Talmud

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Eiruvin 51a-b: Poor and Rich for the Purposes of Establishing an Eiruv
29/09/2020 - 11th of Tishrei, 5781
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The Mishna (49b) taught that a traveler can announce that he is establishing his place for Shabbat at a certain tree that is within 2,000 amot to the city. This allows him to reach his home in the city even after Shabbat has begun. According to the Mishna, this ruling is based on the principle that "a poor man can establish an eiruv with his feet," meaning that he does not need to place food for two meals as an eiruv if he establishes his place based on his physical presence there. On this ruling, the Mishna brings a disagreement between Rabbi Meir, who limits it to a poor person - but a rich person would need to make his eiruv with food - and Rabbi Yehuda, who says that both rich and poor people can establish their eiruv by walking to the spot. According to Rabbi Yehuda, making an eiruv by using food is a leniency shown to the rich person, to save him the trouble of having to walk to the place of the eiruv before Shabbat. The argument between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda is analyzed by the Gemara on our daf. The Rashba explains that the use of the terms "rich" and "poor" is not to be understood literally. The traveler in the Mishna is considered "poor" because he is on the road and likely does not have access to two meals worth of food. Anyone sitting at home would be considered "rich" as far as the case of the Mishna is concerned. This explanation is essential in order to explain a case brought in the Gemara by Rabbi Yehuda to prove his position.
Rabbi Yehuda said: There was an incident involving members of the household of the Memel family and members of the household of the Guryon family in the village of Aroma, who were distributing dried figs and raisins to the paupers in years of famine, and the paupers of the village of Sihin and the paupers of the village of Hananya would come to the edge of the Shabbat limit at nightfall, which was also within the Shabbat limit of Aroma, and then go home. The following day they would rise early and go to receive their figs and raisins. Apparently, one can establish an eiruv by foot, if he says: My residence is in my present location.
The poor who lived in the neighboring villages of Sihin and Hananya would walk to the edge of the tehum in the late afternoon on Friday, so that they would be able to walk to Aroma on Shabbat morning. If we are to understand that the "poor" person under discussion was literally poor, this case would prove nothing – even Rabbi Meir agrees that poor people do not need to use food to establish their eiruv. Apparently the poor people of Shihin and Hananya who were coming from their homes were not considered poor, since they had some food at home, so their establishing their tehum by their physical presence supports Rabbi Yehuda's position that even the "rich" can establish the eiruv in that way.
Eiruvin 50a-b: Establishing an Eiruv in Two Directions
28/09/2020 - 10th 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.
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Generally speaking, tannaim can argue with tannaim, and amoraim can argue with amoraim. Amoraim – who are perceived as being further from the source of the halakha than tannaim – cannot argue with their predecessors. Thus, one of the methods used by the Gemara to establish halakha is to examine the opinions of the amoraim in the face of statements of tannaim. On today's daf, the Gemara attempts to determine whether the halakha follows the position of Rav or Shmuel (in their disagreement about how to interpret the Mishna’s ruling about the individual who declares that he is establishing his Shabbat “beneath the tree” that is 2,000 amot away – see daf 49) by quoting baraitot that appear to support one or the other.
A baraita was taught in accordance with the opinion of Shmuel. If one erred and established an eiruv in two directions at once, for example, if in his ignorance he imagined that it is permitted to establish an eiruv in two directions, that he may extend the distance that he may walk on Shabbat in two opposite directions, or if he said to his servants: Go out and establish an eiruv for me, without specifying the direction, and one established an eiruv for him to the north, and one established an eiruv for him to the south, he may walk to the north as far as he is permitted go based on his eiruv to the south, and he may walk to the south as far as he is permitted go based on his eiruv to the north. In other words, the assumption is that he established residence in both directions based on the eiruv in each direction, and he must therefore take both into consideration before moving.
This seems to support Shmuel’s contention that even if the place established for Shabbat is not fully clear, the area that does fall into the person’s declaration is accessible to him. The Gemara has no response to defend Rav against this baraita. Rather than establishing the halakha like Shmuel, though, the Gemara responds Rav tanna hu, u'palig – Rav has the status of a tanna, and can argue. Some understand this statement to mean that Rav was considered so important that he was permitted to disagree with the opinion presented in the baraita. It is likely, however, that the Gemara is saying that Rav really was a tanna! Rav Hai Gaon claims that Rav’s opinion actually appears several times in baraitot, under the name “Rabbi Abba” (see daf 12). Nevertheless, Rav is considered, at the same time, an amora, in that we find that his contemporaries who were first generation amoraim (e.g. Shmuel and Rabbi Yohanan) argue with him, and that their positions are sometimes accepted as the halakha. Still, his position cannot be disproved by a baraita. It is generally accepted that the Gemara only uses the answer Rav Tanna hu, u’palig when it does not have a substantive response to the question.
Eiruvin 49a-b: Establishing Shabbat Beneath a Tree
27/09/2020 - 9th of Tishrei, 5781
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If a person is traveling on Friday afternoon and realizes that it is almost Shabbat, the Mishna teaches that he can declare that he is establishing his Shabbat “at the trunk of the tree” that is 2,000 amot away, and he is then able to walk to that tree and continue to his house that is 2,000 amot beyond the tree. If, however, he said that he is establishing Shabbat “beneath the tree,” the Mishna teaches that he accomplishes nothing, since his statement was not clear enough.
The Gemara discusses what the Mishna means when it says that nothing is accomplished in the case where the man says that he is establishing his Shabbat “beneath the tree.” Rav said: He has not said anything at all, and has failed to establish residence anywhere, and he may not even go to the place beneath that tree. His failure to specify a particular location prevents him from establishing residence beneath the tree. The fact that he sought to establish residence someplace other than his present location prevents him from establishing residence at his present location. Accordingly he may walk no more than four cubits from the place that he is standing. And Shmuel said: He has not said anything with regard to going to his home, if it is two thousand cubits past the tree; however, with regard to the area beneath the tree, if its bough is entirely within two thousand cubits of his present location he may indeed go there. At that point, according to Shmuel, he becomes the proverbial “donkey-camel driver” (see daf 35) who is limited by his situation to just 2,000 amot between the two points.
Rashi brings two approaches to Shmuel’s ruling: When a person declares that he is establishing his Shabbat “under the tree” it is unclear which part of the tree he is choosing. Since his house is 2,000 amot beyond the trunk of the tree, perhaps he is establishing his Shabbat at the edge of the tree that is too far away from his house. When he declares his Shabbat in a place that is not clearly specified, we are not certain what he means, and therefore it is not clear whether his basic tehum is where he is at the moment of his declaration or if he succeeded in moving it to the tree. He can, therefore, move back and forth between the original spot and the tree, but no further. Maimonides appears to understand Shmuel’s ruling differently. According to him, the man who makes this declaration is not at all successful in establishing a new place for Shabbat, so he remains with a 2,000 cubit radius from his original point. That allows him to walk to the tree, but no further than that.
Eiruvin 48a-b: Defining an Ama
26/09/2020 - 8th of Tishrei, 5781
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In the disagreement between Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri and the hakhamim (Mishna, 45a) the hakhamim limited the movement of the person who awakened on Shabbat to the surrounding four cubits. The Gemara now returns to the opinion of the hakhamim and asks for the source of four cubits as being the limit for someone who is not allowed to move at all.
The Gemara inquires about the basis of this law: These four cubits within which a person is always permitted to walk on Shabbat, where are they written in the Torah? The Gemara answers: As it was taught in a baraita: The verse “Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day” (Shemot 16:29), means one must restrict his movement to an area equal to his place.
The passage that is presented as the source for this rule is shevu ish tahtav – “remain every man in his place,” which refers to the time when the manna fell and the Children of Israel were instructed to refrain from going out to collect it on Shabbat. The word tahtav literally means “under him,” and the Gemara presents this as the source for limiting movement to the area of a person lying down – three cubits – together with another cubit that allows him room to stretch out his arms and legs (according to Rabbi Meir) or to move an object from beneath his feet and place it under his head (according to Rabbi Yehuda). In an attempt to clarify this rule, Rav Mesharshiya tells his son to ask Rav Pappa whether the amot under discussion in the Mishna are subjective and differ for each person (the word ama means an arms-length – the distance from his elbow to the tip of his index finger), or if they are an objective size that is the same for everyone. Rav Mesharshiya supplied him with follow-up questions to ask on whatever answer he received. Were he told that amot are objective, he was to ask whether the same size would apply to Og the king of Bashan (see Devarim 3:11); were he told that amot are subjective, he was to ask why this rule does not appear with other such rules in the list (Mishna Kelim 17:11) of halakhot that differ from one person to another. Rav Pappa is, apparently, taken aback by the question, and responds that were we to try to read Mishnayot so closely in an attempt to infer such things, we would never have time to learn. This reaction probably stems from the fact that Rav Mesharshiya’s questions do not stem from the Mishna itself, but are based on an attempt to read things into the Mishna that are not clearly indicated there. Rav Pappa is suggesting that such attempts to read into the Mishna are misguided, since there may be a variety of reasons for a particular phrase to be chosen for use in the Mishna – based on style, for example – and trying to extract a halakha from such an inference may lead to mistaken conclusions or internal contradictions. Rav Pappa does answer the question, though, and rules that an ama is subjective, based on the size of the person. However, there are exceptions, such as a person whose arms are disproportionately small for his body, where the amot will be based on the standard, objective measurement of an ama. This is why the rule does not appear in the list of subjective halakhot in the Mishna Kelim.
Eiruvin 47a-b: A Marital Waiting Period
25/09/2020 - 7th 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.
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Although the Gemara related a series of rules of which Sage’s opinion to follow when there are disagreements (see 46a-b), Rav Mesharshiya rejects these rules out-of-hand. The Gemara lists a number of cases that may act as a source for Rav Mesharshiya’s position. One of the cases involves a gezeira obligating a woman to a three-month waiting period between the end of one marriage and the beginning of another. The Mishna in Yevamot (41a) teaches that a yevama – a woman whose husband died, leaving her childless, and whose brother-in-law (her late husband’s brother) is obligated by the Torah to take her as his wife – should neither marry him nor undergo the halitza ceremony that will allow her to marry someone else, until three months have passed since her husband’s death. This rule applies to cases aside from Yevamot, including cases of divorce or widowhood where there are children from the first marriage. The purpose of the Rabbinic injunction obligating a three-month wait between marriages is to ascertain beyond any doubt the parentage of any possible child born to the woman in question. We want to make sure that we know whether her first husband is the father of the child, or if it is the second one. The choice of three months stems from a number of different considerations. Based on the Biblical story (Bereishit 37) of Yehuda and Tamar, it is clear that, at three months, a pregnancy can become visible. Also, based on the Gemara’s tradition that there are two types of pregnancy – a seven month pregnancy and a nine-month pregnancy (see Shabbat 129-135). According to that assumption, were the woman permitted to remarry immediately, we would not know whether the newborn is a nine-month baby from the first marriage or a seven-month baby from the second marriage. The three-month waiting period clarifies who is the true father.
Eiruvin 46a-b: Rules for Settling a Disagreement
24/09/2020 - 6th 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.
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Regarding the disagreement between Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri and the hakhamim (see 45a-b), Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi quotes Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi as saying that we follow Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri. Rabbi Zeira asks whether this ruling is based on a tradition about this particular case, or if it is based on the general principle taught by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that we follow the more lenient position when dealing with questions about eiruv. Rabbi Yaakov bar Idi responds that he had a specific tradition in this case. This exchange leads the Gemara to bring a series of principles about how halakha is decided in cases of disagreements. For example:
  • in a disagreement between Rabbi Akiva and a peer, we follow Rabbi Akiva,
  • in a disagreement between Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Meir, we follow Rabbi Yose,
  • in a disagreement between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda, we follow Rabbi Yehuda.
The rules that establish final verdicts based on the person who authored the position are the product of extensive research and review done by the Sages themselves. Generally speaking, such a ruling indicates that a particular basic concept or principle is the foundation for each tanna’s rulings, so following that specific tanna means that we have accepted his principle as the halakha. Nevertheless, these rules are limited in a number of ways. The Gemara states clearly that if one of the amoraim pronounces a decision that stands in contradiction with one of the general rules of pesak, we accept the amora’s decision. In other words, these rules apply only when no other decision has been handed down. Oftentimes, even if there is no clear decision but the discussion of the Gemara seems to favor one opinion over another, that opinion may be the one accepted as the halakha. Moreover, some say that these rules only apply to areas of halakha that are currently applicable, but regarding other subjects – like rulings about the Temple, etc. – these rules are not accepted at all. Finally, we occasionally find general rules that apply to a given case (e.g. we follow the lenient opinion regarding the rules of eiruv, or we follow the lenient opinion regarding the rules of mourning) that contradict the rule to follow a specific Sage.
Eiruvin 45a-b: Is Rain Limited by the Boundaries of Yom Tov?
23/09/2020 - 5th of Tishrei, 5781
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If someone fell asleep while traveling on Friday afternoon and wakes up to find that Shabbat has already begun, the hakhamim rule that he is limited to just his immediate four amot, since he did not intend to establish his place for Shabbat there. Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri rules that he can walk the full 2,000 amot in any direction, since he does not believe that it is necessary to establish Shabbat residency with specific intent. The discussion of Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri’s position leads to questions about what the ruling is with regard to inanimate objects, as well. Does an ownerless object “establish residency” – thus limiting it for use in a specific area – or not?
Rav Yosef tries to answer this question by quoting a baraita that discusses rainfall. Rain that fell on the eve of a Festival has two thousand cubits in each direction, meaning that one is permitted to carry the rainwater within a radius of two thousand cubits. But if the rain fell on the Festival itself, it is like the feet of all people, as it did not acquire residence, and consequently one is permitted to carry this water wherever he is permitted to walk.
The problem raised by several rishonim is that, in the case of rainfall on Yom Tov, it is likely that the rain, which originated in another place entirely, should be limited to its immediate surroundings, since it left its original tehum. Some respond by arguing that the rules about leaving one’s established boundaries and becoming limited to four cubits of space only make sense when discussing a person who has the ability to make conscious decisions and choose his area of residence for Shabbat. Such a person, who established a place for himself and left it, or did not establish it at all, can be limited by his decision. Rain – an unintelligent object – cannot make decisions or choose where its Shabbat will take place. It is, therefore, bound only by the limits of the person who discovers it and wants to make use of it. Another explanation is that, while in the clouds, rain is in constant motion, and it is impossible to discuss “establishing a Shabbat place” with regard to something that is moving. Therefore when it reaches the earth we cannot try to impose independent tehum limitations on it.
Eiruvin 44a-b: Using Humans as Walls on Shabbat
22/09/2020 - 4th 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.
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The Gemara (43b) tells a story about Rav Hanilai’s son, Nehemya, who was so engrossed in his learning that he did not pay attention to where he was going and wandered beyond the 2,000- ama tehum on Shabbat. Upon noticing Nehemya’s predicament, Rav Hisda turned to Rav Nahman to ask what could be done to allow Nehemya to return to the city precincts. Rav Nahman suggested gathering a group of people who would make two rows of a “living chain” to where Nehemya was stranded – either (according to Rabbenu Yehonatan) non-Jews or (according to Rashi) people who had made an eiruv that allowed them to go beyond the tehum – allowing him to return, surrounded by these “walls.” The suggestion that human beings can be used as walls for Shabbat purposes is questioned by Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak, who quoted a baraita to Rava which teaches that if one of the walls of a Sukka falls down, one is not permitted to have someone stand in its place and act as a wall, since erecting even a temporary wall on Shabbat or Yom Tov is forbidden. Rava counters this question with another baraita, one which teaches specifically that a person can ask his friend to stand in place of one of the Sukka walls in order to allow him to eat, drink or sleep in the Sukka! The Gemara distinguishes between these two baraitot, saying that creating a wall out of people is only permitted if the participants are unaware of what is taking place (she’lo mi-da’at). If, however, they recognize the role that they are playing (mi-da’at), then the wall is not effective. The Gemara is then forced to acknowledge that the case of Nehemya who wandered out of the tehum must have been where the people were not aware of what was going on, and that Rav Hisda, who orchestrated the “human chain” wall did not, himself, participate in it. But why distinguish between cases where the participants in the wall are aware or unaware of what is being accomplished? The impression given by Rashi and the Rashba. is that if someone knows what his role is in creating the wall, it is as if the wall is no longer a temporary one; rather, it takes on a certain element of permanence, which would be forbidden on Shabbat or Yom Tov. The Meiri argues that the problem is one of perception. If people recognize that a trick is being played in order to avoid a Shabbat problem, it will appear to them as desecration of the Shabbat, leading to a lessening of the honor of Shabbat.
Eiruvin 43a-b: Measuring Distances at Sea
21/09/2020 - 3rd 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.
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The Mishna (41b) tells of Rabban Gamliel and his comrades whose boat entered the port on Friday evening after it had already become night. Rabban Gamliel was asked whether they were allowed to disembark from the boat, or, perhaps they were restricted by the rules of tehum (=limits of) Shabbat to remain on the boat until Shabbat was over, since they were not within the boundaries of the city when Shabbat began. Rabban Gamliel responded that ordinarily one could not leave the ship, but that in this case he checked and saw that they had entered the 2,000-ama boundary of the city prior to the onset of Shabbat.
In order to clarify this issue, the Gemara cites that which was taught in a baraita: Rabban Gamliel had a special tube through which he would look and see a distance of two thousand cubits on land, and also determine a corresponding distance of two thousand cubits at sea.
Maimonides and the Geonim identify this tube ("shfoferet") as an engineering instrument similar to a protractor, which was also used for measuring in astronomy. This sextant – called, in the days of the Mishna, an astrolabe – allowed accurate measurements to be taken by examining the angle between two things, or between the instrument itself and a fixed spot. Even today, similar instruments based on these principles are used for purposes of surveying and mapping. The Jerusalem Talmud asks why Rabban Gamliel was at all concerned with disembarking from the boat, since his opinion, as recorded in the Mishna in the case of someone who was transferred to a different city and put in jail, permits free access to one who enters a new tehum area on Shabbat? They answer that this must have been a situation where the port was not surrounded by walls, where even Rabban Gamliel would have restricted the travelers to four cubits. The Ritva and Rashba explain that our Gemara is not concerned with this question. Apparently we are to understand that while Rabban Gamliel was not concerned about getting off the boat himself, he recognized that his fellow travelers – Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva – would not disembark due to their position on this matter. Keeping track of the distance to land was something that Rabban Gamliel did to accommodate those whose opinion on this halakha differed from his own.
Eiruvin 42a-b: Walking Four Cubits on a Boat
20/09/2020 - 2nd 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.
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One of the cases presented by the Mishna (41b) describes a person who was forcibly moved from his established place on Shabbat to another city, and placed in a prison or other enclosed area. Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya rule that he can walk freely, since the whole area is considered as if it was four cubits, since it is enclosed; Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehoshua rule that he is only allowed the immediate four amot that surround him.
To illustrate this disagreement, the Mishna tells a story. There was an incident where all of these Sages were coming from Pelandarsin, an overseas location, and their boat set sail on the sea on Shabbat, taking them beyond their Shabbat limit. Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya walked about the entire boat, as they hold that the entire boat is considered like four cubits, while Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva did not move beyond four cubits, as they sought to be stringent with themselves.
Pelandarsin is apparently a reference is to the Italian city of Brudisium, which is the modern-day city of Brindisi,an important harbor in Calabria, Italy. As far as the halakha is concerned, the Gemara brings a disagreement between the amoraim as to whether we rule like Rabban Gamliel or Rabbi Akiva in the case where the person has been taken to another city. With regard to the boat, however, everyone agrees that we accept Rabban Gamliel's ruling that the person can walk around the entire area. The Jerusalem Talmud notes that this is apparent from the Mishna itself, which records that Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva remained within their four cubits "because they wanted to be stringent on themselves" but even they appear to agree that in the case of the boat, according to the letter of the law one is allowed full access. Two reasons are brought by the Gemara to explain what is unique about the case of boat travel. According to Rabba, in the case of the boat the travelers are already within the closed walls of the boat before Shabbat begins. Rabbi Zeira explains that it is impossible to expect someone traveling on a boat to remain within four cubits, after all, the boat itself travels more than four cubits with each movement. The Ritva explains that Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were not willing to accept this idea for themselves, since from their perspective although the boat was moving, they had established themselves in one spot on the boat, which became their "Shabbat place" once the boat took them out of the tehum (=limits).
Eiruvin 41a-b: The Greatness of Human Dignity
19/09/2020 - 1st 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
While the third chapter of Massekhet Eiruvindealt with the person who has an established place to spend Shabbat, but desires to change or extend the boundaries of that place, the fourth chapter introduces us to the individual who does not have a place for Shabbat. For example, such a person may be "on the road" when Shabbat begins, or, perhaps leaves his city and travels more than 2,000 amot beyond its boundaries. The first Mishna (41b) teaches that someone who leaves the precincts of the city – even if he is forced to do so by non-Jews or a ru'ah ra'ah - an "evil wind" (the term can variously refer to temporary insanity or to an actual wind that creates a storm that drives the individual beyond the tehum (=limits). Maimonides, in his commentary on the Mishna, argues that any event beyond one's control can be referred to as a ru'ah ra'ah) – loses his ability to travel and is limited to the four cubit area in which he is standing.
Recognizing the difficulties involved in restricting someone in that fashion, the Gemara records the question that was presented to Rabba. They raised a dilemma before Rabba: If a person who is restricted to an area of four cubits needed to relieve himself and no secluded spot is available, what is the halakha? He said to them: The Sages established a principle that great is human dignity, which even supersedes a negative precept of the Torah, and therefore a person is permitted to overstep the Shabbat limit fixed by the Sages in order to relieve himself modestly.
The Sages of Neharde’a add that once he has returned to the city in a permissible manner, he now can walk freely within the city. The source for Rabba's ruling is the Gemara's understanding of the passage regarding returning lost objects (Devarim 22:1) that is interpreted to mean that if returning the object will involve embarrassment to the finder, he is allowed to ignore the lost object and pass up the opportunity to return it (see Bava Metzia 30a). The conclusion there is that generally speaking K'vod HaBeriyot can "push aside" all Rabbinic laws, of which eiruvei tehumim is an example. The rishonim debate whether the concept of K'vod HaBeriyot is defined by the person's own, personal dignity, and it would be impossible to remain in the same four cubits after having relieved himself there (the position taken by Rabbenu Hananel and Rabbennu Yehonatan) or if the concept is defined by one's relationship with others. According to the Rosh, who bases his position on Rav Hai Gaon, K'vod HaBeriyot applies only if there are other people in the vicinity whose presence embarrasses him or who will be offended were the individual to relieve himself in front of them.
Eiruvin 40a-b: Reciting Sheheheyanu on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur
18/09/2020 - 29th of Elul, 5780
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 the issue of eiruvin, the establishment of two days of Rosh HaShana due to the uncertainty of whether witnesses will arrive who will testify about the new moon also created problems with the prayers. Rabbi Dosa ben Harekinas was concerned about saying a prayer that referred to a day as Rosh HaShana, when perhaps Rosh HaShana was truly on the next day or the previous day. Because of these concerns, he rules (Mishna 39a) that the prayer on the first day of Rosh HaShana should clearly state that it is "today or tomorrow" and on the second day "today or yesterday". The hakhamim, who believe that the two days have kedusha ahat – "one holiness," rule that it is unnecessary (and improper) to add those clauses. This discussion leads the Gemara to a broad discussion about the prayers on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, days that are unique on the Jewish calendar, but are not one of the Shalosh Regalim – the three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. For example, on the Shalosh Regalim the sheheheyanu blessing (referred to by the Gemara as Zman, or time) is recited. Should it be recited on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur – which are one-time-a-year events as well? Or, perhaps, that blessing is restricted to the Shalosh Regalim? One of the concerns of the Gemara is that this blessing is, ordinarily, said with a cup of wine, which cannot be done on Yom Kippur. The Gemara rejects the possibility that the blessing can be said together with a cup of wine (that would also receive a beraha of its own), which would then be given to a child, because the child may learn that he is allowed to eat and drink on Yom Kippur. This concern stems from the fact that the child under consideration must be old enough to understand what is going on, otherwise making a blessing on his behalf would be without purpose and having him drink the wine would not solve the problem of making sure that the blessing was said purposefully. The obvious problem with this line of reasoning is that if we are concerned that a child will learn to eat and drink on Yom Kippur because he is given Kiddush wine, shouldn't we forbid him to eat anything, since perhaps he will learn that he does not need to fast? The answer given by the Rashba and the Meiri is that we are not concerned with normal meals, as the child will understand that as an adult he will have to conform to the restrictions of the day like all other adults. The only concern is that Kiddush wine drunk on behalf of others may be perceived by the child as something special that he can continue doing as an adult.
The Gemara concludes: The halakha is that one recites the blessing for time on Rosh HaShana and on Yom Kippur, and the halakha is that one may recite the blessing for time even in the market, as it does not require a cup of wine.
Eiruvin 39a-b: Setting an Eiruv for Rosh HaShana
17/09/2020 - 28th of Elul, 5780
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
Months on the Jewish calendar are based on the lunar cycle, and are therefore made up of either 29 or 30 days. While today the calendar is set based on rules and calculations from the time of the amoraim, during Temple times the beginning of the month was dependant on witnesses who would testify that they saw the new moon. The tradition that has Diaspora Jews keeping an extra day of Yom Tov stems from the inability of the messengers in those days to bring this information in time for the beginning of the holiday. Rosh HaShana is an interesting holiday as far as Jewish law is concerned. While the Torah commands to keep the holiday - which includes the restrictions of a normal Yom Tov – on the first day of the month of Tishrei, already in the time of the Temple it was often celebrated for two days, since even in Jerusalem where the Sanhedrin sat, they could not be sure when the new moon would be seen. Were the witnesses to come first thing in the morning on the 30th day of Elul, that day would be established as the single day of Rosh HaShana. If they were to come late in the day – or not at all – then the next day would be announced as Rosh HaShana, as well. The Mishna (39a) relates to this situation as it affects the rules of eiruvin. Can a person who is concerned that Rosh HaShana will be two days, arrange an eiruv tehumin in one direction for the first day and in another direction for the second day? Rabbi Yehuda rules that each day of Rosh HaShana would be considered a separate holiday, so separate eiruvin could be made. The hakhamim (identified in the Gemara as Rabbi Yose) argue that the two days must be considered kedusha ahat – as sharing "one holiness" - and the eiruv can only be made in one direction for both days. Rabbi Yose argues that the case where the witnesses came late in the day, after we have already determined that the first day will not really be Rosh HaShana, and yet both days are declared Rosh HaShana, proves that the two days share, in effect a single kedusha. Those who argue with him say that the two days do not have equal holiness, as only one of the days is really Yom Tov. We treat both of them as having kedusha so that people will not come to treat the day lightly – d'lo le-zilzulei bei. The traditional explanation is that in the case when the witnesses arrive in court late in the day, their testimony is not accepted and the "true" day of Rosh HaShana is established as the second day. We are concerned that in future years people will not take the first day seriously, so we announce both days as Rosh HaShana. The Ra'avad understands this Gemara in the opposite way. According to him, since there were witnesses who saw the new moon on the first day and arrived in the court to testify, really the first day is the "true" Rosh HaShana. The Sages added a second day to accommodate the witnesses whose testimony is accepted on that day.
Eiruvin 38a-b: Setting an Eiruv for Consecutive Holy Days
16/09/2020 - 27th of Elul, 5780
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
It is clear that a person cannot set up two eiruvin that will allow him to travel outside the precincts of the city in one direction in the morning and in the opposite direction in the afternoon. The Mishna (38a) presents a case where Yom Tov immediately precedes Shabbat. In such a case, can an eiruv be set up to allow travel in one direction for Yom Tov and in the other direction for Shabbat? Rabbi Eliezer rules that such arrangements can be made, as Shabbat and Yom Tov are separate entities. The hakhamim, however, believe that they should be considered as having kedusha ahat – that they share the same element of holiness – and whatever is established at the beginning of the holiday remains in force until after Shabbat. In this case, Rav rules that the halakha follows the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, as four sages are known to accept that position. Our Gemara lists the names of the four sages – Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, Rabbi Yishmael the son of Rabbi Yohanan ben Beroka, Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon and either Rabbi Yosei bar Yehudah or Rabbi Elazar – but does not quote their ruling. The Jerusalem Talmud quotes their ruling as referring to someone who placed an eiruv at the beginning of Yom Tov, which was eaten or destroyed before the onset of Shabbat. According to these sages, the eiruv cannot be relied upon for Shabbat, since the separate kedusha of Shabbat demands a separate eiruv.
This ruling of Rav is followed in the Gemara by a question presented by Rav Hisda. Did Rav actually say: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of the four Elders and in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, who said that when Shabbat and a Festival fall out on consecutive days, they constitute two distinct sanctities? Wasn’t it stated that with regard to a case where Shabbat and a Festival occur on consecutive days, Rav said: An egg that was laid on one is prohibited on the other, just as an egg that was laid on a Festival day is prohibited on that same day? This statement indicates that the two days constitute a single sanctity. How, then, can he say here that the halakha is in accordance with the opinion that they are two distinct sanctities?
Rabba answers that this ruling is based on a different halakha, that all preparations for Shabbat need to be done on a non-holiday, so that an egg born on Yom Tov cannot be used on Shabbat even if they are separate kedushot, since that would be preparing for Shabbat on Yom Tov. Rav Hisda's question is introduced with a curious statement – "When Rav Huna passed away, Rav Hisda entered the beit midrash and pointed out a contradiction within Rav's rulings." Rav Tzvi Hirsch Chajes explains that due to a misunderstanding, the relationship between Rav Huna and Rav Hisda was tense, and they did not interact for many years. Therefore Rav Hisda did not enter the Bet Midrash to raise a question on Rav Huna's mentor, Rav, until after Rav Huna had passed on.
Eiruvin 37a-b: Retroactive Designation in Action
15/09/2020 - 26th of Elul, 5780
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 opportunity to extend one's ability to walk beyond the 2,000-ama limit in either direction that is described in the Mishna (36b) is based on the concept of beraira (literally “choice,” and here referring to retroactive designation). The idea of beraira is that when information becomes available, it can retroactively help decide what choice was made earlier. In the Mishna's case, once we know which direction the non-Jews or scholar was coming from, we can retroactively decide that the eiruv should apply according to that - as yet unknown - reality. The Gemara quotes a number of tanna'im who argue about the principle of beraira. Rabbi Yose, for example, is quoted as rejecting the principle with regard to tithes, but he seems to accept it in the case of sacrifices. The case of tithes, as presented by the Gemara, is when wine is purchased that has not been tithed. When the purchaser says "I will set aside the appropriate amount of wine tomorrow for teruma, ma'aser and ma'aser sheni" can he drink the wine immediately, based on what will be done tomorrow? Rabbi Yose is among the tanna'im who forbid such tithing. The case of sacrifices involves two women who each bring a pair of doves to the kohen, without specifying whose sacrifices were whose or which one was for the Ola (burnt offering) and which one was for the Hatat (sin offering). The kohen decides which sacrifice is which, and Rabbi Yose rules that the sacrifices are valid for each of the women. The Gemara quotes Rabba as explaining that in the latter case a clear statement was made giving the kohen the ability to decide which sacrifice was which. Pigeons or doves are the common sacrifices brought by women who have given birth. Part of the process that completes their becoming tahor (ritually pure) and being permitted to partake in kodashim (holy things) or enter the precincts of the Temple is bringing these two sacrifices – an Ola and a Hatat (see Vayikra 12:1-8). There is an entire tractate – Massekhet Kinim – devoted to the issues that can come up when the doves are misplaced or confused with one-another. Rabba's explanation – that a condition was made giving the kohen the ability to decide which dove would be used for which sacrifice – is understood by the Meiri to mean that in general there is an assumed condition that the decision will be left to the kohen by the people bringing this sacrifice.
Eiruvin 36a-b: Setting up a conditional eiruv
14/09/2020 - 25th of Elul, 5780
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 Mishna teaches that a person is allowed to set up his eiruv tehumin conditionally, so that depending on the way events unfold in the course of Shabbat, he can choose to take his additional 2,000 amot either to the east or to the west. The examples that appear in the Mishna are: If non-Jews approach the city from the east, I can run away from them to the west (and vice versa) If a scholar approaches the city from the east, I can go towards him in that direction; if he approaches from the west, I can go to greet him in that direction. The Gemara records that Rabbi Yitzhak came from Israel with the opposite tradition: If non-Jews approach the city from the east, I can go towards them in that direction; if they approach from the west, I can go to greet them in that direction. If a scholar approaches the city from the east, I can run away from him to the west (and vice versa) To explain the discrepancy, the Gemara argues that the two traditions must be referring to different cases.
This case in the mishna is referring to a tax collector [parhagabena], from whom one wishes to flee; whereas that case in the baraita is referring to the lord of the town, with whom he wishes to speak…This case in the mishna is referring to a scholar who sits and delivers public Torah lectures, and one wishes to come and learn Torah from him; whereas that case in the baraita is referring to one who teaches children how to recite the Shema, i.e., one who teaches young children how to pray, of whom he has no need.
While our Mishna can be understood intuitively, Rabbi Yitzhak’s tradition still demands some explanation. According to Rabbi Yaakov Emden, welcoming the non-Jewish leader will permit setting up an not only because of the potential mitzva involved with presenting the Jewish community’s position to him, but also because welcoming a king – even a non-Jewish king – is itself a mitzva. With regard to the teacher of children who is visiting the town, Rabbi Emden explains that we must be talking about a situation where the individual knows that the teacher expects to be hosted in his home, and he does not have the provisions and wherewithal to honor him appropriately during his visit. In order to avoid this embarrassment, the individual is permitted to travel away from the city on Shabbat.
Eiruvin 35a-b: When in Doubt
13/09/2020 - 24th of Elul, 5780
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 Mishna teaches that an eiruv tehumin must be extant and edible at the moment that Shabbat begins. If the food gets burned up, or if it is teruma and, before Shabbat begins, it becomes tameh and thus can no longer be eaten, the eiruv is not valid. If the food is destroyed or becomes inedible after Shabbat begins, the eiruv is valid.
If the matter is in doubt, i.e. if he does not know when one of the aforementioned incidents occurred, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda say: This person is in the position of both a donkey driver, who must prod the animal from behind, and a camel driver, who must lead the animal from the front, i.e. he is a person who is pulled in two opposite directions. Due to the uncertainty concerning his Shabbat border, he must act stringently, as though his resting place were both in his town and at the location where he placed the eiruv. He must restrict his Shabbat movement to those areas that are within two thousand cubits of both locations. Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Shimon disagree and say: An eiruv whose validity is in doubt is nevertheless valid. Rav Yosei said: The Sage Avtolemos testified in the name of five Elders that an eiruv whose validity is in doubt is valid.
What if we know that the food burned up or became tameh sometime late in the day on Friday, but we do not know whether that occurred before or after Shabbat began? Regarding this situation, the Mishna presents a disagreement. Rabbi Yose rules that a questionable eiruv is valid, and he quotes Avtolemos who supports him in this halakha. Rabbi Meir rules that in this case the individual who sets down the eiruv becomes a Hamar-Gamal – “a donkey-camel driver,” which means that, because of the questionable eiruv, he is limited in both directions. He cannot travel 2,000 amot in the direction that he intended, and he has also lost his ability to travel 2,000 amot outside the city in the other direction. The expression Hamar-Gamal, which appears a number of times in Massekhet Eiruvin, stems from the different behavior of these two animals and subsequently, the way they are treated by their masters. A donkey is driven from behind and plods along under his burden; a camel, on the other hand, is pulled from the front. Thus someone who is a Hamar-Gamal needs to be in two different places at the same time, and, in effect, cannot move at all. The Aruk describes the term as someone who needs to pull the reluctant donkey and drive the unwilling camel, and therefore will end up rooted to his spot. Regarding Avtolemos, the sage quoted by Rabbi Yossi, we encounter something of a mystery. He clearly was one of Rabbi Yossi’s teachers, as Rabbi Yossi quotes him not only in our Mishna, but with regard to other areas of halakha, as well. Some identify him with Avtolemos ben Reuven, who was granted special permission by the Sages to dress in the fashion of non-Jews in order to work on behalf of the Jewish community, explaining the unique situation as stemming from his close relationship with the ruling authorities (see Sotah 49b). It is possible that Avtolemos is the son of Reuven ha-Itzrabuli, who played a similar role under the Roman government (see Me'ilah 17a).
Eiruvin 34a-b: Using Plants on Shabbat
12/09/2020 - 23th of Elul, 5780
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 Mishna teaches that the food for an eiruv tehumin can be placed on top of a pole or post that has been uprooted and placed in the ground, implying that it cannot be placed on a tree that is growing and rooted in the ground. The Gemara explains that this ruling follows the opinion of the Rabbis who believe that a shevut – a rabbinic decree – also applies during the bein ha-shemashot (twilight) period just before Shabbat definitely begins, which is when the eiruv takes effect.
This ruling leads the Gemara to discuss a number of cases where plants may be used on Shabbat. The Gemara relates that a certain army [pulmosa] once came to Neharde’a and took quarters in the study hall, so that there was not enough room for the students. Rav Nahman said to the students: Go out and create seats by compressing reeds in the marshes, and tomorrow, on Shabbat, we will go and sit on them and study there.
In this case, when the army was stationed in Neharde’a, and soldiers were billeted in the yeshiva facilities, leaving little room for the students, Rav Nahman suggested that they make chairs from the reeds near the lake so that study on Shabbat could take place there. Rami bar Hama brought our Mishna as a proof-text that use of the reeds should be forbidden while they are still rooted in the ground. Rav Nahman responded by distinguishing between reeds that had hardened and are considered trees – which have a rabbinic decree forbidding their use on Shabbat – and soft reeds that are considered vegetables, on which no such rabbinic decree was ever established. Rav Nahman proves that this distinction exists by quoting two baraitot, one that includes reeds in a list with trees, like the higi and the atad, while the other lists them with vegetables like kidah and urbani. The atad is the well-known boxthorn tree that accepts the challenge of leadership in Yotam’s parable (see Shoftim, ch. 9) after the position was turned down by the olive tree, the fig tree and the grapevine – all of the fruit-bearing trees of significance. The atad is identified as a Lycium plant belonging to the Solanaceae family. It reaches a height of about 10 feet and grows wild in the desert. Its sharp thorns make it a prime candidate for the threat of the leader that sinks his claws into his constituency, destroying them together with himself, as represented in Yotam’s parable regarding his half-brother, Avimelekh.
Eiruvin 33a-b: Making Shabbat in a Tree
11/09/2020 - 22th of Elul, 5780
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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In order to be allowed to walk more than 2000 cubits outside the city limits on Shabbat, an individual must arrange for an eiruv tehumin that will shift his central living space to the edge of the boundary, effectively moving his 2000-ama limit over to that spot. This is accomplished by placing food on the boundary and intending to “make Shabbat” in or near that spot. The Mishna (32b) teaches that if the individual does not plan to actually camp out in the spot of the eiruv where he placed the food, he needs to be able to theoretically access the food as Shabbat begins – which is when his “Shabbat residence” is established – and eat it there. Thus the Mishna rules that if the eiruv is placed in a tree above ten tefahim (=handbreadths), the eiruv is not valid, since above ten tefahim is considered a reshut ha-yahid – a private domain – which cannot be accessed from the ground. When it is placed below ten tefahim, then it is accessible from the ground and the eiruv is valid. In the Gemara (33a), Rav Yitzhak the son of Rav Mesharsheya explains the Mishna’s case to be where the branch of the tree in which the eiruv was placed grew out more than four amot from the trunk, and the individual planned to establish his “Shabbat residence” at the tree’s trunk. Furthermore, the branch begins below ten amot and grows to a height above ten amot. Since his intention was to establish his Shabbat residence on the ground near the tree trunk, if he placed the eiruv in the upper branches of the tree the eiruv would not be accessible to him at the onset of Shabbat and would, therefore, be invalid. To the Gemara’s suggestion that perhaps the eiruv can be accessed, were the individual to take it from its private domain position above ten amot and bring it directly via the tree to the place where he is making Shabbat, the Gemara responds that the tree under discussion is one that is used by the public to rest and rearrange loads that are being carried. Therefore this tree has an unusual status in that it is considered a reshut ha-rabim – a public domain – because of its popular use.
Eiruvin 32a-b: Trusting a Messenger in Religious Matters
10/09/2020 - 21th of Elul, 5780
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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In the course of discussing whether a messenger can be trusted to deliver and properly establish the eiruv, the Gemara records a difference of opinion on the matter. Rav Nahman believes that, when dealing with biblical commandments, we cannot automatically assume that a messenger does his job properly. Rav Sheshet disagrees and says that we do rely on the messenger, even regarding a biblical law. One of Rav Sheshet’s proofs is that a woman who needs to bring a sacrifice in the Temple after having given birth can put her money for the sacrifice into the “shofar” in the Temple, purify herself in a mikve (ritual bath) and by evening be certain that the Temple priests had done their job properly, bringing her sacrifice and allowing her to eat kodashim. Rav Nahman responds with the argument that it is a unique property of the Temple priests that they are considered reliable in this way. A woman who had given birth was considered mehusar kippurim – missing atonement – and not allowed to eat from kodashim – sacrifices in the Temple – until she had brought a special sacrifice. While there were a number of offerings that could satisfy this requirement, the popular sacrifice that was brought was a ken – a nest – consisting of a pair of pigeons or doves, one as a burnt offering (ola) and one as a sin-offering (hatat). Due to crowding, confusion and the possibility of errors, people coming to the Temple to bring sacrifices did not generally bring their own animals with them. Rather, they brought payment that was given to the treasurer of the Temple, and received a receipt with which they could go to another office and get the animal appropriate for the sacrifice that they were supposed to bring. For certain sacrifices, like those of women who had given birth, the money was deposited in the Temple collection box (there were thirteen of them) appropriate for that particular offering. Each of these collection boxes was called a “shofar” because they were shaped something like a ram’s horn, with a small opening for depositing the money and a larger body that held the money. This shape discouraged thieves from trying to extract money deposited there.
Eiruvin 31a-b: Relying on a Minor for Eiruv
09/09/2020 - 20th of Elul, 5780
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 teaches that the eiruv is not valid when it is entrusted to the hands of an irresponsible person, like a heresh (a deaf-mute person), a shoteh (an imbecile) or a katan (a minor). The Gemara is surprised that the eiruv of a minor is invalid, since Rav Huna – an amora who cannot argue with the Mishna – rules that a katan can collect the eiruv! The Gemara explains that the two rulings refer to different cases. Rav Huna, who permits the minor’s eiruv, is talking about eruvei hatzeirot, the eruv that permits carrying in an adjoining courtyard, which has been the focus of our massekhet up to this point. The Mishna that does not accept the katan’s eiruv is discussing eruvei tehumin, the eiruv that permits someone to travel beyond the 2000-ama boundary surrounding his community by establishing his place of residence for Shabbat at the edge of the boundary. The Gemara does not explain why the rules should differ between these two different types of eiruv, and many different suggestions are raised. According to Rashi, the eiruv that allows the householders to carry in a common courtyard is a formality, since the houses are joined in any case. Eiruvei tehumin, on the other hand, demands establishing a new living space for Shabbat, which the minor is unable to accomplish. Tosafot see the difference as being based in the source of the law. Eiruvei tehumin is based on a biblical passage, while eiruvei hatzeirot are solely of rabbinic origin. Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that, in the case of eiruvei tehumin, the person who establishes the eiruv must state explicitly, “So-and-so is establishing this place as his residence for Shabbat,” which a minor is not trusted to do. The eiruv hatzeirot, on the other hand, is a simple delivery, for which the katan can be relied upon. The explanation given by the Jerusalem Talmud is that the purpose of eiruvei hatzeirot in a place where houses are, in any case, closely connected to one another is simply to encourage a sense of community and brotherly love, so we are not overly concerned about who establishes the eiruv.
Eiruvin 30a-b: Using Forbidden Food For an Eiruv
08/09/2020 - 19th of Elul, 5780
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 (23b) at the beginning of the perek taught that food for the eiruv can be used even if one of the people involved in the eiruv cannot eat it. For example, wine can be used for a Nazir who cannot drink wine. Similarly, teruma, which is permitted only to the kohen, can be used for an eiruv that includes non-kohanim. In both of these cases, the food itself is permitted food, but the individuals involved are not allowed to eat it. The Gemara (30a) discusses whether food that someone has forbidden on himself by way of neder or shevua (if he swears not to eat the food) can be used for the eiruv. In the course of the Gemara’s discussion, two baraitot are quoted, each in the name of Rabbi Eliezer. According to the first baraita, if a person swears that he will not eat a specific loaf of bread, it still can be used for the eiruv; if, however he vows that a specific loaf is forbidden to him, then it cannot be used for the eiruv. According to the second baraita that is quoted, even saying that a specific loaf is forbidden will not prevent the loaf of bread from being used for the eiruv; the only case that will not work is if the person states that the loaf should be consecrated for the Temple. Unable to reconcile these two baraitot, the Gemara concludes that two students must have transmitted different versions of Rabbi Eliezer’s teachings. Throughout the Talmud the difference between neder and shevua, as is noted in our Gemara, is that a neder refers to the object – that the thing itself is now forbidden – while a shevua refers to the person – that the person is now no longer permitted to partake of the object. This distinction becomes significant in cases like ours, where a forbidden object cannot be used for the eiruv, but a food that is not permitted to a given individual can be used – even for the person who is not allowed to eat it.
Eiruvin 29a-b: Avoiding Dangerous Foods When Establishing an Eiruv
07/09/2020 - 18th of Elul, 5780
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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When discussing what types of food items can be used for the eiruv, the Gemara emphasizes that foods that are dangerous to eat should not be used.
Rav Hamnuna said: One may not establish an eiruv with raw beets, as Rav Hisda said: Raw beet kills a healthy person. The Gemara asks: Don’t we see people eating it and they do not die? The Gemara answers: There, it is referring to a beet that was only partially cooked, which is dangerous.
The Gemara follows this discussion with another quote from Rav Hisda that cooked beets are good for the heart, good for the eyes, and certainly good for the intestines. The beets commonly referred to in the Talmud are Beta vulgaris cicla, a garden vegetable. Its leaves can be cooked and eaten, and have a flavor similar to spinach. Another vegetable that may not be valid for the eiruv because of the potential danger involved in eating it is the onion. The Gemara relates that while the onion itself can be used for the eiruv, its leaves are potentially dangerous and cannot be used. A baraita is brought that teaches that onions should not be eaten because of "the snake that is in it." The baraita continues with a story that Rabbi Hanina ate half an onion with half of the "snake" that was in it, and became ill to the extent that he was close to death. His colleagues then prayed on his behalf and he recovered, since the generation needed his teaching and leadership. The "snake" that the Gemara understands to be the danger lurking in the onion is subject to much speculation. The Ritva suggests that it is a worm that is found in the leaves of the onion that is potentially lethal. According to most traditions, however, it refers to a sprouting onion, which looks very much like a snake. It is difficult to come to a clear conclusion regarding the Gemara's contention that eating onions generally, or their leaves specifically, presents a danger, since experience shows that onions are eaten with no ill effects. Nevertheless, onions contain the chemical n-propyl disulfide (C2H12S2). Ingestion of even relatively small amounts of raw onions can, theoretically, cause toxicity from this chemical, which denatures hemoglobin leading to the destruction of red blood cells. In our case, which discusses making up two full meals solely from onions, there is certainly the possibility of poisoning. People with specific sensitivity may even be in danger of death.
Eiruvin 28a-b: Establishing an Eiruv With Plants
06/09/2020 - 17th of Elul, 5780
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The requirement to have a meal jointly owned by the residents of the courtyard who need to create a group eiruv leads the Gemara to bring the opinions of sages who discuss what is considered food that will live up to this condition.
Rabbi Yehuda said in the name of R' Shmuel bar Sheilat, who said in the name of Rav: One may establish an eiruv with cheap and unimportant produce such as cress, purslane, and sweet clover, but one may not establish an eiruv with green grain or with unripe dates.
Ĥalaglogot appear to be Portulaca oleracea, or common purslane, an annual plant that grows close to the ground and spreads out on fields. It grows mainly during the summer months in Israel and nearby countries. It is gathered for food and can be eaten fresh or pickled – sometimes it is even grown specifically for that purpose. According to most of the early commentators, gudgedaniyyot can be identified as one of the melilotus, or sweet clover plants. These wild plants grow tall and have pods that contain one or two seeds. Generally speaking they are used to feed animals, but they are certainly fit for human consumption. In the past it was also used for medicinal purposes; the Gemara suggests that it was known as a prophylactic. Ĥaziz (green grain) is a general term for the green parts of various types of grain that are mainly used as animal fodder. Kafniyot are wild dates that do not ripen properly. Another plant that cannot be used for the eiruv is a kor. The kor (heart of palm) refers to the top of the stem of the palm. Although it is not fruit, as it is part of the tree itself, it is edible – the inner section of the trunk top is white and tasty and is considered something of a delicacy. In the time of the Talmud heart of palm was eaten both boiled and fried. Since removing the kor from the palm tree had the effect of preventing future growth and development of the tree, it was only cut off from a date palm that they decided to cut down.
Rav Ĥilkiya bar Toviya said: One may establish an eiruv with glasswort. The Gemara expresses astonishment: Does it enter your mind that one may establish an eiruv with glasswort? People do not eat glasswort. Rather, one may establish an eiruv with the herb from whose ashes glasswort is prepared, as it is fit for human consumption before it is burnt.
The kalya is identified as the Salicornia europaea or Common Glasswort which has pods but no leaves. It grows wild to a height of 10 – 14 centimeters in swampy areas. The ashes of this plant contain a high concentration of potassium, which was used to produce soap and clothing detergent. As an edible plant, it was, however, also used for food.
Eiruvin 27a-b: Leaving Out Water and Salt
05/09/2020 - 16th of Elul, 5780
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Up until this point, Massekhet Eiruvin has discussed the rules of the types of walls that are necessary to create a reshut ha-yahid – a private domain – that will allow carrying on Shabbat. The third chapter, Bakol Me'arvin, introduces another essential ingredient necessary for the eiruv to work – food. In order for families or groups of people to be considered united in a private domain, they need to be partners in enough food for two meals. The Mishna (26a) rules that any food can be used to create this eiruv, except for water and salt. The Jerusalem Talmud offers two reasons for the exclusion of water and salt. The first reason is the obvious one. Since these two items, while edible, do not offer any real sustenance, they cannot be considered food. The second reason is that both of these items hint to destructive punishments that appear in the Bible. Water destroyed the generation of the flood, and the city of Sodom was turned into salt. Aside from eiruv, salt and water are excluded from other halakhot, as well. For example, when a farmer finds that he has so much Ma'aser sheni (the second tithe - which is supposed to be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem) that he cannot transport it all, and perhaps he cannot eat it all during his visit to the holy city, he is allowed to redeem the produce and take the proceeds to Jerusalem, where he can purchase food items. Among the edible items that cannot be purchased are water and salt. This is based on the passage (Devarim 14:26) that seems to permit the farmer to purchase "all that [his] heart desires" with the money, but then enumerates cattle, and wine, closing, again with "whatever [his] soul requests." This passage is interpreted by ben Bag Bag in a baraita quoted by the Gemara, to allow even for the purchase of animals whose purchase price includes wool or a valuable hide, but only when the central purchase is a food item. Yohanan ben Bag Bag lived in the time of the Mishna, during the period of the destruction of the Second Temple. While he has few statements that appear in the Talmud, it is clear that he was respected by his peers as a scholar, to the extent that Rabbi Yehudah ben Betaira says about him that he was expert in the secrets of the Torah. Some say that he was from a family of converts, which explains the odd name – Bag Bag. Tosafot say that the numerical value of the letters of "bag" equal five, the value of the letter heh added to Avram's name when he become Avraham – the father of many nations. Others explain that “bag” is an abbreviation of ben gerim – the son of converts.
Eiruvin 26a-b: Teaching in the Name of Rabbi Elazar
04/09/2020 - 15th of Elul, 5780
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The Mishna (23a) brings Rabbi Elai as quoting his teacher, Rabbi Elazar as teaching a number of laws about eiruvin, and, as an aside, a rule about the Passover holiday. The rules about eiruvin were: that even an area the size of a Beit Kor - an area much larger than 500 square amot (a kor equals 30 se'ah, so a Beit Kor is equivalent to 75,000 square amot) - could be walled off and considered a private domain, and that if one member of the courtyard neglected to participate in the eiruv, his house was not considered part of the eiruv and nothing could be carried in or out of his house, but the eiruv is valid for the rest of the courtyard. The rule related to Pesah that was related by Rabbi Elai was that a wild plant called Arkablin can be used as Maror (bitter herbs). Rabbi Elai laments, however, that although he remembered learning these rules from Rabbi Elazar, he could not find anyone else who recalled those teachings, leading him to fear that perhaps his memory was faulty and that his teacher had not taught those halakhot. A number of different suggestions have been made about the identification of the Arkablin plant, or, according to a variant reading, the Akrabin (scorpion) plant. It is also possible that the Talmud, itself, refers to more than one plant when describing its attributes. One of the possible identifications is one of the Heliotropium plants, which have the shape of a scorpion's tail. These plants are wild grasses that grow in a number of places in Israel. Occasionally they are domesticated for their beauty and fragrance, as well as for medicinal purposes. Resh Lakish identifies the plant as Atzvata Haruziyata, which may be identified with a thorny, climbing plant, Euphorbia officinalis. Although the Gemara in Massekhet Pesahim (39a) relates that Rabbi Elai eventually found that Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov remembered the rule about Arkablin, none of the three of the laws quoted by Rabbi Elai in the name of Rabbi Elazar, are accepted as normative halakha.
Eiruvin 25a-b: When the Orchard Wall Comes Down
03/09/2020 - 14th of Elul, 5780
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The Gemara relates the case of a bustana – an orchard (the source of the word is in the Persian bostan which literally mean "the place of the wind," but was used even in the original to mean an orchard) – that bordered on the wall of an apadna (in ancient Persian an appadana meant "the king's palace." The term was borrowed by the Aramaic language, where it appears in the book of Daniel to mean a palace or a fancy dwelling). The orchard was thus considered a karpef she-mukaf ledira, since it shared one wall with the palace. In this case, the outer wall between the orchard and the palace collapsed. Rav Beivai suggested that carrying could still be permitted in the orchard, relying on the inner wall of the palace. Rav Pappi rejects that logic, arguing that although the original wall was built to service both the palace and the orchard, the remaining wall was built only for the palace, and not for the orchard. Therefore he rules that the orchard has lost its status as a karpef she-mukaf ledira and carrying in it will now be forbidden. In rejecting Rav Beivai's argument, Rav Pappi gently mocks him by saying "because you come from mula'ei people you speak mulayata matters.” Rashi interprets this expression as referring to Rav Beivai's family history. Rav Beivai was Abaye's son, and Abaye was from the family of Eli ha-Kohen (see Rosh ha-Shana 18a), whose family had a tradition of dying at a young age, because of the curse invoked against them (see I Samuel 3:10-14). The term is understood to mean "truncated" and in this case means "because you come from a family that is truncated (cut off) before they reach old age, you offer suggestions that are truncated" – i.e. have no support to them. The Rashbam accepts that the expression stems from Rav Beivai's family tree, but argues that Mula'ei is the name of the place that Eli ha-Kohen's sons lived. According to the Ge'onim this is simply an expression that was used when responding to an important person whose suggestion appears to be rash.
Eiruvin 24a-b: Carrying in a Courtyard With Neat Rows of Trees
02/09/2020 - 13th of Elul, 5780
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A baraita was quoted on daf 23b that taught that if an area larger than 500 square amot was a karpef she-mukaf ledira – it was walled off for living purposes, and therefore one is permitted carry in it – and then vegetables were planted in most of it, the area loses its status as a place where people live, and one can no longer carry there. If, however, trees were planted in it, it is still considered used for habitation and it retains its status of a karpef she-mukaf ledira, so people can continue carrying in it.
The Gemara (24a) brings a disagreement between Rav Nahman and Avimi about this case. Rav Yehuda said that Avimi said: This is only if the trees were planted in rows [itztablaot], the customary manner of planting ornamental trees in a courtyard. But if they were arranged differently it is considered an orchard, which is not made for dwelling, and where it is prohibited to carry. But Rav Nahman said: This applies even if they were not planted in rows, as people commonly plant trees in any arrangement in the courtyards of their houses. Rav Nahman believes that any trees that are planted would serve the purpose of showing that people still make regular use of the area. Rav Yehuda quotes Avimi as saying that planting trees will only allow the area to retain its status as a karpef she-mukaf ledira if the trees are planted in a formal way in rows – like itztabla'ot. The word itztabla'ot originates in Greek, and it means a stable for horses. In fact, the Talmud uses the word to mean that in a number of cases. In our Gemara the word is "borrowed" to mean something that is arranged in neat rows, like horses in their stable.
The Aruk explains that according to Avimi if the trees are not planted in neat rows, then it is more difficult for people to walk in the yard, and therefore the potential use of the yard for normal daily human activities is lessened, causing it to lose its status as a karpef she-mukaf ledira. Nevertheless, the halakha follows the opinion of Rav Nahman, both because of his stature as the leading sage of his generation, and because of the following story related by the Gemara: Mar Yehuda went to visit Rav Huna bar Yehuda and saw that there were people carrying in a karpef that was planted with trees in a haphazard manner. He inquired "aren't you concerned with the position taken by Avimi?" to which Rav Huna bar Yehuda responded "I follow the position of Rav Nahman." When the Gemara relates a story that supports a particular position, it is usually understood to indicate that that position is considered normative.
Eiruvin 23a-b: How Large Can a Space be and Still be Considered the Private Domain?
01/09/2020 - 12th of Elul, 5780
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The Mishna (23a) introduces us to a situation of a karpef she-eino mukaf ledirah – an enclosed area that is not used for living purposes - rather it is a garden or an enclosed courtyard used for storage that is not connected to a house. Although biblically such an area is a reshut ha-yahid – a private domain – the Rabbis of the Talmud ruled that it should be considered a karmelit, where it is forbidden to carry because of a Rabbinic decree. This is only if the area is larger than a beit se'atayim - the area of land on which two measures (se'ah) of grain can be grown. [Note: A beit se'ah, which can produce one se'ah of grain, is 50 amot by 50 amot. Thus, a beit se'atayim is 500 square amot.] If the area is smaller than this size, then it will be considered a reshut ha-yahid – a private domain – if a number of conditions are met: According to Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava it needs to have a guard shack or be near the city. According to Rabbi Yehuda it is enough to have a water cistern of some sort. According to Rabbi Akiva it does not need any of these things, as long as it is not larger than 70+ amot by 70+amot. The Gemara explains that the source for the rule of 500 square amot as the maximum for a non-living area is the size of the courtyard of the Mishkan, whose dimensions were 50 x 100 amot (see Shemot 27:18). The amora Rav Yehuda explains that Rabbi Akiva understood the repetition in that passage "the length of the courtyard – a hundred by the cubit, the width – fifty by fifty" as indicating that we are to take the 50 x 50 square and add around it the second 50 x 50 square, giving us a square of just over 70 x 70. The sides of the resulting square are just under 70 and 2/3 amot. A closer approximation is 70.71 amot (accurate to within one-tenth of a square ama), but even that is only an approximation, as the exact length is an irrational number that cannot be fully calculated. As presented by the Gemara, Rabbi Akiva believes that the approximation of 70 and 2/3 is accurate enough to be accepted by the Sages as the working length, and it is not necessary to attempt a more exact measurement for something that will, in any case, never be precise.
Eiruvin 22a-b: Can Natural Boundaries Define a Public Space?
31/08/2020 - 11th of Elul, 5780
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Rabbi Yitzhak bar Yosef quotes Rabbi Yohanan as saying that there is no true reshut ha-rabim in the land of Israel.
Abaye said to Rav Dimi: What is the reason underlying this ruling? If you say this law because Eretz Yisrael is surrounded by the Ladder of Tyre [Sulama d'Tzur] on one side and the slope of Gader [Mahtana d'Gader] on the other side, each formation being over ten handbreadths high and constituting a valid partition, then Babylonia, which is also surrounded by the Euphrates River on one side and the Tigris River on the other side, should not be considered a public domain either. Moreover, the entire world is also surrounded by the ocean, and therefore there should be no public domain anywhere in the world. Rather, perhaps you spoke of the scents and descents of Eretz Yisrael, which are not easy to traverse and hence should not have the status of a public domain?
Abaye asks: "Is Rabbi Yitzhak bar Yosef's statement because Israel has Sulama d'tzur on one side and Mahtana d'Gader on the other?" That there are natural boundaries on either side of Israel? If so, Babylonia, too has the river Perat on one side and the river Diglat on the other! The conclusion of the Gemara is that the hills and valleys in Israel create a situation whereby there cannot be a true reshut ha-rabim, which is defined as the area where the twelve tribes grouped in the desert as a people during the exodus. There the ground was flat and easy for even large groups to travel. The references to natural boundaries in Israel can be identified. Sulam d'Tzur is known today as Rosh HaNikra, where there are high cliffs that stand on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The cliffs act as a wall on the western side of the Land of Israel. Mahtana d'Gader refers to the steep drop from the Golan Heights down to the Kinneret along the Jordan River. The vast difference in height and steepness of the drop – the Dead Sea is the lowest spot in the entire world – create the sense of a huge stone wall on the eastern side of the land of Israel. In the Talmud Yerushalmi, Reish Lakish is quoted as saying that because of the natural boundaries that exist in the world, there really is no reshut ha-rabim anywhere today. Only after the coming of the Messiah, when "every low place will be brought up and every hill and mountain will be lowered" (Isaiah 40:4) will the rules of public domain apply on a biblical level. The question that needs to be asked is why, in fact, do we not rely on these types of natural boundaries for the purpose of eiruvin? On this issue, the reasoning of the Ritva seems compelling. He argues that when boundaries are so far apart that the individual has no sense at all that he is surrounded by them, they cannot really be considered valid for the purpose of eiruvin.
Eiruvin 21a-b: Laws of Eiruv in Israel and Babylonia
30/08/2020 - 10th of Elul, 5780
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Rav Yirmeya bar Abba teaches in the name of Rav that there are two rules with regard to eiruvin that are limited by their places. Burganin do not operate in Babylonia Pasei bira'ot (upright boards surrounding a well) do not operate outside of Israel. Burganin are huts used by watchmen on the roads. Some of them were well-constructed and were used as defensive positions for the military. The guards lived in these structures, guarded the fields and delivered reports and messages to the government. Other burganin were poorly made and were no more than shacks on the side of the road. The source for the word burganin may be Greek in origin, but it is likely from the German "Burg" meaning "fortress" or "small settlement." The term was carried on the lips of Roman soldiers who were stationed on the border with Germany throughout the Roman Empire – even to the language of the Talmudic Sages. The significance of these structures for Jewish law is that on Shabbat a person is limited in his ability to travel more than 2,000 amot outside of his city. When deciding where the edge of the city lies, however, if they are close enough (about 70 amot) to the city, buildings like these can be considered part of the city allowing one to walk significantly further away from the city limits on Shabbat.
The Gemara explains: The law with regard to huts does not apply in Babylonia because floods are common there; and since the huts are liable to be swept away by the floodwaters, they are not regarded as dwellings. The allowance with regard to upright boards surrounding a well does not apply outside of Eretz Yisrael, because yeshivot are not common there, and the allowance was only granted to those traveling for the sake of a mitzva such as Torah study. But we do say the opposite, i.e., we apply the law of huts outside of Eretz Yisrael and we apply the allowance of upright boards surrounding a well in Babylonia.
The pasei bira'ot are the deyomadin of the Mishna at the beginning of the perek. According to the Gemara, they apply in Babylonia but not in other countries, because other countries do not have Metivta – Torah study halls. It is clear from this ruling, as well as from other similar statements in the Gemara, that the Sages saw Babylonia as having a higher status than other countries in the Diaspora. This stemmed from the large Jewish population, including cities and towns that were almost entirely populated by Jews and a network of Yeshivot and study halls. As an example, according to this opinion, the leniency of pasei bira'ot offered to olei regalim (Festival pilgrims) in Israel were applied to students traveling to Yeshivot in Babylonia, as well. There is a second version of Rav Yirmeya bar Abba's teaching brought in the Gemara, which states that neither burganin nor pasei bira'ot work outside of Israel - not in Babylonia nor beyond.
Eiruvin 20a-b: Leniencies for Festival Pilgrims
29/08/2020 - 9th of Elul, 5780
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 mentioned above, the Mishna (17b) discusses the unique case of a water hole in the public thoroughfare that can be surrounded by four right-angled walls in each corner - referred to by the Mishna as Deyomadin -  in order to allow access to the water for travelers and their cattle. Rabbi Yitzhak bar Ada argues that this leniency - the ability to carry within that rectangular space - is not permitted for all, but is the exclusive benefit of the Olei Regalim – the Jews who are traveling to Jerusalem for Pesach, Shavuot or Sukkot - to fulfill the commandment of visiting the Temple on these holidays. The Jerusalem Talmud brings a dispute among the amoraim on this question. One opinion agrees with Rabbi Yitzhak bar Ada that these walls can only be used as an eiruv by olei regalim. A second opinion argues that the special leniency was approved by the Sages with the olei regalim in mind, but once it was adopted, the ruling works for all, and anyone can use the water in these wells. The third opinion argues that the ruling was made with the olei regalim in mind, but during the times of year when people are oleh regel, anyone – even those not coming to Jerusalem - can benefit from them. What is clear is that according to all, this method of fencing off the area of the well or water-hole with four deyomadin is related to the needs of olei regalim. In other words, the walls are so poorly designated that it was only the desire to assist people involved in this mitzva that led the Sages to permit their use. Since the olei regalim invariably brought with them animals for sacrifices in the Temple, there was a desperate need to make water as readily accessible as possible. During the times of year that the masses are commanded to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem, the only available water is in wells or cisterns that collected rain water.
Eiruvin 19a-b: More from Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar
28/08/2020 - 8th of Elul, 5780
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When a particular Sage is quoted by the Gemara, it is not unusual for the Gemara to bring other statements made by that Sage in halakha or in aggada. Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar, whose explanation of the word deyomadin opened the second chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin (see 18a-b), has a series of teachings brought by the Gemara in the realm of aggada, ranging from interpretations of the Creation story to Divine reward and punishment. Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar points to the contrast between criminals condemned by a flesh-and-blood king to those who are found guilty based on Divine law. The criminal who transgressed human law needs to be muzzled, lest he curse the king who is putting him to death. With regard to the individual who is found to be deserving of death based on Torah law, the passage in Tehillim 65:2 says Lekha dumiya tehila – “for You silence is praise.” That is understood by the Gemara to mean that the condemned man remains silent – and even praises God for the fairness of His judgment. One clear reason for the contrast between the convicted men is the recognition that there is no punishment that can be inflicted by flesh-and-blood kings beyond death. God’s justice, on the other hand, is eternal and exists even after death. The continuation of the passage in Tehillim is U’lekha yeshulam neder – “and to You shall the vow be performed.” Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar interprets this to mean that the death sentence is similar to bringing a sacrifice. The Maharsha explains this by pointing out that a korban – a sacrifice – is, on some level, a replacement for sacrificing oneself. In this case, the condemned man who accepts the judgment is truly sacrificing himself, so the act is similar to a korban. Another teaching presented in the name of Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar is that there are three entrances to Gehenna: one in the wilderness, one in the sea and one in Jerusalem. The Nahalat Yaakov (authored by Rav Yaakov Mi-Lisa ) explains this metaphorically, as different behaviors that lead to Gehenna. The “entrance to Gehenna” that is in the wilderness is makhloket – arguments – represented by the rebellion of Korah in the desert. The sea represents the reluctance to reprimand sinners, as with the story of Jona. Jerusalem represents the sin of haughtiness and a general deterioration of good qualities.
Eiruvin 18a-b: Duos in Public and in the Torah
27/08/2020 - 7th of Elul, 5780
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The second chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin opens with a discussion of the unique case of a water hole in the public thoroughfare that is surrounded by four right-angled walls in each corner – referred to by the Mishna as Deyomadin – in order to allow access to the water for travelers and their cattle. The Gemara then searches for the etymology of the word Deyomadin:
The Gemara asks: What are deyomadin? Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar said: Two [deyo] posts [amudin], which are put together to create a single corner piece. Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar suggests that it is from the Greek word "duo", and that the word is "duo-amudim" – double standing walls. This leads the Gemara to offer a list of expressions that are based on the concept of duo. For example, Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar suggests, based on the passage in Tehillim 139:5 – Ahor Va-kedem Tzartani (“you have formed me behind and before”) – that God’s original creation of man was deyo-partzuf – double faced. This fits in with one of the explanations of the creation of man (in Bereshit 2:23), on which there is a disagreement between Rav and Shmuel. One said: It means a female face, from which God created Eve; and one said: Adam was created with a tail [zanav], which God removed from him and from which He created Eve. The passage in Bereshit indicates that Eve was created from Adam’s tzelah. Although the word tzelah is usually translated as “rib,” the amoraim argue as to whether it means “face,” in agreement with Rabbi Yirmeya ben Elazar's explanation, or if it means zanav.
The Aruk explains that the word zanav in this context, as well as in many other places in the Talmud, means something that is extraneous and does not fit properly – something that looks unusual in appearance or size. According to the Rashba the zanav is something secondary, as the importance of the tail in comparison with the head. According to the opinion that Eve was created from the zanav, we need to understand the passage in Tehillim which seems to say that man was created “behind and before.” Rav Ami interprets the idea of “behind” in the passage as being at the end of the act of creation, and “before” means that he was first for punishment (the Flood). The Ritva explains that Rav Ami understands that the root of the word tzartani in the passage in Tehillim is not yatzar – “creation,” rather it is tzarah -“catastrophe.” Thus, the passage means “after creation, but before the disaster.”
Eiruvin 17a-b: Leniencies in a Military Camp
26/08/2020 - 6th of Elul, 5780
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The last Mishna in the first chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin discusses some of the leniencies that are applied in a military camp. Aside from being exempt from some of the laws of Eiruvin, soldiers are also permitted to collect wood without worrying that it might belong to someone and they are not obligated to wash their hands before eating bread. The Gemara wants to know what is new about permission to collect wood, as there was a long-standing tradition from the time of Joshua that soldiers could do so. The Gemara gives a number of answers, the first of which posits that Joshua only permitted the collection of Hizmei and Higei – thorn-bushes that no one really cares about. The Mishna permitted other wood to be collected, as well. The scientific name for Hizmei is Alhagi maurorum Medik. It is a thorny plant with smooth, non-serrated leaves. Ordinarily it grows to a height of 30 centimeters (1 foot), although it occasionally grows as high as one meter (3 feet). Higei can be identified with Ononis antiquorum L. of the Papolinaceae family. It, too, is a thorny plant that grows to about 75 centimeters (2.5 feet), which is found growing wild in fields and valleys. Regarding hand-washing before meals, Abaye points out that the leniency applies only to washing before eating, but regarding Mayim Aharonim – washing after eating – there is no room to be lenient, and all are obligated. Rav Hiyya bar Ashi explains that it is dangerous to refrain from washing after the meal, as the salt – Melah Sedomit – could blind you if there is any left on your fingers. It appears that the reference is to Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2), which can be found in large quantities in the Dead Sea. Both magnesium and chlorine can mix easily with the salt that is produced in Sodom near the Dead Sea. Since these are poisonous substances, someone who rubs his eyes with an unwashed finger could easily develop an infection.
Eiruvin 16a-b: Building a Wall of Ropes
25/08/2020 - 5th of Elul, 5780
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The Mishna (16b) introduces the concept of Lavud, an idea that can be useful not only in making an Eiruv, but in building a Sukka, as well (see Sukka 16b). Lavud means “solid” and it expresses the legal fiction which views separate parts as being united, if the gap between them is less than three tefahim. According to the Mishna, if three ropes are strung across – with three tefahim between the ground and the bottom one and three tefahim between each rope – and the ropes themselves add up to a width of a tefah, then we view the ropes as a ten-tefah high wall for the purpose of the Eiruv (or a Sukka). The same rule applies to posts that are placed at a distance of three tefahim or less from one-another. In the Mishna, there is a difference of opinion over where this rule applies.
When the Sages issued this ruling, they spoke exclusively of a caravan; this is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda, who maintains that a partition of this kind, which consists of only horizontal or vertical elements, is permitted exclusively in exigent circumstances. Otherwise, full-fledged partitions are required. However, the Rabbis say: They spoke of a caravan in the mishna only because they spoke in the present, citing the most typical case. Those traveling in caravans were typically unable to erect full-fledged partitions, so they would surround their camps with ropes or boards. However, the halakha in the mishna applies in all cases.
According to Rabbi Yehuda, this type of wall will work only for a Shayara, a caravan of travelers – which was the case discussed in the previous Mishna (15b) – but not for an individual. The Hakhamim believe that the wall is valid under all circumstances, and that the Mishna mentioned the case of the Shayara “because they spoke in the present [tense],” i.e. that they related it to the most common case, but it is not meant to exclude other cases. While it is common for us to find an argument among the amoraim in the Gemara about whether a case in the Mishna is meant to be limited to a specific situation, it is less common to find such a discussion among the tannaim, who were closer to the source of the ruling. Nevertheless, in our case both Rabbi Yehuda and the Hakhamim had the tradition from an early Mishna that the law was taught in the context of travelers – a Shayara. Their disagreement is whether the Mishna meant that case specifically, or merely presented it as a practical example from which no conclusion should be reached.
Eiruvin 15a-b: Using an Animal as a Bill of Divorce
24/08/2020 - 4th of Elul, 5780
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The Mishna that begins at the bottom of daf 15a teaches:
One may construct side posts from anything, even a living creature, provided that it was properly attached to the entrance of the alleyway, and Rabbi Meir prohibits using a living creature as a side post. The Mishna continues with a similar dispute: Even a living creature imparts ritual impurity if it is used as the covering of a grave. But Rabbi Meir deems it pure. Likewise, one may write women’s bills of divorce on anything, even a living creature. But Rabbi Yosei HaGelili invalidates a bill of divorce written on a living creature.
The Mishna states that a Lehi (side post) can be made of anything – even a live animal. As an aside, the Mishna continues by discussing the status of an animal that is used as a grave marker, or when a man chooses to divorce his wife by writing the get on a live animal, which works according to the Hakhamim, but does not according to Rabbi Yosei HaGelili. The Gemara explains that the disagreement between the Hakhamim and Rabbi Yosei HaGelili stems from different ways of understanding the passage in the Torah (Devarim 24:1) that teaches the laws of divorce. According to the Torah, a man who wants to divorce his wife must write a Sefer Keritut (a book of separation) in order to send her out of his house. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili understands that the divorce document must have some of the qualities of a book, including that it cannot be a live animal. The Hakhamim interpret the passage to mean that the divorce must offer total separation. This teaches that if conditions are set down that make the permanence of the divorce questionable, then we do not have a Sefer Keritut, and the divorce is invalid. This is only true if the conditions of the divorce are such that, even after separation, the wife is still obligated to her husband in some way. If, however, the condition is long-term (e.g. that the divorce is contingent on the woman never again stepping foot in her father’s house) but can be kept, according to many opinions the divorce is valid, but the woman must be careful to fulfill the condition, lest the divorce become invalid retroactively. According to the ruling of the Shulhan Aruk (Even Ha-Ezer 143:20-21) such a condition should not be made because of the potential danger, should the woman remarry and fail in fulfillment of the condition.
Eiruvin 14a-b: Dimensions of the Kiyor
23/08/2020 - 3rd of Elul, 5780
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The Mishna (13b) discusses different possibilities regarding the shape of the Kora (cross beam) that is used to symbolically close the open end of a Mavoy (alleyway). In discussing a round Kora, the Mishna teaches a mathematical rule that the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter is 3:1. The Gemara (14a) shows the source for this principle to be the passages in Sefer Melakhim I (7:23) which describe the various utensils in Solomon's Temple, including the Yam shel Shlomo – the reservoir of water in the Temple that was used by the priests to wash their hands and feet. This reservoir is described as being ten amot across, with a circumference of 30. According to the simple reading of the passages describing the Yam shel Shlomo, it was a huge half-globe about five meters in diameter. The globe sat on twelve legs, three on each side, that were shaped like cattle. (Keep in mind that, unlike most of the utensils in the Temple, which have very exact specifications, the Kiyor (=laver or washing station) is not described in the Torah. Therefore it was redesigned to accommodate the needs of the Temple priests at various times. During the Mishkan period it had only two faucets; during the Second Temple a donation from one of the Kohanim allowed it to be designed with 12.) Already in the medieval period there was recognition that the ratio of circumference to diameter in a circle was larger than 3:1, as is noted by the Tosafot on our page. The popular explanation is that the difference is so small that it was ignored by the Sages. Maimonides, in his commentary to the Mishna, argues that pi is an irrational (and perhaps even a transcendental) number which cannot be expressed using normal numerals. Since it is impossible to state pi in a definitive way, the Sages chose to use a simple estimate that closely matches the true relationship – 3:1.
Eiruvin 13a-b: The Fame of Rabbi Meir
22/08/2020 - 2nd of Elul, 5780
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A number of rulings of the tanna, Rabbi Meir, are quoted by the Gemara, which leads Rabbi Aha bar Hanina to report that it was well-known that Rabbi Meir's intellect towered over the rest of his generation.
Why then didn’t the Sages establish the halakha in accordance with his opinion? It is because his colleagues were unable to ascertain the profundity of his opinion.
He was so brilliant that he could present a cogent argument for any position, even if it was not consistent with the prevalent halakha…The Sages were unable to distinguish between the statements that were halakha and those that were not. Rabbi Meir lived in the generation prior to the codification of the Mishna. We know little about his family, but tradition has it that he was from a family of converts whose origins were with the family of the Roman Caesar. As a young man he was recognized as a prodigy, and he studied with the two leading sages of his generation, Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva. He was also the only student who continued to study with Elisha ben Avuyah after he left the path of tradition. It appears that his life’s work was an oral compilation of the laws that were to become the foundation of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi’s Mishna. This is the source for the oft-repeated maxim in the Gemara “Stam Mishna – Rabbi Meir” – that a statement which appears in the Mishna without attribution is certainly from the teachings of Rabbi Meir. His participation in an attempt to have Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel replaced as the head of the Sanhedrin led to his exclusion from the study hall for a time. His teachings were not quoted in his name; rather they were cited as Aherim Omrim – “others say.” His personal life was replete with tragedy. His two sons both died during his lifetime, and his wife, Beruria, also died under painful circumstances. He was forced into exile, where, prior to his death, he insisted not only that his body be returned to the Land of Israel for permanent burial, but also that he be buried temporarily near the sea whose waters reached to Israel. The fame that was Rabbi Meir’s during his lifetime stemmed not only from his impressive intellect, but also from his outstanding character, his pursuit of peace and his modesty. He was also known as something of a miracle worker, and for generations the charity boxes with his name, “Rabbi Meir ba'al ha-Nes” (“the miracle worker”), were a major source of material sustenance for the early settlers of the Land of Israel in modern times.
Eiruvin 12a-b: Defining an Alleyway and a Courtyard
21/08/2020 - 1st of Elul, 5780
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On this page, the Gemara offers some basic definitions of Mavoy (alleyway) and Hatzer (courtyard). Rav Nahman rules that the Mavoy discussed by the Mishna, where one can carry if a Lehi (side post) or Kora (cross beam) is placed properly (see 2a-b), is one whose length is greater than its width and has houses opening into it. If the area is square, however, then it is a Hatzer, for which a Lehi or Kora will not suffice. The Gemara then queries – how much longer does the length of the Mavoy need to be? Shmuel wants to suggest that it must be twice as long as its width, but Rav quotes “Havivi” as saying that it can be longer by even a small amount. Rav and Shmuel were first generation amoraim, immediately following the generation of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi, the redactor of the Mishna. Rav, in particular, was seen as bridging the period between the tannaim and amoraim in that the Talmud often responds to a question on him with the retort “Rav Tanna hu, u’palig” – Rav has the status of a tanna, and therefore has the ability to disagree with other opinions in the Mishna – a privilege not allowed to other amoraim (see Eiruvin 50b). Orphaned as a child in Babylonia, Abba Arikha traveled to Israel where he was raised by his celebrated uncle, Rabbi Hiyya, whose collection of baraitot was considered authoritative. The nickname “Rav” was given to him due to his preeminence in the Babylonian community, where he played the role of Rosh Yeshiva in Sura following the death of his teacher, Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nassi. When quoting “Havivi,” as he does in our Gemara, Rav is referring to his uncle, Rabbi Hiyya. The etymology of the term “Havivi” to mean “uncle” is interesting. The word “haviv” means “beloved,” similar to the term “dod” which has two meanings. “Dod” refers to the beloved one throughout Shir Ha-Shirim; more popularly it refers to the brother of one’s father or mother. Haviv developed a similar dual meaning, and here Rav uses it to refer to his uncle. The parallel between these words becomes clear when we find that the Targum Eretz Yisrael (the Aramaic translation of the Torah) translates the words “dod” and “doda” as “havivei” and “havivtei.”
Eiruvin 11a-b: The Basis For the Exception of the Amaltera
20/08/2020 - 30th of Av, 5780
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The first Mishna in Massekhet Eiruvin taught that a Mavoy (alleyway) whose walls are taller than 20 amot (cubits) or more than ten amot apart cannot be permitted by use of the ordinary heker (reminder) of a Lehi (side post) or a Kora (cross beam) (see 2a-b). At the same time, the Mishna taught that a tzurat ha-petah – a symbolic doorframe – will suffice to close the open end of a Mavoy even if it is wider than ten amot. We also learned a baraita (3a) which ruled that an Amaltera – a decoration above the entranceway – will allow a kora to work even above 20 amot. Now the Gemara asks whether these two methods can be switched. Will a symbolic doorframe permit carrying in the Mavoy even if it is higher than 20 amot? Will an Amaltera allow carrying in a Mavoy even if the opening is wider than ten amot? A close reading of the Mishna convinces the Gemara that each of these special conditions will only work in the specific case where it is suggested by the Mishna. Nevertheless, the Gemara's thought that we could, perhaps, apply them deserves some explanation. With regard to the Amaltera, Rabbi Yaakov Kahane, in his Gaon Yaakov, posits that the Gemara's suggestion is based on its quandary about the basis for the exception of the Amaltera in the case of walls higher than 20 . Two possibilities are: The fact that it looks unusual and draws attention. The fact that the importance of the decoration elevates the opening to be considered a door. According to the first explanation, while people will notice something out-of-the-ordinary that is higher than usual, if the opening is very wide, it will be less noticeable and will not accomplish its purpose. If, on the other hand, the issue is that the opening becomes significant as a door by dint of the important decoration, the Amaltera should succeed in accomplishing that. According to the Gemara's conclusion, it appears that the first explanation of the Amaltera appears to be the correct one.
Eiruvin 10a-b: When a Side Post Can Only be Seen From Outside
19/08/2020 - 29th of Av, 5780
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The Gemara introduces a case where the Lehi (side post) – the object that is placed at the entrance to a Mavoy (alleyway) as a reminder that carrying can only be done within the walls of the Mavoy and not in the public domain (see 5a-b) – appears to be an extension of the wall of the Mavoy, so that it is only apparent from the outside that it is a Lehi. The amora, Rabba bar Rav Huna, argues that it should be considered a valid Lehi, but, basing itself on a baraita that appears to contradict that position, the conclusion of the Gemara seems to be that such a Lehi is not valid. Rav Yosef, who was a student of Rav Huna, comments that he had never heard the position taken by Rabba bar Rav Huna that such a Lehi should be valid. It should be noted that during an illness, Rav Yosef had forgotten much of his learning (see Nedarim 41a), so his student, Abaye, reminded him that he had, in fact, quoted Rav Huna as ruling that if the inner wall of the Mavoy extended beyond the Mavoy less that four amot (cubits), then it is considered a valid Lehi. Furthermore, Rav Yosef himself had concluded from that statement that a Lehi is valid if it can be seen from the outside of the Mavoy, even if it cannot be seen from inside the Mavoy. Following this exchange, the Gemara concludes that such a Lehi is considered valid, contradicting the earlier supposition of the Gemara. To explain the change of ruling, the Gemara says that they prefer to rely on the baraita that was quoted earlier (9b) in the name of Rabbi Hiyya. The Jerusalem Talmud explains that the baraita upon which the first ruling was based could not be found recorded in the authoritative collections of baraitot, and therefore could not be relied upon. The baraitot quoted in the study halls of Rabbi Hiyya and Rabbi Oshiya, on the other hand, were known to be reliable.
Eiruvin 9a-b: Getting One’s Status From One’s Neighbors
18/08/2020 - 28th of Av, 5780
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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In this essay we will examine a number of expressions used by the Sages of the Gemara. Rabbi Zakkai quotes a baraita in the presence of Rabbi Yohanan which rules that the area at the entrance to the Mavoy (alleyway) - under the cross beam or between the side posts (see 5a-b) - would be considered a karmelit (i.e. a place in which carrying would be Rabbinically forbidden). Rabbi Yohanan reacts strongly to this baraita, saying “Pok T'nai L’vara” – go and teach that baraita outside! In other words, Rabbi Yohanan does not accept the baraita as it was presented to him; he believes that carrying would be permitted. This expression indicates that Rabbi Yohanan did not merely disagree with the ruling; he felt that it was incorrect to such an extent that it should not be taught and discussed in the Beit Midrash (study hall). On occasion, we find in the Gemara that an amora chooses to privately pursue an avenue of study outside the Beit Midrash that is not accepted as part of the discourse inside the Beit Midrash. On a practical level, that is what is being suggested here, aside from the clear statement that we do not consider this opinion when deciding the halakha.
The Gemara then brings a difference of opinion between Rava and Abaye. Abaye said: Rabbi Yohanan’s statement is reasonable with regard to the area beneath the cross beam, as only the area beneath the cross beam should be considered a private domain, but between the side posts, carrying is indeed prohibited, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Zakkai. And Rava said: The entire statement of Rabbi Zakkai is to be rejected, as Rabbi Yohanan asserted, and even in the area between the side posts carrying is permitted.
Abaye argues that only part of the baraita was rejected, and while under the cross beam (kora) one would be permitted to carry, it would be forbidden to carry between the side posts (lehi). Rava believes that the entire baraita was rejected and that, in both cases, Rabbi Yohanan permits carrying. In an attempt to explain his position, Abaye brings a number of statements which seem to indicate that the ruling with regard to “between the lehis” would forbid one to carry (i.e. they have the halakhic status of a karmelit). Rava responds to each case by explaining that the ruling was only true because the Mavoy opened into a karmelit, and the area abutting the karmelit gets the status from its neighbor. In a case where the Mavoy opens to a Reshut ha-Rabim (public domain), however, then the area between the lehis would retain the status of a Mavoy. In response to Rava's explanation, the Gemara responds “Yatziva be-Ar'a, v'Giyora bishmei shemaya!?” (literally – A permanent resident is down on the ground, while a stranger is raised up to the highest heavens?). The expression means that things seem to be the opposite of the way they are presented. In our case, it seems odd that we would be more stringent in the matter of a Rabbinic decree (the karmelit) than in the matter of a Biblical law (the Reshut ha-Rabim). Similarly, it seems unreasonable that the stranger (the Ger) should be considered to be on a higher level than the citizen. This expression is a translation (with a slight variation) of a passage from the tokhaha (the chapter of rebuke) that appears in Sefer Devarim (28:44). The passage reads “the stranger among you will rise above you higher and higher, and you will fall lower and lower.” The idea here is that we are shocked and surprised to find a situation that is the opposite of what we expect. Rava’s response is “Matza min et mino v’nei’or” – similar subjects find each other and are awakened. Since the Mavoy is a Rabbinic decree, when it comes into contact with a karmelit it can take on the characteristics of a karmelit. When it comes into contact with a Reshut ha-Rabim, however, it cannot take on the characteristics of a full public domain, so it remains a Mavoy in which it is permissible to carry.
Eiruvin 8a-b: An Alleyway Like a Centipede
17/08/2020 - 27th of Av, 5780
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 Gemara raises the question of how to deal with a long alleyway that opens to the public domain, but with a series of small alleyways branching off of it on both of its sides, all of which also open to the public domain. To describe such an alleyway, the Gemara refers to it as a “Mavoy He-Asui Ke-Nadal” (an alleyway that is shaped like a centipede). Before we study the Gemara’s discussion, let us spend a moment touching on the Nadal, the creature upon which it is based. The Nadal is identified as a Scolopendra, one of the multi-legged creatures of the Chilopoda family. All of these creatures have a long body made up of sections, and each section has a pair of legs on either side. The number of pairs differs from one centipede to another. The centipede Scolopendra possesses twenty-one pairs of legs and has a pair of poisonous claws near its head, used to deliver venom into its prey. While painful, their sting is not ordinarily dangerous to human beings. When the Torah (Vayikra 11:42) refers to “Marbei Ragla’im” (many legged creatures), it most likely is referring to these creatures. There is a difference of opinion among the Rishonim as to how the model Nadal defines the Gemara’s case. According to Rashi, it seems that all of the smaller exits to the public domain are on one side of the Mavoy. Tosafot bring the opinion of Rabbenu Tam, which states that they are on both sides of the Mavoy, but they do not match up. Most Rishonim, however, understand the case to be where the smaller openings are exactly opposite one-another.
The Gemara teaches: Abaye said: An opening in the form of a doorway is made for the large alleyway, and all the small alleyways are permitted by means of a side post or a cross beam. Rava said to him: According to whom do you state this halakha? Apparently according to the opinion of Shmuel, who said that the halakha of a crooked L-shaped alleyway is like that of an alleyway that is closed at one side. For in this case of an alleyway that is shaped like a centipede, when each of the smaller alleyways connects to the larger alleyway, it forms a crooked L-shaped alleyway. However, if the halakha is indeed in accordance with the opinion of Shmuel, why is the form of a doorway needed for it? According to Shmuel, an alleyway of this kind only requires a side post or a cross beam at each end in order to permit carrying within it. And furthermore, with regard to the crooked, L-shaped alleyway in Neharde’a, which was Shmuel’s place of residence, didn’t they take into consideration the position of Rav? This indicates that the halakha in practice follows Rav as opposed to Shmuel.
Abaye’s suggestion is that a full doorframe should be built to “close off” the main entrance of the Mavoy, and the smaller openings will suffice with the Lehi (side post) or Korah (cross beam) usually used to permit carrying in the Mavoy. Rava responds to Abayye by arguing that each of the smaller openings should be considered a Mavoy Akum (crooked alleyway), as each one goes from the public domain on one side to the large Mavoy, which itself leads to the public domain. If you follow Shmuel’s opinion that that Mavoy Akum is considered “closed,” then there should be no need for a doorframe; a Lehi or Kora should suffice. However, we learned above (6b) that in Shmuel’s hometown of Neharde’a, they followed Rav’s ruling that the Mavoy Akum is considered “open.” Rava concludes that we must follow Rav, and therefore all of the smaller openings on one side need to be “closed” with a doorframe, and the other openings can then be symbolically closed by use of the Lehi or Kora as in any standard Mavoy.
Eiruvin 7a-b: Deciding Arguments by Divine Voice
16/08/2020 - 26th of Av, 5780
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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After quoting the baraita which suggests that a person can choose to follow either the position of Beit Shammai or of Beit Hillel (6b), the Gemara is disturbed by the fact that the selfsame baraita opens by stating that in arguments between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, the opinion of Beit Hillel prevails. Several possible answers are suggested by the Gemara:
  • The section of the baraita that offers a choice in the matter was taught prior to the Bat Kol.
  • The baraita is presenting the position of Rabbi Yehoshua, who does not believe that one should pay attention to a Bat Kol
  • The baraita did not mean that one could choose to follow either Beit Shammai or Beit Hillel; rather it was using their argument as an archetype. When two Sages argue – like Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel – one cannot choose the leniencies or stringencies of both; one must choose to follow one or the other.
The “Bat Kol” (Divine Voice) mentioned here refers to a Gemara later on in Eiruvin (13b) that describes how Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai argued for three years, at which time a Bat Kol came out and declared that while both opinions are true, the halakha follows Beit Hillel (Elu v’Elu divrei Elokim hayyim, v’halakha K’Beit Hillel.) The Ritva and Rabbi Nissim Gaon explain this difficult statement by referring to a Midrash that appears in the Jerusalem Talmud. According to the Midrash, when the Torah was given to Moshe on Mount Sinai, he was also given 49 ways to declare something pure and 49 ways to declare it impure, indicating that within the Torah itself there are levels of meaning that allow for the possibility of contradictory conclusions, leaving it to the leaders of the generations to choose the appropriate ruling for their time. According to this explanation, each position has its place in the Torah as it was given, so “both opinions are true.” The second suggestion made by the Gemara – that the baraita is presenting the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua who does not believe that one should pay attention to a Bat Kol – is a reference to the story told in Massekhet Bava Metzia (59b), where all of the Sages disagreed with Rabbi Eliezer regarding the ritual purity of an oven that could be taken apart. Rabbi Eliezer brought a series of miraculous proofs to his position, culminating with a Bat Kol that declared the halakha to be like Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Yehoshua’s response was “Lo ba-Shamayim hee” (a reference to Devarim 30:12) – halakha is not decided by heaven, rather by human courts.
Eiruvin 6a-b: Carrying in a Crooked Alleyway
15/08/2020 - 25th of Av, 5780
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 Gemara discusses the case of a “Mavoy Akum” (= a crooked alleyway), which Rav considers “open” so that it cannot be treated like a normal Mavoy, and Shmuel considers “closed” so that the usual side post or cross beam can be used to permit carrying in it. There are several explanations of what the “Mavoy Akum” looks like. According to Rashi, the Mavoy has an “L” shape and both ends are open to public domains. The Meiri suggests several other possibilities: The Mavoy has a “C” shape so that both ends open to the same public domain. The Mavoy has a “T” shape and all three ends open to a public domain. The Mavoy has an “L” shape, but at an angle, so that both ends open to the same public domain. The Gemara then tells the story of a “Mavoy Akum” in the Babylonian city of Neharda’a, with regard to which the community accepted two stringencies and ruled that only an actual door would permit carrying. On the one hand, they accepted Rav’s position that the Mavoy was considered “open” and that the typical side post or cross beam would not suffice to permit carrying in it. On the other hand, they accepted Shmuel’s position that an “open Mavoy” needs real doors and cannot be permitted with a simple tzurat ha-petah (=doorframe). The Rif explains that the people of Neharda’a were forced to accept this position because the Halakha follows Rav in this case, but since Neharda’a was Shmuel’s hometown, they wanted to honor his position by following his opinion as well. Nevertheless, the Gemara objects that it is inappropriate to follow two contradictory stringent opinions. A baraita is quoted which says that a person can choose to follow either the position of Beit Shammai or of Beit Hillel, but if he chooses to follow the lenient positions of both, he is a wicked person. If he follows the stringent positions of each, based on the passage in Kohelet (2:14), he is considered a fool. When this story appears in a parallel Gemara (Tractate Rosh HaShana 14b), Tosafot explain that the passage in Kohelet refers not only to the person who does not know which position to follow and chooses the stringent position in all cases, but also the person who knows the correct ruling in each case but chooses to accept stringencies upon himself.
Eiruvin 5a-b: Closing Off an Alleyway
14/08/2020 - 24th of Av, 5780
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According to the Gemara, aside from the cross beam that has been discussed, carrying in a Mavoy (see daf 2) is also permitted if a “Lehi” (side post) is placed vertically against one of the walls at the entrance to the Mavoy. A Lehi is a pole, plank, or other object that is at least ten tefahim high. Like the cross beam, it serves as a fourth wall and/or as a “heker” (reminder) to indicate the beginning of the public domain so that people will not transfer objects from the Mavoy to the adjacent Reshut ha'Rabim (= public domain). The Gemara quotes Rami bar Hama in the name of Rav Huna as saying that in the event that the Lehi is part of the structure of the Mavoy (i.e. it was not placed there specifically for the purpose of being a Lehi), if it protrudes from the wall into the opening of the Mavoy less than four amot (=cubits), it can function as a working Lehi. If, however, it is longer than four amot, then it will not work, and a different side post is needed to permit carrying in the Mavoy. The reason for this, according to Rashi, is that if the Lehi is longer than four amot – and it was not erected to act as a symbolic Lehi – it is merely part of the Mavoy’s wall, but it is not long enough to be considered a wall to close the Mavoy off from the public domain properly. Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua comments that this is only true if the Mavoy’s entrance is eight amot wide or greater; if it is seven amot, then even if the four ama wall cannot act as a Lehi, nevertheless carrying will be permitted because that side post sufficiently seals off the entrance to the alleyway. Rav Ashi argues that even if the entrance is exactly eight amot, a protruding side post of four amot will permit carrying in the Mavoy for one of a number of reasons: If the wall is longer than the open space, it is permitted because the majority of the entrance is closed up. If the wall is shorter than the open space, it is permitted because it can be considered a functioning, symbolic Lehi If they are exactly the same size, then it falls into the category of an uncertainty with regard to rabbinic law – a doubtful circumstance in a rabbinic situation, where we are lenient. The suggestion that the standing wall may be precisely the same size as the open area is connected with a general dilemma that is often discussed in the Gemara – is it ever possible for us to establish that two things are precisely identical? The Rishonim (Tosafot and others) debate this issue, and some conclude that Rav Ashi’s argument indicates that we, as fallible human beings, can never conclude with certainty that two things are precisely equal.
Eiruvin 4a-b: Sources for Determining Measurements
13/08/2020 - 23th of Av, 5780
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In the discussion of the varying size of the “ama” (=cubit) measurement, the Gemara points to the dimensions of the Mizbei’ah – the altar in the Temple – as an example of a structure with “amot” of varying sizes. The height of the Mizbei’ah (including the corner Keranot, or horns) was ten amot – but not all of the amot were measured the same way, so the total height was 58 tefahim (=handbreadths), rather than 60 tefahim. There were five places on the Mizbei’ah that were measured in amot of five tefahim each. They were: The height of the Yesod (foundation) The width of the Yesod The width of the Sovev (the ledge around the Mizbei’ah) The height of the Keranot (the raised corners) The width of the Keranot From the passage that is quoted from the book of Yehezkel (43:13) that describes the Mizbei’ah it is clear that the Navi describes the Mizbei’ah as having two different types of “ama” measurements. Nevertheless, the passages in Sefer Yehezkel that deal with the measurements of the third Temple that is to be built in the future are unclear, and they are interpreted by the Sages of the Gemara in different ways. Following the discussion of different measurements, the Gemara brings Rabbi Hiyya bar Ashi in the name of Rav who says that the rules of Shi’urim (=measurements), Hatzitzim (=intervening substances) and Mehitzim (=partitions) are all based on an oral tradition received by Moshe on Mount Sinai. With regard to measurements, the Gemara objects that they are, in fact, rooted in a biblical passage because Rav Hanan interprets the passage (Devarim 8:8) describing the seven species of agricultural products with which the Land of Israel is blessed, as teaching rules about measurements. Apparently Rav Hanan perceived the praise of the Land of Israel to be so significant that even a foundational law – like establishing basic measurements – could be based upon it. As an example, Rav Hanan derives that the standard amount of food that one must eat to be held liable for eating non-Kosher (and most other prohibited foods) is the size of an olive (“Zayit”). From “Dvash” (=honey), the last of the seven species mentioned, we derive the measure of food that makes someone liable for eating on Yom Kippur – an amount of food the size of a plump date. In the realm of eating that is forbidden, Yom Kippur is unique. The Torah never forbids “eating” on Yom Kippur; rather it commands the Jewish people to suffer “inuy” – affliction – on that day. The Rabbinic Sages understood this to mean that, while we should not eat, one does not reach a level of satisfaction beyond “inuy” until he eats the amount of a date (which is larger than an olive). The conclusion of the Gemara is that the derivations based on this passage can, at best, act as hints to the law, and that the true source is the oral tradition, as presented initially.
Eiruvin 3a-b: Decorative Doorways
12/08/2020 - 22th of Av, 5780
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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In the continuing discussion of Rabbi Yehuda and the Hakhamim regarding the maximum height of the cross beam – the board that symbolically closes the open end of a Mavoy – the Gemara quotes a baraita which states that the cross beam can be placed more than 20 amot (=cubits) from the floor if the cross beam is decorated in a way that makes it stand out in an obvious way, thus fulfilling its purpose as a “heker” (a reminder). The suggestion stems from the fact that such a decoration – called an “Amaltera” (cornice) – appeared over the doorway in the Temple, which, according to our Gemara, is the model for the rules of the Mavoy (an alleyway that is surrounded by courtyards on three sides, with the fourth side open to the public domain). Two opinions are brought by the Gemara to define what the “Amaltera” looked like. Rav Hama says that it was decorative wood carvings in the shape of birds’ nests (“Kinei”), while Rav Dimi reported that in Israel the tradition was that they were cedar poles (“Paskei D’Arza”). Some commentaries explain that the birds’ nests were small, decorative openings made in the side of the wall, underneath the cross beam, where occasionally birds would nest. According to the Aruk, the boards of cedar wood jutted out from the walls at the edges underneath the cross beam, with each board set a little bit deeper into the wall. This descending pattern created an optical illusion that the cross beam was closer to the ground than it really was. With regard to the height that has been discussed – 20 amot – the Gemara presents a difference of opinion about how an “ama” is defined. It is important to understand that, before measurements were standardized, they were based on the approximate length of a handbreadth (tefah) or an arms-length (ama), so there were bound to be variations in the measurements. According to Abayye, some dimensions in Jewish law are measured with an ama that is five tefahim long, while others are measured with a six-tefah ama. Rava, on the other hand, maintains that all measures use the six-tefah ama. The varying length of the “ama” stems from whether the fingers are held together loosely – “sohakot” (smiling) – or held close together – “atzeivot” (sad). The Aruk explains that the longer “ama” is made up of tefahim where the fingers are held loosely, like a man whose lips are spread far apart. The shorter “ama,” comprised of tefahim with the fingers held tightly together, is similar to a sad person who purses his lips tightly together.
Eiruvin 2a-b: Can Height Make an Entrance?
11/08/2020 - 21th of Av, 5780
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 (2a) introduces us to a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda and the Hakhamim as to whether the cross beam – the board that symbolically closes the open end of a Mavoy – can be placed above 20 amot (= cubits) from the ground (Rabbi Yehuda) or needs to be 20 amot off the ground or lower (Hakhamim). (Note: A Mavoy is an alleyway that is surrounded by courtyards on three sides, with the fourth side open to a Reshut ha'Rabim – the public domain. The people of the surrounding courtyards must pass through the Mavoy in order to go out to the street. Carrying in a Mavoy is rabbinically prohibited, because the Mavoy is similar to a public domain in that many households make use of it as a thoroughfare.) The first suggestion of the Gemara is that Rabbi Yehuda and the Hakhamim agree that the cross beam is modeled after the entrance to the Temple. They differ as to whether it is similar to the doorway to the Sanctuary, which was 20 amot high, or the doorway of the Entrance Hall, which was 40 amot high. The Gemara concludes, however, that this disagreement does not have its source in a dispute about how to understand the passages in the Torah describing the entrance to the Temple; Rabbi Yehuda’s lenient position stems from his comparison to the entrances to the palaces of kings, which are usually very wide and very tall. Taking a different approach, the Jerusalem Talmud (and similarly the Me’iri and the Bartenura) explains that the disagreement is based on a basic difference of opinion about the purpose and significance of the cross beam. According to the Hakhamim the purpose of the symbolic board is to act as a “heker” – a recognizable statement and reminder that the Mavoy ends and the public domain begins. If the board is placed above 20 amot, it may not be seen and thus does not fulfill that purpose. According to Rabbi Yehuda, the cross beam acts as a real wall – from a legal standpoint – based on the principle “Pi Tikra Yored V’Sotem” (we consider the edge of a wall to go down and close off the area), and this legal fiction works even at a height of more than 20 amot.
Shabbat 157a-b: Nullification of Vows
10/08/2020 - 20th of Av, 5780
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The final Mishna of Massekhet Shabbat focuses on the nullification of vows on Shabbat.
A father or husband may nullify his daughter’s or his wife’s vows on Shabbat, and one may request from a Sage to dissolve vows that are for the purpose of Shabbat. Failure to dissolve the vow will compromise one’s fulfillment of the mitzva to delight in Shabbat.
The halakhot of vows and their nullification are stated in the Torah (Bamidbar, Chapter 30) and explained in an entire tractate, tractate Nedarim. In essence, when either a young woman still under her father’s auspices or a married woman takes a vow, her father or her husband respectively can nullify the vow on the day that he hears it if he does not approve of it. The Sages explained based on the verses that this is permitted only in certain situations. Only vows taken with regard to matters between the woman and her husband or between the young woman and her father can be nullified. Vows that do not affect the woman’s relationship with her husband or father cannot be nullified. Vows may not only be nullified; one may also request that a sage dissolve his vow. Although this does not appear explicitly in the Torah, the Sages found allusions to it in the same portion. One who took a vow can request that a single Sage or a court of three dissolve it. Tractate Nedarim deals extensively with the problems that arise in this process. The standard scenario involves the person who took the vow declaring that he did not initially anticipate that it would be so difficult to fulfill the vow, and had he known, he would not have taken the vow in the first place. There is no designated time frame for dissolving one’s vows and one can request that his vows be dissolved at any time. There are also some vows that a Sage cannot dissolve, e.g., a vow made to another person, which would require that person’s agreement to dissolve it. In addition, a vow cannot be dissolved if it was taken before a large group and was contingent on their agreement.
Shabbat 156a-b: Astrology in the Talmud
09/08/2020 - 19th of Av, 5780
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On today’s daf the Gemara turns its attention to the question of astrology and the influence of the stars on people. Astrology, which was considered to be a serious science over the course of many generations, was highly developed in Babylonia. Nevertheless, the Talmud discusses astrology relatively infrequently and when it does, the discussion is on the level of folklore, lacking development or complexity. This is apparently because most of the Sages maintained that the constellations do not control the Jewish people. Some of the qualities ascribed here to various astrological signs are related to the visible qualities of the stars themselves, like the qualities attributed to the sun and the moon. Those born under the sign of Venus are ascribed certain qualities because the luminaries were hung on that day. This may be explained because the conclusion of Shabbat is the time associated with Venus, and it is also the time when, according to the Rabbis, fire was discovered by people. Mercury is described as the sun’s scribe because even the early astrologers were aware that it was the closest planet to the sun. Saturn is generally regarded as a sign related to misfortune, even though it is ascribed a different meaning here. Jupiter is considered a sign of fortune and righteousness. Mars was considered to be a sign of war and murder, because of its red color and because of its association with the Roman god Mars. Do the stars truly affect us? The Gemara relates:
It was stated that Rabbi Hanina says: A constellation makes one wise and a constellation makes one wealthy, and there is a constellation for the Jewish people that influences them. Rabbi Yohanan said: There is no constellation for the Jewish people that influences them. The Jewish people are not subject to the influence of astrology. And Rabbi Yohanan follows his own reasoning, as Rabbi Yohanan said: From where is it derived that there is no constellation for the Jewish people? As it is stated: “Thus said the Lord: Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them” (Yirmiyahu 10:2). The nations will be dismayed by them, but not the Jewish people.
Many commentaries discussed Rabbi Hanina’s opinion and concluded that he does not mean to say that everything is determined by one’s constellation. He himself stated: Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for fear of Heaven; i.e., the choice between good and evil remains in the purview of human beings.
Shabbat 155a-b: Feeding Animals on Shabbat
08/08/2020 - 18th of Av, 5780
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On today’s daf the Mishna turns its attention to feeding animals on Shabbat. The Mishna teaches:
One may not forcibly overfeed a camel on Shabbat and one may not force-feed it, even if in doing so he does not overfeed the camel. However, one may place food into its mouth. One may add water to bran used as animal feed, but one may not knead the mixture. And one may not place water before bees or before doves in a dove-cote, because they are capable of finding their own food; however, one may place water before geese and chickens and before hardisian [hardeisiyyot] doves.
The question of feeding an animal depends on one’s responsibility for that animal. This is clarified in the following teaching that appears in the Gemara:
One may place sustenance before a dog on Shabbat, but one may not place sustenance before a pig. And what is the difference between this and that? In this case of the dog, responsibility for its sustenance is incumbent upon you, and in that case of the pig, responsibility for its sustenance is not incumbent upon you, as no Jew raises pigs.
The Me’iri argues that the Gemara’s intention is to permit feeding a dog even if the person does not own it. He explains this based on the verse concerning the halakhot of an animal with a condition that will cause it to die within twelve months [tereifa]: “You shall cast it to a dog” (Shemot 22:30), basing himself on the idea that the dogs were rewarded for their behavior during the Exodus: “Against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog whet his tongue,” (Shemot 11:7). The Me’iri also notes that the discussion about feeding animals would not be applied to people. Thus, even if it is prohibited to feed an animal on Shabbat if one is not responsible for its sustenance, it is permitted to give a gentile food in one’s courtyard despite the fact that responsibility for his sustenance is not incumbent upon a Jew. The Sages draw a distinction between the cases. A Jew is required to treat gentiles well in order to encourage good relations, much as he gives charity to both gentiles and Jews. Furthermore, since people are considered more important than other beings, the Sages permit giving food to a gentile on Shabbat in order to preserve human dignity.
Shabbat 154a-b: Working With Animals on Shabbat - II
07/08/2020 - 17th of Av, 5780
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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On yesterday’s daf we learned that Rami bar Hama believes that working an animal on Shabbat is no less severe than when a person works himself. Others disagree.
Rabbi Yohanan said: One who drives a laden animal on Shabbat is exempt from any punishment. The Gemara explains: For driving the animal unwittingly, he is not liable to bring a sin-offering because all of the prohibitions in the Torah were juxtaposed to the prohibition of idolatry, from which the principle is derived that one is liable only for actions that he himself performed. And for driving the animal intentionally, he is also not liable to be executed by stoning, as we learned in the Mishna: One who desecrates Shabbat by performing a matter that for its unwitting performance one is liable to bring a sin-offering, and for its intentional performance one is liable to be executed by stoning. By inference, for a matter that for its unwitting performance one is not liable to bring a sin-offering, for its intentional performance one is not liable to be executed by stoning.
The Gemara argues that an individual who makes an animal work on Shabbat is not even liable to receive lashes:
Even though the Torah explicitly warns against performing labor on Shabbat, it is a prohibition that was fundamentally given, not as a standard prohibition punishable by lashes, but rather as a warning of court-imposed capital punishment, and for any prohibition that was given as a warning of court-imposed capital punishment, if the death penalty is not imposed for any reason, one is not flogged for its violation.
In principle, one who violates a Torah prohibition after being forewarned by witnesses is flogged with forty lashes. However, there are certain categories of prohibitions for which one is not punished with lashes. One such type is called “a prohibition that was given as a warning of court-imposed capital punishment.” In other words, a prohibition whose punishment is explicitly articulated in the Torah as court-imposed capital punishment is excluded from the punishment of lashes. This is patently clear in a case where one is actually sentenced to death. Based on the principle that two punishments are not imposed for one transgression, the one being punished receives the more severe punishment, i.e., execution. The same principle applies to a case where the death sentence cannot be administered for some reason, e.g., where there was no forewarning. Since this prohibition possesses an element of the death penalty, it is classified as a prohibition that was given as a warning of court-imposed capital punishment, and there is no possibility of punishment by lashes.
Shabbat 153a-b: Working With Animals on Shabbat - I
06/08/2020 - 16th of Av, 5780
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The twenty-fourth (and final) perek of Massekhet Shabbat begins on today’s daf. The halakhot discussed in this chapter relate primarily to what may and may not be done for animals on Shabbat. Some of these issues have already been addressed in earlier chapters, and Chapter Five was devoted to clarifying the laws of transporting items that are on an animal from one domain to another on Shabbat. This chapter addresses a more limited and specific issue, namely, the details of the prohibition of driving a laden animal on Shabbat. For example, what is the source of the prohibition? The Gemara considers whether the Torah expressly forbids driving a laden animal, whether the prohibition stems from a rabbinic decree not to make use of animals, or whether it is derived from the positive command to allow animals to rest. Similarly, the chapter examines the severity and scope of this prohibition.
With regard to the topic of driving a donkey on Shabbat, the Gemara cites that which Rami bar Hama said: With regard to one who drives his laden animal on Shabbat, if he does so unwittingly, he is liable to bring a sin-offering, and if he does so intentionally, he is liable to be executed by stoning. The Gemara asks: What is the reason for this ruling? Rava said that the verse states: “You shall not perform any manner of labor, neither you…nor your animal” (Shemot 20:9). From this he derived: His animal is similar to himself; just as he, if he performed a prohibited labor on Shabbat unwittingly, he is liable to bring a sin-offering, and if he did so intentionally, he is liable to be executed by stoning, so too, if he performed a prohibited labor by means of his animal, if he did so unwittingly, he is liable to bring a sin-offering, and if he did so intentionally, he is liable to be executed by stoning.
Rava’s explanation notwithstanding, the ruling quoted in the name of Rami bar Hama is ultimately rejected, as we will see on tomorrow’s daf.
Shabbat 152a-b: The Challenges of Aging
05/08/2020 - 15th of Av, 5780
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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In a lengthy aggadic passage on today’s daf the Gemara addresses old age:
Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta: For what reason did we not greet you during the Festival the way that my fathers greeted your fathers? This was a polite way of asking Rabbi Shimon ben Ĥalafta why he had not come to visit Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. He said to him: Because I have grown old, and the rocks on the road have become tall, and destinations that are near have become far away, and my two feet have been made into three with the addition of a cane, and that which brings peace to the house, namely, the sexual drive which motivates a couple to make peace, is no more.
The Gemara describes examples of the weakness and illness that accompany old age. The protrusion of the hip bone is particularly noticeable when an elderly person suffers from weight loss as a result of the weakness of old age, known as senile marasmus. The metaphors used by Rabbi Shimon ben Ĥalafta have been interpreted in a variety of different ways. According to the midrash in Vayikra Rabba“destinations that are near have become far away” means that the ears that could once hear well, can now only hear with difficulty and from close by. The Anaf Yosef interprets “that which brings peace to the house” as a phrase that is referring to digestion, which makes peace within one’s body. If one cannot properly digest his food, he suffers significant discomfort and a lack of internal peace. Regarding how aging affects one’s cognitive abilities, the Gemara distinguishes between people who are constantly active in their thinking and those who are not:
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, says: As Torah scholars grow older, wisdom is increased in them, as it is stated: “With aged men is wisdom; and length of days brings understanding” (Iyyov 12:12). And as ignoramuses grow older, foolishness is increased in them, as it is stated: “He removes the speech of men of trust and takes away the understanding of the aged” (Iyyov 12:20).
Shabbat 151a-b: Benefitting From the Activities of a Non-Jew on Shabbat
04/08/2020 - 14th of Av, 5780
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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In Talmudic times, it was customary for Jews and gentiles to play musical instruments during a funeral procession to intensify the feeling of mourning. It is apparent from the discussion in the Gemara that flutes were an essential component in preparing to bury the dead in an honorable fashion. The Mishna teaches:
One may wait for nightfall at the Shabbat boundary to attend to the needs of a bride and the needs of a corpse, such as to bring him a coffin and shrouds. If a gentile brought flutes on Shabbat in order to play music during the eulogy and funeral procession, a Jew may not eulogize with them as accompaniment, unless they were brought from a nearby location within the Shabbat boundary and transporting them did not include any violation of halakha.
The prohibition of amira le-akum – asking a non-Jew to perform forbidden Shabbat activities – is a complicated question. According to the Mekhilta there may be a Biblical prohibition involved, based on the passage in Sefer Shemot (12:16) that teaches that “no manner of work should be done in them” i.e., even if performed by a non-Jew. Nevertheless, the accepted ruling is that the prohibition is only of Rabbinic origin, an ordinance established in order to limit the possibility that a Jew will mistakenly perform a forbidden activity himself. There are two separate issues that need to be dealt with in such cases: 1. Requesting that the non-Jew perform the forbidden action, and 2. Benefitting from a forbidden action that was performed by the non-Jew, even if no request is made. In order to avoid these issues, the ruling in the case of our Mishna is that if a gentile brought flutes or anything else to be used for a Jewish burial on Shabbat, one must wait the amount of time that it takes to bring these objects from a nearby location before using them after Shabbat. If the location from which the objects were brought is known, one must wait the amount of time it takes to bring them from that specific place (Rambam Sefer Zemanim, Hilkhot Shabbat 6:5; Shulhan Aruk, Orah Ĥayyim 325:15).
Shabbat 150a-b: Sensitivity to Speech on Shabbat
03/08/2020 - 13th of Av, 5780
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Quoting a passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (58:13): “Nor pursuing your business, nor speaking of it” the Gemara explains that one must be careful about the topics of his conversation on Shabbat. At the same time the Gemara explains that although speaking about business on Shabbat is generally prohibited, it is permitted in certain cases because the verse is understood as forbidding “your business,” but the business of Heaven, that is, matters which have religious significance, one is permitted to speak of. What falls under the category of “the business of Heaven”? The Gemara explains:
Rav Hisda and Rav Hamnuna both said: It is permitted to make calculations pertaining to a mitzva on Shabbat, and Rabbi Elazar said that this means that one may apportion charity for the poor on Shabbat. And Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi said that Rabbi Yohanan said: One may attend to activities necessary for saving a life or for communal needs on Shabbat, and one may go to a synagogue to attend to communal affairs on Shabbat. And Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani said that Rabbi Yohanan said: One may go to theaters [tarteiot], and circus performances [kirkesaot], and courthouses [basilkaot] to attend to communal affairs on Shabbat.
What sort of communal affairs took place in these settings? Permission to enter theaters and circuses on Shabbat was not limited to public gatherings at which important decisions were made relating to the city, but also applied to entrance during performances. The entertainment that took place in the theaters and circuses of Talmudic times were not identical to today’s activities. The source of the word kirkesaot, for example, is from the Latin circus, meaning an arena where fights between animals or between animals and humans were staged for the public. At times, Jews were brought out before the audience either as a form of public disgrace or to participate in matches with gladiators or with animals. Oftentimes, it was possible for the crowd to save the lives of the fighters, and for this reason attending these events was considered a matter of saving Jewish lives and protecting the community.
Shabbat 149a-b: Gambling at the Dining Room Table
02/08/2020 - 12th of Av, 5780
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 Gemara on today’s daf restates the Mishna at the end of yesterday’s daf as teaching:
A person may draw lots with his children and his family members at the table, and he may even do so with a large portion against a small portion. What is the reason for this? It is in accordance with the ruling that Rav Yehuda said that Rav said.
Rav Yehuda quoted Rav as saying that since all of the money really belongs to the head of the household, there is no problem using money as an educational device, and even lending money with interest is permitted within the family. The Gemara continues:
Although with one’s children and family members, yes, this is permitted, with others it is not. What is the reason for this? It is in accordance with the ruling that Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: Raffling a large portion against a small portion is prohibited to do for other people, even on a weekday. What is the reason? Due to the prohibition against gambling with dice, which is prohibited by rabbinic law as a form of theft.
Dice players, who are professional gamblers, are among the people that the Sages disqualified as witnesses. The Sages disagreed with regard to the rationale for this halakha, with the Gemara in Massekhet Sanhedrin (daf 25) offering two explanations for this. Rami bar Hama taught that the problem with a dice player is one of asmakhta - when gambling, neither side thinks that he will lose which will lead to a situation where the winner takes the loser’s money against his will. Therefore, one who takes money in this fashion is considered a robber by rabbinic decree. Tosafot offer a somewhat similar explanation. Rav Sheshet, on the other hand, taught that the problem with a dice player is that he is eino osek be-yishuvo shel olam - that someone who makes his living by gambling is not involved in positive community activities. Thus, even according to those who say that money won through gambling is not considered stolen, gambling is nonetheless considered despicable behavior.
Shabbat 148a-b: Prohibiting Commercial Activity on Shabbat
01/08/2020 - 11th of Av, 5780
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 twenty-third perek of Massekhet Shabbat begins on today’s daf ,and its focus is the rabbinic decree against commercial activity on Shabbat. The prohibition of commercial activity on Shabbat is one of the earliest known decrees enacted by the Sages to protect Torah law. This decree is generally explained as a protective measure to prevent writing on Shabbat, as commercial activity generally requires writing in order to record and approve legally binding transactions. Although Torah law does not prohibit commercial activity itself on Shabbat, commercial transactions often entail numerous activities that are prohibited on Shabbat, such as carrying objects from one domain to another, fixing utensils or completing their production, and handling objects that may not be handled on Shabbat. As the decree prohibiting commercial activity was already widely known and accepted in talmudic times, this chapter examines the scope of the prohibition and seeks to determine precisely which activities fall under the decree. In addition to prohibiting direct and explicitly formulated business transactions, the decree also encompasses related activities, such as hiring workers and granting or receiving a loan. However, since the source of this prohibition is rabbinic, there are instances where there is room for leniency, such as when the commercial activity is for the sake of a mitzva or when there is no concern for possible violation of Shabbat. An example appears in the first Mishna of the perek:
One may borrow jugs of wine and jugs of oil from another on Shabbat, as long as one does not say the following to him: Loan me. And similarly, a woman may borrow from another loaves of bread on Shabbat. And if the lender does not trust him that he will return them, the borrower may leave his cloak with him as collateral and make the proper calculation with him after Shabbat. And similarly, on the eve of Passover in Jerusalem, when it occurs on Shabbat, one who is procuring a Paschal lamb may leave his cloak with him, i.e., the person from whom he is purchasing it, and take the lamb to bring as his Paschal lamb, and then make the proper calculation with him after the Festival.