor private – see the Introduction to Massekhet Eiruvin) and one cannot draw water from it into a public or private domain. If it is less than four tefahim wide and ten tefahim deep, it has the status of whatever area it is in. The specific water channel mentioned by Rabbi Yehuda flowed a few kilometers from the village of Avel to the larger city of Tzippori in order to bolster the water supply in the larger city.
Eiruvin 86a-b: Honoring the Wealthy
03/11/2020 - 16th of Cheshvan, 5781
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When deciding whether a renter needs to participate in the courtyard’s eiruv, the Mishna (85b) teaches that as long as the owner retains the right to enter the apartment to take what belongs to him, the renter is considered part of the owner’s household and does not need to contribute separately to the eiruv. As an example, the Gemara points to the case of Bonyas – someone so rich that his possessions were stored in the apartments that he rented out to others. This story leads the Gemara to discuss the respect that various sages showed to wealthy people, based on the passage in Tehillim (61:8) – “May he be enthroned before God forever; appoint mercy and truth, that they may preserve him” – which is understood to mean that rich people who are able to offer food and support to others deserve to be honored. This derasha is explained in a number of different ways by the commentaries. Some say that the wealthy people deserve respect because their charity and generosity support the world. The Aruk suggests that the very fact that they are wealthy is an indication that they are being rewarded for their good deeds and compassion, so they are clearly deserving of honor. Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Chajes explains that it would be impossible for those people who are devoted to Torah study to sit “before God” and learn were it not for the wealthy people who are involved in the practical aspects of the commandments and community needs. The Maharsha argues that “before God” in this passage means “before the sages of the generation,” and what is being suggested is that the generosity of the wealthy people allows them to sit before the Sages. In a homiletical vein, the Maharil suggests that Rebbi and Rabbi Akiva – the Sages who honored the wealthy people – did so in order that, when the honor was reciprocated, the respect that they received would be due to their own wealth and not because of their Torah knowledge, since they did not want to derive any personal benefit from the honor that truly belongs to the Torah.
Eiruvin 85a-b: Can a Gatehouse Be Considered a Dwelling for the Purpose of Eiruv?
02/11/2020 - 15th of Cheshvan, 5781
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One of the most basic rules of eiruvei hatzerot is that the residents of the courtyard must be partners in food so that they can be viewed as a single household, permitting them to carry in the courtyard and back and forth from their homes to the courtyard. In order to accomplish this, the food must be placed in one of the houses that opens to the hatzer (courtyard). The Mishna on our daf teaches that there are some structures in the hatzer that are not viewed as dwelling places, and therefore the eiruv cannot be placed in them. For example, the bet sha'ar – the gatehouse to the courtyard - is not considered a place where people live, so the eiruv cannot be placed there. Following that logic, the Mishna also teaches that if someone were to live in the gatehouse, he would not be considered a resident of the courtyard, and would therefore not play a role in the establishment of the eiruv.
Rav Yehuda, the son of Rav Shmuel bar Sheilat, said: Any place with regard to which the Sages said that one who resides there does not render it prohibited for the other residents of the courtyard to carry, one who places his eiruv there, his is not a valid eiruv, except for a gatehouse that belongs to an individual. If a structure is used as a passageway by only one person, he does not render it prohibited for the other residents of the courtyard, and an eiruv placed there is a valid eiruv.
This rule is, apparently, based on the understanding that if only one family uses the gatehouse and it is not open to public access, it is considered part of their home, and would, therefore, meet the criterion of being a place where people live. The Jerusalem Talmud discusses this question, and reaches the opposite conclusion. According to the Yerushalmi, a bet sha'ar d'yahid (gatehouse that belongs to an individual) is not considered a dwelling place at all and cannot be used to house the eiruv, while a normal bet sha'ar that is open to the public meets the requirement to be a place where people live, so the eiruv can be put there and someone living in it is considered a resident of the courtyard. The logic of the Yerushalmi seems to be that a private gatehouse is considered insignificant and has no halakhic significance. If someone lives there, he will, at best, be considered a member of that household. The public gatehouse, on the other hand, is a significant structure that must be considered.
Eiruvin 84a-b: Accessing a Pit Surrounded by High Walls on Shabbat
01/11/2020 - 14th of Cheshvan, 5781
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When two distinct domains in which people live both have access to an area that is separate from them, and they would each like to carry back-and-forth from it on Shabbat, how do we decide which domain it belongs to? Obviously, if the two domains are situated so that they can join together and make an eiruv, this area will be included in it and the residents of both domains will be allowed free access to it. If such an eiruv was not made, the Mishna (83b) teaches a basic principle: it is the domain that can access the area more easily that will be considered connected to it. One example that the Mishna brings is a huliyat ha-bor – a pit surrounded by a wall.
The embankments that surround a cistern or a rock that are ten handbreadths high may be used by the balcony; if they are lower than that height, the right to use them belongs to the courtyard. The Gemara assumes that the phrase to the balcony is referring to the residents of an upper story, who access their apartments through the balcony. The mishna indicates that if one set of residents can make use of a place by lowering and another set of residents can use it by throwing, the use of the place is granted to those who lower their objects, in accordance with the opinion of Shmuel and contrary to the opinion of Rav.
In an examination of the case of the pit with high walls around it, our Gemara asks whether it can be considered readily accessible to the people on the mirpeset (balcony), after all, the water in the pit is much lower down!? Rav Yitzhak son of Rav Yehuda explains that for this to work, we must be talking about a case where the pit was filled up with water to the very top. To the objection that in the course of Shabbat the water will be drawn from the pit, lowering its level below ten amot (cubits), he argues that since it was accessible – and permitted – when it was full at the beginning of Shabbat, it retains its status even after the water level drops. To this the Gemara objects that we should look at it the other way around – since it will not be readily accessible when the water level drops, making it forbidden, even at the beginning of Shabbat it should be forbidden. This argument forces the Gemara to accept another approach to the problem. The Ritva explains that Rav Yitzhak son of' Rav Yehuda's reasoning is based on a rule taught earlier in our massekhet (17a), that once an issue of eiruv on Shabbat was permitted, it remains permitted for all of Shabbat. An example of this is a case where two courtyards are separated by a wall with an opening in it that allows them to join together to make an eiruv. Even if that opening becomes closed up on Shabbat, the eiruv remains in force. The case in our Gemara is different because we know at the very beginning that the situation will change in the course of the day. Therefore, the rule that is more appropriate to apply is the one that teaches us to follow the situation at the conclusion of Shabbat rather than at the beginning of Shabbat.
Eiruvin 83a-b: Measuring Food For An Eiruv
31/10/2020 - 13th of Cheshvan, 5781
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We have already established that the amount of food that is needed in order to establish an eiruv tehumim that would allow a person to walk beyond 2,000 cubits from his home is mazon shtei se'udot – two meals' worth. In the course of trying to establish an objective definition of that amount, the Mishna (82b) quotes a number of different opinions. Rabbi Shimon rules that it is two-thirds of a loaf of bread, when there are three such loaves to a kav (a measure of capacity, one sixth of a se’ah). As an aside, Rabbi Shimon records other measurement rules that are based on such a loaf, specifically rules of ritual purity – tuma v'tahara. The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita that teaches other rules regarding the amount of food that is necessary in other such cases, and explains that these rules do not appear in our Mishna because the quantities are not in precise proportion to one another, which would lead to confusion. At least part of the confusion stems from the fact that three different systems of measurement were used in the Gemara, all of which are discussed here. These three systems stem from three different historical periods. The "Midbarit" (wilderness) measurement is the one that we are familiar with from its use in the Bible, and it is the basis for establishing all weights and measures in halakha. The "Yerushalmit" (Jerusalem) measurement was used during the Second Temple period, and the "Tzipporit" measurement was established after the destruction of the Second Temple, when the center of Jewish life moved to Tzippori. It is important to note that the most basic unit of measure – the betza (egg) – did not change. All of the changes mentioned are in other units of measurement. This is because the betza is more or less a natural unit, and because of its objective quality, it is not dependent on communal or societal agreement. Therefore the only units that changed were the ones that were based on general agreement – the log, kav and se'ah.
Eiruvin 82a-b: When Can Gamblers Be Trusted?
30/10/2020 - 12th of Cheshvan, 5781
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In the Mishna (81b) Rabbi Yehuda uses the term ba-meh devarim amurim – "in what case is this statement said" – to limit the applicability of a given rule to just one case. In an attempt to clarify the discussion in the Mishna, the Gemara brings Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi who teaches that whenever Rabbi Yehuda uses that expression in the Mishnah, he is not arguing with the previous statement, rather he is explaining it. The Gemara then quotes a number of Mishnayot where this expression is used in order to examine Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi's statement. One example is a Mishna that appears in Massekhet Sanhedrin (24b) that lists people who will not be accepted as witnesses in a Jewish court, because they are involved in monetary shenanigans that are forbidden by the Sages. These people include dice players, money lenders who take interest, people who gamble on pigeon races, and those who market produce from the Sabbatical year. Rabbi Yehuda says: ba-meh devarim amurim – "in what case is this statement said " – when this is their livelihood. If a person has another occupation and participates in these activities only occasionally, then he still could be trusted as a witness in court. Unlike modern courtrooms where witnesses are asked to swear prior to their testimony in order to ensure that they will tell the truth, a Jewish courtroom believes that every witness who is called to testify will tell the truth. Nevertheless, there are several types of people, enumerated in the Mishnayot of Massekhet Sanhedrin, who cannot testify. Close relatives, for example, cannot testify, no matter how upstanding and honest we know them to be. There are also people whose behavior does not allow the court to accept them. Among them are people who have committed sins that put them in the Biblical category of a rasha – an evil person – who cannot be trusted. While the people discussed in this Mishna have not done anything that the Torah forbids, nevertheless, their participation in activities that show them to be susceptible to the influence of monetary gain makes us fear that they could be bribed or similarly influenced to change their testimony.
Eiruvin 81a-b: Who Can Be One’s Agent in an Eiruv?
29/10/2020 - 11th of Cheshvan, 5781
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In the Mishna on our daf, Rabbi Eliezer teaches that you can give money to the grocer or baker who live with you in the same courtyard and ask them to include you in the communal eiruv. The hakhamim argue, since the general principle in halakha is that one cannot transfer property by simply paying money; a symbolic act of taking ownership, such as lifting the object up is essential. The Gemara asks why Rabbi Eliezer does not seem concerned that the money will not accomplish its expressed purpose, which is purchasing a share in the eiruv. After a number of suggestions are raised, the Gemara concludes that Rabbi Eliezer puts this case into the same category with a number of other cases where purchase by means of money is permitted by the Sages. In truth, on a Biblical level, money is an acceptable means of purchase; it is only a Rabbinic decree that a symbolic act is essential. The Sages were concerned lest a person would purchase an amount of grain from the seller, and when he came to collect it the seller would claim that a fire had destroyed the particular grain that had been sold to him. By forcing the parties to include a symbolic act of purchase in the sale, it would be clear to all involved what had been sold. The effect of this ruling is that under normal circumstances, even if money has changed hands, still either the buyer or the seller can back out of the agreement (although it is considered improper to do so). On the other hand, if the purchaser has performed a symbolic act of purchase – even if no money has changed hands – the object now belongs to him fully. Of course, he now has to pay the seller the money that he owes him. Rabbi Eliezer believed that in this case – as is true in four other specific cases in the Gemara – an exception would be made in order to make it easier to create an eiruv. The halakha, however, follows the hakhamim, and money cannot be used to participate in an eiruv, if it is given to the local grocer or baker.
And the Rabbis concede with regard to all other people, apart from grocers and bakers, that if one gave them money for the food of an eiruv, his money confers possession upon him, as one may establish an eiruv for a person only with his knowledge and at his bidding. With regard to a grocer or baker, the person giving the money does not intend to appoint the grocer or the baker as his agent and the money itself does not effect an acquisition, and consequently, he did not accomplish anything. With regard to anyone else, however, there is no doubt that he must have intended to appoint him his agent, and his act is effective.
Eiruvin 80a-b: Making an Eiruv on Someone Else’s Behalf - II
28/10/2020 - 10th of Cheshvan, 5781
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The Gemara tells a story about Rabbi Oshaya's daughter-in-law who went to the public baths (which were situated outside the 2,000 ama boundary around the city) on Friday afternoon. She apparently lost track of time, and had not left as Shabbat was approaching. When Rabbi Oshaya's wife realized what was happening, she quickly arranged an eiruv tehumim on her behalf – whose boundaries reached to the bath house – so that she would be allowed to return home even after Shabbat began. When this story got around, it caused some disagreement. Rabbi Hiyya said that it was forbidden. Rabbi Yishmael the son of Rabbi Yosei responded "You Babylonian! Why are you so stringent regarding the laws of eiruvin? Don't you know that we look to be as lenient as possible with regard to these halakhot?"
And a dilemma was raised before the Sages: Did the mother-in-law establish the eiruv for her daughter-in-law with the mother-in-law’s food, and Rabbi Hiyya prohibited it because she did not confer possession to her, i.e., she merely prepared the eiruv but did not confer possession of the food, and an eiruv of this kind is not effective? Or perhaps she established the eiruv for her with the daughter-in-law’s own food, but the eiruv was invalid because it was prepared without her knowledge?
One of the amoraim was charged with presenting this question on his next trip to Israel to Rav Ya'akov bar Idi who lived near Sulama d'Tzur (the Ladder of Tyre), even though it meant that he would need to detour in order to ask the question. When he did so, Rav Ya'akov bar Idi explained that the problem was that Rabbi Oshaya's wife had not transferred ownership properly to her daughter-in-law through an agent as is necessary. This map shows the two paths that could be taken from Babylon to Israel. Traveling through Damascus, the shortest route would be via the Golan and south to the Lower Galili. Alternatively, one could travel from Damascus to the Mediterranean coast, down to Acre and across the country to Tiberias. In order to reach Sulama d'Tzur the longer path had to be taken. (For a discussion of the geographic placement of Sulama d'Tzur, see Eiruvin 22).
Eiruvin 79a-b: Making an Eiruv on Someone Else’s Behalf
27/10/2020 - 9th of Cheshvan, 5781
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We have already learned that a mavoy (alleyway) is the area into which a number of courtyards open, which allows access to the reshut ha-rabim – the public domain. Carrying in a mavoy will be permitted on Shabbat if a symbolic board (a lehi or a kora) is placed at the entrance to the reshut ha-rabim, and if all of the residents have shared ownership of food, which figuratively joins them together. If someone wants to ensure that he will be able to carry in a mavoy without entering into negotiations with his neighbors, the Mishna on our daf teaches that he can take a barrel of food that belongs to him and announce "this is [for the eiruv] for all the residents of the alleyway." This arrangement works by virtue of the rule zakhin l'adam shelo befanav – that even without someone's knowledge, another person can engage in activities that benefit him. The Mishna teaches that another person needs to play the role of the agent who is acting on behalf of those people who are not aware that the transaction is being done for them. This agent can even be the adult children of the person who is making the eiruv, or his wife or his Jewish slaves. These rules are not unique to eiruv. In fact all of the normal rules of zakhin – of acting on behalf of someone else as their agent – need to be followed, the most basic of which is that one person cannot do it on his own; he needs another person to play the role of the "purchaser." An interesting disagreement turns up regarding who can act as the agent. Although the Gemara permits someone's adult children or his wife to play that role, some commentaries argue that if family members are supported by the head of the household, according to the halakha all of their income automatically belongs to the father. In that case, perhaps they should be viewed as agents of the father and cannot represent the other side in what is, in essence, a financial matter.
Eiruvin 78a-b: Using a Ladder to Connect Two Courtyards for an Eiruv
26/10/2020 - 8th of Cheshvan, 5781
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The Mishna (76b) taught that a solid ten-tefah (handbreadth) high wall dividing two courtyards will negate the possibility that the two hatzeirot (courtyards) will be able to join and make a single eiruv. Nevertheless, the Gemara (77b) teaches that if solid ladders are placed on either side of the wall, allowing free access between the courtyards, then the hatzeirot can be considered as one. On our daf the Gemara discusses how long a ladder is needed in order for the courtyards to be considered connected. Several opinions are brought by the Gemara, each of which offers a different ruling on how high the ladder needs to be to permit the courtyards on either side of a ten-tefah high wall to share an eiruv.
Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: If a wall is ten handbreadths high, it requires a ladder fourteen handbreadths high, so that one can place the ladder at a diagonal against the wall. The ladder then functions as a passageway and thereby renders the use of the wall permitted. Rav Yosef said: Even a ladder with a height of thirteen handbreadths and a bit is enough, as it is sufficient if the ladder reaches within one handbreadth of the top of the wall. Abaye said: Even a ladder that is only eleven handbreadths and a bit suffices, as the ladder will still reach a height of over seven handbreadths, i.e., within three handbreadths of the top of the wall. Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, said: Even if the ladder is only seven handbreadths and a bit it is sufficient, as he can stand the ladder upright against the wall. Since it will reach within three handbreadths of the top of the wall, the principle of lavud applies. Therefore, even a ladder placed in this manner is considered a valid passageway between the two courtyards.
The simplest way to explain these opinions is according to Tosafot, who argue that the ladder must allow easy access from one courtyard to the next. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the ladder is placed at a 45-degree angle, so that the distance on the ground from the wall to the beginning of the steps is the same as the height of the wall that the ladder reaches. The ladder is, in effect, the hypotenuse of a right triangle. This makes particular sense if the “ladder” being discussed looks more like steps than like the ladders with rungs that we are familiar with today. Here is how these opinions would appear according to Tosafot: A ladder that is 14 tefahim high will reach to the top edge of the ten-tefah wall – which is the requirement according to Rav Yehuda quoting Shmuel. A ladder that is 13 tefahim high reaches above nine tefahim, fulfilling the requirement according to Rav Yosef, who allows the ladder to reach within one tefah of the top. A ladder of 11 tefahim reaches above seven tefahim on the wall, which works according to Abaye, who rules that within three tefahim of the top suffices by virtue of the rule of lavud – that a gap of less than three tefahim is considered closed. Rav Huna also makes use of lavud, but he believes that even a ladder placed directly against the wall will suffice.
Eiruvin 77a-b: Does a Thin Wall Exist for the Purpose of Eiruv?
25/10/2020 - 7th of Cheshvan, 5781
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According to the Mishna (76b) one case where two courtyards cannot join together to make a single eiruv is when there is a wall between them that is ten tefahim (handbreadths) high and four tefahim thick. In such a case, the wall itself is a separate reshut ha-yahid, a private domain (see Massekhet Shabbat), so if there is fruit at the top of the wall, people can go to the top of the wall, eat it – and carry there, as well. The fruit, however, cannot be carried down into the houses in the courtyards. What if the wall is less than four tefahim thick?
Rav said: In this case, the air of two domains controls it. Since the wall is not broad enough to be regarded a domain of its own, the top of the wall is seen as belonging to both courtyards and is then prohibited to both of them. Accordingly, one may not move anything on top of the wall, even as much as a hair’s breadth. And Rabbi Yohanan said: These residents of one courtyard may raise food from their courtyard to the top of the wall and eat it there, and they may lower the food from the wall to the courtyard; and those residents of the other courtyard may raise food from their courtyard and eat it there, and they may lower the food from the wall to the courtyard. This is because the wall is considered nonexistent, and its domain is viewed as part of the two courtyards.
Rabbi Yohanan’s reference to an exempt domain (makom petur) is a well-known halakha, and the Gemara reacts with surprise to the suggestion that Rav does not accept it. In explanation, the Gemara distinguishes between rabbinic domains and Biblical domains. With regard to Biblical domains like public and private areas, Rav fully accepts the rule of makom petur. With regard to rabbinic domains, like a courtyard, which Biblically is considered private, and only rabbinically needs to arrange an eiruv, Rav argues that “the Sages reinforced their statements even more than those of the Torah.” It sounds odd to suggest that the Sages were stricter with rabbinic ordinances than with Biblical prohibitions. Tosafot explain that this does not mean that they are taken more seriously. Rather, recognizing that the public is apt to be more careful about Biblical commands than rabbinic ones, they were more inclined to establish measures to protect the integrity of regulations established by the Rabbis. At the same time the Sages limited this rule and did not apply it in situations that are uncommon or in areas of halakha like monetary matters.
Eiruvin 76a-b: Windows of Circles and Squares
24/10/2020 - 6th of Cheshvan, 5781
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The sixth chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin dealt with situations where two courtyards joined together and became one unit for the rules of eiruv and carrying on Shabbat. The seventh perek,which begins on ouropens by discussing cases where hatzeirot (courtyards) that are next to one another either cannot join each other, are obligated to join each other, or are permitted to do so. The first Mishna deals with courtyards that are divided by a wall which has a window in it. If the window is within ten tefahim (handbreadths) of the ground and is minimally four tefahim square in size, then the courtyards can choose whether or not to join as one. If the window is higher than ten tefahim or smaller than four by four, the hatzeirot are considered separate and need to make their own eiruvin. Rabbi Yohanan in the Gemara introduces the possibility of a round window, arguing that it would need to be 24 tefahim in circumference in order to ensure that a square inscribed in that window would be at least four by four. In the ensuing discussion about the relationship between circles and squares, the Gemara explains that Rabbi Yohanan’s position is based on the rule taught by the judges of Caesarea that “a square inscribed within a circle is half of the square.” Later on in the Gemara, Rabbi Yohanan’s position is rejected in its entirety as being based on an error. Rabbi Ya’akov Kahane in his Ge’on Ya’akov argues that Rabbi Yohanan knew that his figures were not accurate, but chose to present a larger than necessary rule so that, in case of a mistake, there would be well over the minimum four by four, leaving room for error. Nevertheless, many attempts have been made to try and explain the mathematical positions presented by these Sages. In explaining the rule of the judges of Caesarea, Tosafot argue that they are discussing the case of a square inscribed in a circle, which, itself, is inscribed in a square. By drawing lines that bisect the outer square, the circle and the inner square, it becomes clear that the inner square is half the size of the outer one. The inner square is made up of four triangles, each of which is half of the four smaller squares that together make up the outer square.
Eiruvin 75a-b: Joining Together in a Courtyard Eiruv
23/10/2020 - 5th of Cheshvan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf discusses the case where there are two courtyards – an outer one that opens to the street and an inner one that opens to the outer one. In the event that the residents of these two hatzeirot (courtyards) put an eiruv in “one place” in order to allow them to be considered one unit – and carry in both of them – if any resident forgets to participate in the eiruv, then carrying will be forbidden in both of the hatzeirot. Rav Yehuda in the name of Rav interprets the term “one place” in the Mishna to mean that the eiruv is placed in the outer courtyard, which is referred to in that way since it is a place that is singular in that it is available for use to members of both hatzeirot. This interpretation is supported by a baraita, which continues and teaches that if the eiruv is placed in the inner courtyard, and one of the outer residents neglected to participate in the eiruv, according to the hakhamim members of the inner courtyard can continue to carry within their hatzer, even though the residents of the outer courtyard no longer have a valid eiruv. This is because the residents of the inner courtyard can figuratively shut the door between the two courtyards and have a valid eiruv just in their hatzer. Furthermore, argues the Gemara, the residents of the inner courtyard can undo their relationship with their partners outside by saying, “We joined with you in a single eiruv to our benefit, and not to our detriment.” A similar statement is made regarding the rules of shlihut – of sending a representative agent – in halakha. The terminology there is almost identical: “I sent you to represent me to improve my situation, not to damage it.” The basis for this is that appointing someone to represent you (and, similarly, to establish an eiruv) is predicated on the assumption that they will represent your best interests, and if they do not, the appointment is void retroactively. Obviously, such an argument cannot be applied in every case, but will only be possible to accept in a case where the shaliah does something inappropriate that was not within his purview. Similarly, in our case, it is the inappropriate behavior of the person in the outer hatzer that allows this argument to be made.
Eiruvin 74a-b: Defining an Alleyway
22/10/2020 - 4th of Cheshvan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara is interested in clarifying the definitions of some of the terms that it uses in describing the courtyards that need eiruvin and the relationships that exist between them. Generally speaking, a mavoy is the closed alleyway into which a number of hatzeirot – courtyards – open. As we have learned, the residents of the courtyards can arrange to carry by placing a symbolic board at the entrance to the mavoy (see 2a-b). According to Rav, this is only the case if a number of courtyards open into the mavoy (that is to say, the mavoy must have at least two courtyards opening into it, and each courtyard needs at least two houses in it), but Shmuel rules that as long as one hatzer and one house opens into the closed area, it is considered a mavoy.
Rav Beruna sat and recited this halakha stated by Shmuel, that an alleyway containing one house and one courtyard can be rendered permitted for carrying by means of a side post or a cross beam. Rabbi Elazar, a student of a Torah academy, said to him: Did Shmuel really say this? Rav Beruna said to him: Yes, he did. He said to him: Show me his lodging and I will go and ask him myself, and he showed him. Rabbi Elazar came before Shmuel and said to him: Did the Master actually say this? Shmuel said to him: Yes, I did. Rabbi Elazar raised the following objection: Wasn’t it the Master himself who said concerning a different issue: With regard to the halakhot of eiruv, we have only the wording of our mishna. The mishna states that an alleyway is to its courtyards like a courtyard is to its houses, which indicates that an alleyway must have at least two courtyards in order to be considered an alleyway and be rendered permitted for carrying through a side post or cross beam. Shmuel was silent and did not answer him.
Shmuel’s silence is not unique in the Gemara; we find many instances where one of the Sages does not respond to a question posed to him. How to interpret the lack of response, though, is not clear. It could be that the Sage does not have an answer to the question, but it could also be that the Sage does not think that the question is a good one, and feels that it does not deserve a response. Some suggest that every question needs to be evaluated according to the relationship between the people involved. Tosafot suggest that if a student asks the question, the silence may simply indicate a rejection of the question. If a peer asks the question, it likely shows that he had no answer. Nevertheless, even if the Sage has no answer to the question, it does not prove that he is retracting his opinion. The question may not be of great importance (in this case, for example, Shmuel may retain his belief that the mavoy does not need two hatzeirot opening into it, and will back away from his general statement about how to read Mishnayot in this tractate), and not strong enough to reject the halakha.
Eiruvin 73a-b: Including Wives and Slaves in an Eiruv
21/10/2020 - 3rd of Cheshvan, 5781
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The Mishna (72b) teaches about children who live in separate dwellings in a courtyard – a hatzer – together with their father. Although they sleep in their own apartments, they eat with their father. If no one else lives in the hatzer, they are considered one family unit and can carry there without an eiruv. If there are other families in the hatzer, there is a need for an eiruv. The Gemara on our daf discusses other cases where members of the same family share residence in a single courtyard.
The Sages taught in a baraita: With regard to one who has five wives who receive a portion from their husband while each living in her own quarters in the courtyard, and five slaves who receive a portion from their master while living in their own lodgings in the courtyard, Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira permits in the case of the wives, i.e., they do not each have to contribute separately to the eiruv, as they are all considered to be residing with their husband. And he prohibits in the case of the slaves, meaning that he holds that as they live in separate houses, each is considered as residing on his own. Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava permits in the case of the slaves, as a slave necessarily follows his master, and he prohibits in the case of the wives, as each woman is significant in her own right, and is not totally dependent on her husband.
The Ra’avad explains that the first position, that allows the wives to be considered part of their husband’s eiruv, is because with regard to many halakhot (Yibum, for example) the wives are considered to be connected, so that whatever applies to one of them applies to all of them. The second opinion, that servants are more connected than the man’s wives, he explains by pointing out that they are considered by the halakha as his property, and therefore fall under his rule, as opposed to his wives who retain their independent status, even as they are supported by him. Most of the rishonim rule like Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava, because the Gemara quotes Rav as bringing a passage from Sefer Daniel (2:49) in explanation of his position, indicating that Rav accepts it. Maimonides, who rules that both wives and servants can rely on the eiruv made by their husband or owner, appears to accept the reasoning behind each argument.
Eiruvin 72a-b: Establishing an Eiruv in a Teraklin
20/10/2020 - 2nd of Cheshvan, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf returns to the subject of eiruvei hatzeirot, which permit people to carry within a closed area on Shabbat. The discussion revolves around several independent groups of people who are staying in a large hall – a teraklin – and subdivide it by putting up partitions between them. Each partitioned room had a separate entrance to a courtyard that was shared with other houses. In the original Latin, a teraklin was a room that contained three couches on which people reclined, but its meaning later expanded to mean any large room for guests.
Beit Shammai say: An eiruv is required for each and every group, i.e., each group must contribute separately to the eiruv of the courtyard, as each is considered a different house. And Beit Hillel say: One eiruv suffices for all of them, as the partitions do not render the different sections separate houses.
In clarifying what types of partitions the Mishna is discussing, a baraita is quoted in the name of Rabbi Yehuda Hasabbar ["the keen"], who teaches that the disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel is only in a case where the partitions do not reach the ceiling. If the partitions do reach the ceiling, then they are considered full-fledged walls, and even Beit Hillel would agree that the people are in separate “houses” and would need to contribute to the eiruv individually. Rashi explains that Rabbi Yehuda Hasabbar was called “hasabbar” because his sevara – his reasoning – was very sharp. Tosafot, however, are inclined to accept one of the variant readings of his name, either “ha-Sabakh”, because he professionally made Sevakhot – a type of netting used in women's hair covering – or “ha-Sakkakh” because he was from the city of Sekhakha. Rabbi Yaakov Emden, in his commentary of the Gemara suggests that Tosafot was surprised by the suggestion that only one of the tannaim would be singled out to receive the approbation “hasabbar” due to his sharpness. As far as the halakha is concerned, the discussion of the Mishna only applies when the groups came for a temporary stay. If these partitioned areas were their permanent homes, they would certainly need an eiruv, even if the partitions did not reach the ceiling. On the other hand, if they were guests of the owner of the house just for Shabbat they would not need an eiruv at all.
Eiruvin 71a-b: A Partnership in Wine
19/10/2020 - 1st of Cheshvan, 5781
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We have learned that in order to create an eiruv that would allow residents of the houses surrounding the courtyard to carry on Shabbat, the residents all need to become partners in food which will legally create a common community among them. The Mishna on our daf discusses a case where a business relationship – a partnership between neighbors – already exists. If a homeowner was in partnership with his neighbors, with this one in wine and with that one in wine, they need not establish an eiruv, for due to their authentic partnership they are considered to be one household, and no further partnership is required. If, however, he was in partnership with this one in wine and with that one in oil, they must establish an eiruv. As they are not partners in the same item, they are not all considered one partnership. Rabbi Shimon says: In both this case and that case, i.e., even if he partners with his neighbors in different items, they need not establish an eiruv. In the Gemara, Rav emphasizes that the case where the business partnership can, itself, be considered an eiruv would only be if the wine was all in one barrel. If, however, there were two separate partnerships, each one with its own barrel of wine, the tanna kamma (first) would not consider that relationship enough to act as an eiruv. Rav Shmuel Strashon in his commentary to the Gemara (known as the Rashash) points out that Rav's explanation is based on the fact that we need to have a relationship between all parties in order for the partnership to have the effect of an eiruv. If one person is a partner separately with each neighbor, we do not have a true "community." Therefore the business partnership will only serve the purpose of an eiruv if all three of them are joined together – by virtue of a single barrel of wine.
Eiruvin 70a-b: Turning Over Inherited Rights
18/10/2020 - 30th of Tishrei, 5781
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We have already learned that in the event that a person did not participate in the eiruv before Shabbat, he can be mevatel reshuto - turn over his rights in the courtyard to the other residents on Shabbat - in order to allow them to carry in the courtyard.
Rava raised a dilemma before Rav Nahman: With regard to an heir, what is the halakha regarding whether he may renounce rights in a courtyard? If a person who had forgotten to establish an eiruv died on Shabbat, may his heir renounce his rights in his stead?
Rava asks Rav Nahman whether someone who inherits property on Shabbat (i.e. his father did not participate in the eiruv and passed away on Shabbat) can do so. The question, as explained by the Gemara, is whether such a person is restricted from turning over his rights on Shabbat, since – as he was not the owner of the house before Shabbat – he could not have done so prior to Shabbat. On the other hand, he is stepping into his father's role regarding this inheritance, which may give him the same rights that his father had, including the right to be mevatel reshuto. It appears that the Gemara is trying to ascertain the status of the child with regard to his inheritance. The question is whether we see him in a role that is similar to a purchaser, in the sense that with his father's passing the property moves from his father's ownership into his possession, or do we view him as actually replacing his father, which would give him all of the powers and benefits that his father possessed with regard to this property. According to this possibility, from a legal perspective, the child would be seen as one-and-the-same as his father regarding the laws of property ownership. Rav Nahman responds that his opinion would be to allow the child who received his inheritance on Shabbat to turn over his rights to the other residents, but points out that the students of Shmuel disagree and do not allow him to do so. Following the rule that with regard to eiruvin we follow the more lenient opinion, the halakha follows the position of Rav Nahman, and regarding these rules the child is seen as stepping into his father's shoes, which allows him to be mevatel reshuto in this case.
Eiruvin 69a-b: Desecrating Shabbat in Public
17/10/2020 - 29th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the Mishna at the beginning of the perek (61b), we learned that a non-Jew cannot participate in an eiruv unless he actually leases his rights to the courtyard to the Jews who are there. This is in contrast to a Jew who can turn over his rights to the other residents – even on Shabbat, if it had not been taken care of prior to Shabbat. Rabban Gamliel introduces the case of a Tzeduki, who seems to have the status of a non-Jew with regard to this halakha. The Gemara on our daf distinguishes between a person who is not Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) privately and one who desecrates Shabbat publicly. The public Shabbat desecrator will be considered a non-Jew with regard to this law, and the residents of the courtyard will have to rent his share of the hatzer (courtyard) in order to create an eiruv for carrying on Shabbat.
The Gemara now relates that a certain person went out with a coral ring into the public domain, and it is prohibited to do so on Shabbat. When he saw Rabbi Yehuda Nesia approaching, he quickly covered it. Although he was desecrating the Shabbat, he did not want the Sage to see it. Rabbi Yehuda Nesia said: A person such as this, who is careful not to desecrate Shabbat in public, may renounce his rights in his courtyard according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda.
(To understand why some jewelry cannot be worn on Shabbat, see Massekhet Shabbat). There are different girsa'ot – variant readings - in the Gemara as to whether the person in the story did this just one time or if he did this on a regular basis. What is clear, however, is that someone who is embarrassed about being seen by a religious leader desecrating Shabbat will not be placed in the category of "Mehalel Shabbat b'farhesya" (public desecrator of the Shabbat). On a biographical note, Rabbi Yehudah Nesi'ah was Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi's grandson – the son of Rabban Gamliel. He was a first generation amora, who was contemporary with Rabbi Yohanan and Resh Lakish. He had the responsibility as Nasi for many years, and was the last of the Nesi'im who was a great Torah scholar and also headed the Sanhedrin at the same time.
Eiruvin 68a-b: Active and Passive Prohibitions
16/10/2020 - 28th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned in yesterday's daf, Abaye was surprised to find that his teacher, Rabba, permitted a non-Jew to be asked to bring hot water to facilitate a brit mila on Shabbat in a place where there was no eiruv. Abaye asked why completing the ritual to purify someone who had become tame which is forbidden on Shabbat by the Sages - cannot be performed even if it is necessary to perform a mitzva (e.g. to sacrifice and eat the Passover sacrifice), yet in our case, asking a non-Jew to bring water for the brit is permitted? The Gemara's response to Abaye's question is that we distinguish between an "active" Rabbinic prohibition and a "passive" one. How to understand this distinction depends on different girsa'ot – variant readings – in the Gemara. The standard text of the Gemara argues that the case of the brit is passive because Rabba did not ask the non-Jew to heat the water, only to bring the water. According to this reading, our case is passive because the activity that was done was just moving something from one place to another, rather than being a creative activity. Rabbenu Hananel has a different text of the Gemara, which does not have the explanation that focused on whether the non-Jew needed to heat the water up. According to this version, the difference is between the Rabbinic decree of Amira la-Akum (asking a non-Jew to perform a forbidden act on Shabbat) and other Rabbinic ordinances, which involve direct activity, not merely speech, which is not considered an active behavior. The Ra'avad argues that this case is unique because it involves two Rabbinic ordinances – a shvut d'shvut. First of all, there is no action, only a request made by speaking. Secondly, the activity performed by the non-Jew – transferring water from the house to the courtyard - is, itself, not forbidden by the Torah, but only by the Rabbis. In this case, where it is necessary in order to perform the brit mila, the Rabbis never would have applied their restrictions.
Eiruvin 67a-b: Making Use of a Non-Jew on Shabbat
15/10/2020 - 27th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara tells a story about a brit mila (circumcision) that was taking place on Shabbat, where the hot water that had been prepared – and were essential to doing the brit properly – spilled. Rabba ordered that more water be brought from the house into the courtyard, but his student, Abaye, argued that a proper eiruv had not been made. Faced with that issue, Rabba suggested that a non-Jew be asked to bring the water. Asking a non-Jew to perform a forbidden act on Shabbat – Amira la-Akum - is, itself, Rabbinically forbidden. The Rosh explains that Rabba suggested making use of the non-Jew only in this case of a circumcision. Since a brit mila has the unique status of pushing aside Shabbat (see Massekhet Shabbat), it is logical that we would permit an act forbidden by the Sages, as well.
Abaye said: I wanted to raise an objection against the Master, Rabba, but Rav Yosef would not let me do so, as Rav Yosef said that Rav Kahana said: When we were in Rav Yehuda’s house, he would say to us when we were presented with a halakhic difficulty: With regard to a Torah law, we first raise objections and then we perform an act, i.e., if someone has an objection to a proposed action, we must first clarify the matter and only then may we proceed. However, with regard to rabbinic laws, we first perform an act and then we raise objections.
After the water had been brought and the circumcision performed, Abaye was asked to present his question. He asked why completing the ritual to purify someone who had become tame (ritually impure) - which is forbidden on Shabbat by the Sages - cannot be performed even if it is necessary to perform a mitzva (e.g. to sacrifice and eat the Passover sacrifice), yet in our case, asking a non-Jew to bring water for the brit is permitted? Abaye's question is particularly powerful because missing the opportunity to participate in the Passover sacrifice was punishable by karet (being cut off from the community), which is also the punishment for neglecting the commandment of circumcision. If anything, we would have anticipated that there is more reason to try and accommodate the person who wants to bring the sacrifice on Passover, since he has to do it on one particular day – the 14th of Nissan – while a child who is not circumcised on the eighth day can have the brit later on, as well. The Gemara's response to Abaye's question is that we distinguish between an "active" Rabbinic prohibition and a "passive" one. In our case, Amira la-Akum is passive, so we are more comfortable pushing it aside when necessary.
Eiruvin 66a-b: Renting From a Non-Jew on Shabbat
14/10/2020 - 26th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara (65b) tells a number of stories that illustrate the rule about renting a non-Jew's rights to the courtyard in order to allow for the creation of an eiruv. In one story, a number of amoraim were staying at an inn, and did not have an opportunity to rent the non-Jew's space prior to Shabbat, simply because he was not around at that time. When he arrived, Shabbat had already begun. A discussion ensued as to whether renting from the non-Jew was similar to establishing an eiruv, which needs to be done before Shabbat begins, or, perhaps, it is more similar to the rule of being mevatel reshut - turning over one's rights in the courtyard to the others in order to allow them to carry - which can be done even on Shabbat.
Rabbi Hanina bar Yosef said: Let us rent, while Rabbi Asi said: Let us not rent. Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba said to them: Let us rely now on the words of the Elder, Rabbi Hanina bar Yosef, and rent. Later they came and asked Rabbi Yohanan about the matter, and he said to them: You acted well when you rented.
A similar story appears in the Jerusalem Talmud, where it is recorded that in response to Rabbi Yohanan's comment "it is a good thing that you arranged to rent it" Resh Lakish said "it is not a good thing." The ensuing discussion in the Jerusalem Talmud revolves around whether this is a disagreement about the halakha. One opinion is that Rabbi Yohanan feels that such a transaction can be done on Shabbat, permitting the eiruv, while Resh Lakish rules that it cannot be done on Shabbat and any such arrangement must be concluded prior to Shabbat. The other opinion understands that Resh Lakish did not fully understand what had taken place, and he thought that they had not concluded a rental agreement at all. His statement was "it is not a good thing that you carried." In any case, the accepted halakha (see Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 383) allows for such an arrangement to be made with a non-Jew even on Shabbat in order to facilitate carrying.
Eiruvin 65a-b: Jewish Law’s Views on Drinking
13/10/2020 - 25th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As a side point to an earlier discussion (64a) Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel as teaching that a judge should not rule on cases if he has drunk a revi'it (one quarter if a log) of wine. This statement leads to a lengthy discussion in the Gemara of the ramifications in Jewish law of drinking, and distinctions made between drinking moderately and reaching "the drunkenness of Lot" (see Bereshit 19:30-36).
Rabbi Hanina said: They taught that an intoxicated person is responsible for all his actions only in a case where he did not reach the state of intoxication of Lot; however, if he reached the state of intoxication of Lot, so that he is altogether unaware of his actions, he is exempt from all liability.
According to Rabbi Hanina, someone who reaches that level of inebriation will not be held responsible for his actions, as he is not merely impaired in his decision-making capabilities, rather he is unable to function as a thinking person. Someone who has not reached that level is still held responsible for his actions, although the halakha will free him from his obligation in prayer – which demands a high level of concentration and reverence. Throughout the Talmud, the Gemara points to drinking wine as an activity that can lead to damage, sin, etc. The Ein Ya'akov, written by Rav Ya'akov ibn Habib, explains that this brings to the fore a basic question: If it is so dangerous, why was wine created? This quandary helps explain the closing discussion of the Gemara, which sings the praises of drinking wine responsibly. Included are a number of such statements – some of them based on biblical passages: Rabbi Hanina – Whoever becomes more open and comfortable with others after having a drink of wine, is walking in God's footsteps Rabbi Hiyya – anyone who drinks, but does not get drunk, has the wisdom of seventy sages. Rabbi Hanina bar Papa – You are not blessed unless wine flows in your house like water. The Gemara concludes with Rabbi Ilai's maxim: A man's character can be recognized by his behavior regarding three things – B'koso - his drinking, does he drink responsibly? B'kiso - his spending, when he has money, does he apportion it correctly? B'ka'aso - his anger, can he control himself, even when angry?
Eiruvin 64a-b: Passing Judgment on Halakhic Rulings
12/10/2020 - 24th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
With regard to the question of how to establish an eiruv for a courtyard where a non-Jew lives (one who is not interested in cooperating by leasing his part of the courtyard to the Jewish residents), Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel suggests that, if necessary, a legal fiction can be created. One of the Jews can ask his permission to use the courtyard for some other purpose – storage, for example – and then can act as an agent for the non-Jew to establish the eiruv. Upon hearing this suggestion, Rav Nahman commented that it was an excellent halakhic statement. The Gemara quotes another unrelated statement of Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel, which says that someone who drinks a revi'it of wine should not rule on issues of halakha, until he has recovered from its intoxicating effects. Upon hearing this, Rav Nahman commented that it was a poor halakhic statement. Rav Nahman claimed that his personal experience was that until he drank a revi'it of wine he was not able to think clearly. Upon hearing Rav Nahman’s reactions to the statements of Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel, Rava pointed out the homiletic teaching based on the passage in Mishlei (29:3) – “He who loves wisdom gladdens his father, but he who keeps company with prostitutes (zonot) wastes his fortune” – that someone who says “this teaching is pleasant [zo na’a], but this is not pleasant,” will lose the fortune of Torah. Rav Nahman accepts Rava’s rebuke and commits to refrain from passing such judgment on the future. Rashi in Mishlei explains the homiletic teaching as being based on the fact that this is the only time in Tanakh that the word “Zonot” is written with full vowels. Thus the interpretation is to break the word in half – zo na’ot – “this is pleasant.” Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what appears attractive to one person is seen otherwise by another, with regard to halakhot it is inappropriate to say that one statement is beautiful and another is not. The Meiri explains that even as choices need to be made in order to establish the halakha, it is inappropriate to state that one position is unpleasant; rather we accept one and reject the other based on objective criteria.
Eiruvin 63a-b: Showing Respect for a Teacher in His Presence
11/10/2020 - 23th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On the previous daf the Gemara set down a rule that we always follow the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov. This rule leads to a discussion that focuses on whether a student is permitted to make a decision that follows Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov without deferring to his teacher. Generally speaking, a student was not permitted to issue rulings on issues of halakha in the presence – or place – of his teacher, a tradition that stemmed from a concern for the teacher’s honor. Some argue that ruling in the place of one’s teacher is tantamount to a rebellion again the king – mored be-malkhut – which would mean that even were the student to receive permission, it would be forbidden for him to rule. An example of a tradition that exemplifies this concern is that the shohet, the ritual slaughterer, would give his knife to the Rabbi of the community to check, even if he himself was a learned and knowledgeable person. The Gemara tells of a group of Rabbis in Rav Aha bar Ya’akov’s city who, while preparing a calf for slaughter, argued among themselves whether it was necessary to show the knife to Rav Aha bar Ya’akov.
Rav Abba bar Tahalifa said to them: Should we not be concerned with the respect of the Elder, Rav Aha bar Ya’akov, and present the knife to him for inspection, as this is his town? Rabbi Elazar from Hagronya said to them: That is unnecessary, since Rava said as follows: A Torah scholar may examine a knife for himself. Rabbi Elazar from Hagronya then inspected the knife, but he was later punished at the hand of Heaven for disregarding the honor of the senior rabbi. The Gemara expresses surprise: What was Rabbi Elazar from Hagronya’s mistake? Didn’t Rava say: A Torah scholar may examine a slaughtering knife for himself? The Gemara answers: It was different there, as they had already begun to discuss the issue of the honor of Rav Aha bar Ya’akov. Had the name of Rav Aha bar Ya’akov never arisen, they would have been permitted to examine the knife themselves. Once his name had been mentioned, however, they should have approached him with the knife. Their failure to do so is considered a display of disrespect. And if you wish, say instead: Rav Aha bar Ya’akov is different, as he was illustrious in age and wisdom, and thus deserved more honor than a regular Sage.
Rav Aha bar Yaakov was a second generation Babylonian amora who lived long enough to interact with Abaye and Rava, who were fourth century amoraim. He was well known for his piety and for miracles that took place on his behalf. His students included Rav Papa and his nephew Rav Aha the son of Rav Ika.
Eiruvin 62a-b: Establishing an Eiruv in a Courtyard
10/10/2020 - 22th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The sixth chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin returns to the discussion of eiruvei hatzeirot – the laws that regulate how to arrange to permit residents of a courtyard to carry within it. In particular, this chapter focuses on the residents themselves. All of the residents need to participate in the eiruv, but if one of them did not participate, even on Shabbat he can rectify the matter by ceding his ownership to another resident who did participate. One of the central questions dealt with is who is considered a resident of the courtyard for the purpose of creating the eiruv, and what needs to be done if someone does not want to participate. The Mishna (61b) brings a disagreement between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov. Both agree that a non-Jew who lives in the courtyard will need to actually lease his part of the courtyard to the others in order to allow them to establish an eiruv. Rabbi Meir feels that this is necessary, even if there is only one Jew living in the courtyard; Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov deems this necessary only if there are two or more Jewish residents. This disagreement does not really stem from the rules of eiruv. They both agree, in principle, that the non-Jew’s presence in the courtyard does not require his participation in the eiruv. Rather, this is a Rabbinic decree whose purpose is to discourage Jews from taking up residence in a courtyard with non-Jews. Rabbi Meir believes that this decree always applies, but Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov points to the fact that it would be unusual for a Jew to live alone with non-Jews in their courtyard, due to his fear of the non-Jews. Therefore there was no need to establish a Rabbinic decree for such an unusual situation. The Gemara lists several amoraim who rule like Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov, culminating in Abayye’s statement to Rav Yosef that the tradition is that the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov are kav v’naki – short, but clear and perfect – so we follow them in every area of halakha. The principle that the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov are kav v’naki appears several times in the Gemara. There is some discussion about how broad a ruling it is. Does it apply only to his teachings that appear in the Mishna, or in baraitot, as well? Is it only true against one adversary, or even against a group? The conclusion seems to be that we will always follow the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov. Tradition has it that his teachings appear 102 times in the Talmud – matching the Gematria of the word “Kav,” and that his opinion is accepted in every one of those cases.
Eiruvin 61a-b: Placing an Eiruv in a Neighboring City
09/10/2020 - 21th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Although we have been discussing the limitation of travel beyond 2,000 amot throughout Massekhet Eiruvin, that applies only outside the city limits. If one resides in a large city, the entire city is considered to have the status of daled amot – four cubits – and one can walk wherever he wants in it. This is also true if two cities are within 2,000 amot of one another. In such a case, were one to place his eiruv in the neighboring city, he would be permitted to walk anywhere in that city – even if it is well beyond the normal 2,000 ama limit. The Mishna also brings the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, who argues that movement within the larger city for people who are coming from a neighboring city would be limited to 2,000 amot from their eiruv, even within the precincts of the city. Rabbi Akiva’s opinion is not accepted as the halakha. To illustrate this, the Gemara tells of people who were arranging their eiruv in a neighboring city so that they would be able to travel there on Shabbat.
The Gemara relates that Mar Yehuda once found the residents of Mavrakhta placing their eiruvin in the synagogue of Beit Agovar. He said to them: Place your eiruv farther into the synagogue, so that more will be permitted to you, as the Shabbat limit is measured from the spot where the eiruv is deposited. Mar Yehuda holds that even when an eiruv is placed in an inhabited city, the two thousand cubits are measured from the location of the eiruv rather than from the edge of the city. Rava said to him: Argumentative one [palga'ah]! With regard to the halakhot of eiruv, nobody is concerned about this opinion of Rabbi Akiva, as the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis. Consequently, no matter where one places his eiruv in a city, the entire city is considered as though it were four cubits, and he is permitted to walk two thousand cubits beyond the edge of the city.
The Aruk defines palga’ah as someone always looking for a fight who took up positions that were not generally accepted. Rashi explains the term to mean that he was known to argue with the Sages, who, in this case, had already ruled that the halakha follows the lenient position. The example of a large city that appears in the Gemara is Antioch, about which the baraita teaches that someone who establishes his Shabbat there can walk its full length and breadth, its size notwithstanding. Antioch in Northern Syria was one of the largest cities in the world during the ancient period. Since it was built over a period of time – and, at its peak, was actually composed of four separate, joined cities – it was not well planned, part of the reason that it covered such a large area. During the Talmudic period, about 600,000 people lived there.
Eiruvin 60a-b: Eiruvim on a Straight Line and at an Angle
08/10/2020 - 20th of Tishrei, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf teaches: One who was to the east of his home when Shabbat began, and he had said to his son before Shabbat: Establish an eiruv for me to the west; or if he was to the west of his home and he had said to his son: Establish an eiruv for me to the east, the halakha is as follows: If there is a distance of two thousand cubits from his current location to his house, and the distance to his eiruv is greater than this, he is permitted to walk to his house, and from there he may walk two thousand cubits in every direction, but it is prohibited for him to walk to the spot where his son had deposited his eiruv.
So if he is within 2,000 amot of his house, but the eiruv is further away than 2,000 amot, he can go to his house, but not to his eiruv. Similarly, if he is within 2,000 amot of his eiruv, but his house is further away than 2,000 amot, he can go to his eiruv, but not to his house. The Gemara opens with the assumption that the man, his house and his eiruv are in a straight line, creating the situation where the man can walk to his house, but cannot continue past his house to the eiruv. In effect, since he is not within 2,000 amot of the eiruv that was established on his behalf, the eiruv cannot take effect at all. He is, therefore, limited to the 2,000-ama radius around him. Since his house is within that radius, he can go there – but no further. The difficulty with this interpretation of the Mishna is that the second case is hard to understand. If the man, his house and his eiruv are on a straight line, how can he possibly be closer to his eiruv than to his house? Rava bar Rav Sheila suggests a different way to understand this case: If the man is to the east of his house and the eiruv is placed to the west of the house, but rather than being on a straight line, they are at an angle from one another, we can have a situation where the man is actually closer to his eiruv than to his house. In such a case the eiruv will take effect and the individual will be able to walk to his eiruv, and, indeed, 2,000 amot beyond his eiruv, as well.
Eiruvin 59a-b: Eiruv Status of a Public City vs. a Private City
07/10/2020 - 19th of Tishrei, 5781
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The Mishna on today’s daf returns us to the question of eiruvei hatzeirot and teaches that a city which once belonged to an individual but became a public city can still have a single eiruv to permit carrying in the city, as it is still perceived as a single hatzer (courtyard). If, on the other hand, a city that once was public became a private city, a single eiruv cannot be made unless an area is left outside the eiruv, so that the rules of eiruv will not be forgotten. There are a number of explanations of what constitutes a private city. According to Rashi, it means that there are not 600,000 residents, so it is not a reshut ha-rabim, a public domain. (According to Rashi, in order to be considered a reshut ha-rabim the city needs to be similar in number to the encampment of the Israelites in the desert.) The Mishna teaches that even when the number of residents reaches 600,000, the original eiruv will still be valid. The Rashba and Ritva understand that the city was actually owned by a single individual who leased space to others. Even if it is sold later on to a number of people, its original status as a private city gives it a unique status. The discussion of eiruv hatzeirot in our Mishna appears to be out of place in our chapter, whose focus is eiruvei tehumim. This halakha really belongs in one of the earlier chapters of Massekhet Eiruvin. One suggestion is that this is a segue from the previous Mishna (58b), which taught that we can trust the memory of local people – even a slave or maid-servant – to testify how far the tehum Shabbat was outside the city. In our case, as well, the power of memory plays a role in establishing the city as either public or private, and that memory carries weight in halakha, even if the situation has changed.
Eiruvin 58a-b: Measuring With a Coconut Plant
06/10/2020 - 18th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of study of Massekhet Eiruvin, the Mishna and Gemara have continuously referred to measurements of 2,000 amot out of the city. How were those measurements done? The Mishna (57b-58a) teaches that measurements were taken with ropes of 50 amot, which allowed for accurate measuring over most obstacles. The Gemara on our daf suggests that the passage (Shmot 27:18) describing the length and width of the Mishkan is the source for this idea.
Rabbi Asi said: One may measure only with a rope of afsakima. The Gemara asks: What is afsakima? Rabbi Abba said: It is the nargila plant. This name was also not widely known, and therefore the Gemara asks: What is nargila? Rabbi Ya'akov said: A palm tree that has only one fibrous vine wrapped around it. Some say a different version of the previous discussion, according to which the Gemara asked: What is afsakima? Rabbi Abba said: It is the nargila plant. Rabbi Ya'akov disagreed and said: It is a palm tree with one fibrous vine.
The palm that is referred to is, apparently, the Cocos nucifera, or coconut palm. This tree grows to a height of 30 meters and bears coconuts that can be as large as 20 centimeters in diameter. It is a tree that has been grown since ancient times. In the places where it grows – tropical areas in Asia, as well as islands in the Pacific Ocean – the coconut palm is used for a wide variety of things, including food and drink, cloth, firewood and building. The ropes under discussion in the Gemara are one of a number of ropes that are produced from fibers of the coconut palm. The best ropes are made from the shell of the coconut that is covered with a fibrous layer, from which ropes are braided. These ropes are considered unique in their ability to retain their strength and size, even when they become wet, as they neither stretch nor shrink. This quality is obviously essential for taking proper measurements, and it may explain the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananya in the baraita who says that the ideal measuring instrument would have been iron chains, were it not for the passage (Zechariah 2:5) “…and in his hand was a measuring rope,” which he understands to limit biblical measuring to ropes, rather than other instruments.
Eiruvin 57a-b: Joining Neighboring Cities
05/10/2020 - 17th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Aside from drawing lines around the city that will be the basis for the 2,000 ama boundary for tehum, the Mishna on our daf presents the position of Rabbi Meir who believes that a karpaf (an additional enclosure outside the city) of about 70 amot should be drawn around the city, and measuring the 2,000 amot should begin from there. The Hakhamim disagree, ruling that such a karpaf would only play a role if two cities are close enough that an additional area such as that could connect them, making them one city. Rava in the Gemara explains that the source for the idea of adding an area outside the city that is considered part of the city for the purposes of tehum is the passage (Bamidbar 35:4-5) that discusses how the cities of the Levites were to be set up upon entering the Land of Israel. The passage instructs "from the wall of the city and outwards…and you should measure outside the city, to the east 2,000 amot…" From this we see that before the measurements begin, an area is added "outwards" beyond the walls of the city. Although the amount that is to be added does not appear in the Torah, the Ra'avad explains that the Gemara assumes that we will add the area of a normal courtyard – that is, the hatzer (courtyard) of the Mishkan. The Ritva understands that the Hakhamim in the Mishna reject Rabbi Meir's interpretation of the passage entirely. They do not believe that anything can be learned from the Levite cities for our purposes. When they allow two cities that are nearby one-another to be considered joined for the purpose of tehum, it is based simply on the closeness of the cities, not on the passage in Bamidbar. The Jerusalem Talmud, however, understands the disagreement between Rabbi Meir and the Hakhamim to be based on that biblical passage. According to Rabbi Meir, we learn from it that every city has an invisible addition around it. In arguing with him, the Hakhamim read the passage "from the wall of the city and outwards…" to mean that we measure from the wall of the city in normal cases. In a case where two cities are neighboring one-another, then we look "outwards" as well, by adding the additional karpafs to them.
Eiruvin 56a-b: Measuring the Shabbat Limit Using the Sun and Stars
04/10/2020 - 16th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
With regard to the measurements of a city's boundaries, the Sages taught the following baraita: If, in order to measure the Shabbat limit, one comes to square a city, i.e., to extend the city's boundaries to include all of its protrusions within an imaginary square, he squares it so that the sides of the square align with the four directions of the world. He sets the northern side of the square to align with the north of the world, and its southern side to align with the south of the world. And your sign by which you can recognize the directions of the world is as follows: The constellation of Ursa Major is in the north and Scorpio is in the south. The directions of the city are determined by these constellations.
The Great Bear (Ursa major) – referred to by the Gemara as agala, "wagon" - will always be seen in the north. In the south, the Gemara appears to referring to the constellation Scorpius. While the northern constellations are constant and will always be visible in the Northern Hemisphere, Scorpius can only be seen during the summer months, and it does not always appear due south. It is likely that for this reason the Gemara gives other suggestions for establishing the directions. Rabbi Yose suggests that the directions can be ascertained based on the rising and setting of the sun. His suggestion is based on the fact that the earth spins at an angle as it rotates around the sun. Therefore, the seasons are not equal to one another in the length of days and nights, or where the sun will rise and set. The dates mentioned by the Gemara are as follows:
  • September 23 - Sunrise, due East; Sunset, due West
  • December 22 (shortest day) - Sunrise, 27" 55' Southeast; Sunset, 27" 55' Southwest
  • March 21 - Sunrise, due East; Sunset, due West
  • June 22 (longest day) - Sunrise, 27" 55' Northeast; Sunset, 27" 55' Northwest
Rav Yose's suggestion is to follow the sun on the equinox (September 23 and March 21) to learn the directions of east and west and on the solstice (December 22 and June 22) to learn the directions of north and south. The Jerusalem Talmud also suggests making use of the rising and setting sun, but suggests a much simpler approach. If you track sunrise from the shortest day of the year to the longest day of the year, the place between those two angles is East. Similarly the place between the setting of the sun in summer and winter is West. Rav Mesharshiya objects to the principles laid out in the baraita. The Meiri explains that Rav Mesharshiya recognized that the sun never rises or sets at a precise north-east or south-west angle. Shmuel presents his understanding of the seasons, based on a perfect 365.25 solar year. A more precise approach to this matter is that of Rav Adda, who believed that the solar year is slightly shorter than that.
Eiruvin 55a-b: Establishing Boundaries for Differently Shaped Cities
03/10/2020 - 15th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On this daf the Gemara examines how lines are to be drawn around different types of cities in order to establish their boundaries. A Tosefta is quoted that presents several cases.
  1. A round city gets a square drawn around the circle
  2. A city that is wider on one side than the other will be "boxed off" - the two sides are considered of equal length, adding to the narrow side to form a square
  3. If there are dwelling places at the edge of the city, the lines will be drawn so that those houses are included
  4. If the city is shaped like a bow or like the Greek letter Gamma, we view the empty space as though it were filled with houses.
Regarding the last case, Rav Huna comments that the ruling will be different if the empty area between the two ends of the city is larger than 4,000 amot. If there are less than four thousand cubits between the two ends of the bow, so that the Shabbat limits measured from the two ends of the city overlap, the interior space of the bow is regarded as if it were filled with houses, and one measures the Shabbat limit of the city from the imaginary bowstring stretched between the two ends of the bow. But if that is not the case, and the distance between the two ends of the bow is four thousand cubits or more, one measures the Shabbat limit from the bow itself.
The question raised by the rishonim about Rav Huna's ruling is that we learned in the Mishna that dwelling places extending beyond the normal city lines will cause the tehum (=boundary) to be extended, so that they should be included. Shouldn't that rule apply to the case of the bow-shaped city, as well? The Ra'avad accepts this argument and rules that even in the case of the Mishna we will not extend the boundaries of the city if the dwelling places beyond the city are not within 4,000 amot of one-another. The Rashba explains that the extra dwelling places will naturally be spread out throughout the city and its environs, while the city shaped like a bow, will, by definition, continue to develop in that shape and direction.
Eiruvin 54a-b: Learning a Lesson From Travels in the Wilderness
02/10/2020 - 14th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
A fairly common occurrence in the Babylonian Talmud is a segue from the discussion of halakha to aggada. This daf in its entirety, is made up of a collection of homilies based on passages in Tanakh. As an example, the Gemara brings Rav Mattana's drasha (=exposition) on the passage (Bamidbar 21:18) U'mi-midbar Mattana – describing the Jewish People's travels through the desert to a place called Mattana on their way to the Land of Canaan. Rav Mattana explains this to mean that if a person behaves in a humble manner, that he allows himself to be like a wilderness which is open for all to walk through, he will be rewarded with success in his studies. To illustrate this homily further, the Gemara tells the story of Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama who was estranged from his friend and teacher, Rav Yosef. The day before Yom Kippur he went to Rav Yosef to try and come to some reconciliation. As he arrived, he found Rav Yosef's servant preparing a drink for his master, and Rava offered to prepare the drink in his stead and bring it to Rav Yosef. Rav Yosef – who was blind – tasted the drink and immediately commented that it was diluted more than usual, just like Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama used to prepare it. This allowed Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama to introduce himself. Rav Yosef asked him to interpret the passage in Bamidbar (21:18) that listed the stops of the Children of Israel on their way to Israel. Based on word-play, making use of the root of each place-name, Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama presented the following explanation:
Rava said to him: If a person makes himself humble like this wilderness, which is open to all and upon which everyone treads, the Torah will be given to him as a gift [mattana]. And once it is given to him as a gift, he inherits it [nehalo] and God [El] makes it His inheritance, as it is stated: "And from Mattanah to Nahaliel." And once God has made it His inheritance, he rises to greatness, as it is stated: "And from Nahaliel to Bamoth," which means heights. And if he becomes haughty, the Holy One, Blessed be He, lowers him, as it is stated: "And from Bamoth to the valley." And if he repents, the Holy One, Blessed be He, raises him back up, as it is stated: "Every valley shall be exalted" (Isaiah 40:4).
In effect, Rav Yosef's request to interpret the passage offered an opening for Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama to apologize. The disagreement that led to their estrangement is described in the Gemara Nedarim 55a, when Rava sent a question to Rav Yosef. Unhappy with the answer that he received in response, he said that it was useless to him, as the original question still remained. Rav Yosef took offense, saying "if you don't need me, don't send me any more questions." From the apology that appears in our Gemara, clearly Rava came to recognize the folly of his arrogant behavior.