Talmud

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Eiruvin 77a-b: Does a Thin Wall Exist for the Purpose of Eiruv?
25/10/2020 - 7th of Cheshvan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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According to the Mishna (76b) one case where two courtyards cannot join together to make a single eiruv is when there is a wall between them that is ten tefahim (handbreadths) high and four tefahim thick. In such a case, the wall itself is a separate reshut ha-yahid, a private domain (see Massekhet Shabbat), so if there is fruit at the top of the wall, people can go to the top of the wall, eat it – and carry there, as well. The fruit, however, cannot be carried down into the houses in the courtyards. What if the wall is less than four tefahim thick?
Rav said: In this case, the air of two domains controls it. Since the wall is not broad enough to be regarded a domain of its own, the top of the wall is seen as belonging to both courtyards and is then prohibited to both of them. Accordingly, one may not move anything on top of the wall, even as much as a hair’s breadth. And Rabbi Yohanan said: These residents of one courtyard may raise food from their courtyard to the top of the wall and eat it there, and they may lower the food from the wall to the courtyard; and those residents of the other courtyard may raise food from their courtyard and eat it there, and they may lower the food from the wall to the courtyard. This is because the wall is considered nonexistent, and its domain is viewed as part of the two courtyards.
Rabbi Yohanan’s reference to an exempt domain (makom petur) is a well-known halakha, and the Gemara reacts with surprise to the suggestion that Rav does not accept it. In explanation, the Gemara distinguishes between rabbinic domains and Biblical domains. With regard to Biblical domains like public and private areas, Rav fully accepts the rule of makom petur. With regard to rabbinic domains, like a courtyard, which Biblically is considered private, and only rabbinically needs to arrange an eiruv, Rav argues that “the Sages reinforced their statements even more than those of the Torah.” It sounds odd to suggest that the Sages were stricter with rabbinic ordinances than with Biblical prohibitions. Tosafot explain that this does not mean that they are taken more seriously. Rather, recognizing that the public is apt to be more careful about Biblical commands than rabbinic ones, they were more inclined to establish measures to protect the integrity of regulations established by the Rabbis. At the same time the Sages limited this rule and did not apply it in situations that are uncommon or in areas of halakha like monetary matters.
Eiruvin 76a-b: Windows of Circles and Squares
24/10/2020 - 6th of Cheshvan, 5781
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 sixth chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin dealt with situations where two courtyards joined together and became one unit for the rules of eiruv and carrying on Shabbat. The seventh perek,which begins on ouropens by discussing cases where hatzeirot (courtyards) that are next to one another either cannot join each other, are obligated to join each other, or are permitted to do so. The first Mishna deals with courtyards that are divided by a wall which has a window in it. If the window is within ten tefahim (handbreadths) of the ground and is minimally four tefahim square in size, then the courtyards can choose whether or not to join as one. If the window is higher than ten tefahim or smaller than four by four, the hatzeirot are considered separate and need to make their own eiruvin. Rabbi Yohanan in the Gemara introduces the possibility of a round window, arguing that it would need to be 24 tefahim in circumference in order to ensure that a square inscribed in that window would be at least four by four. In the ensuing discussion about the relationship between circles and squares, the Gemara explains that Rabbi Yohanan’s position is based on the rule taught by the judges of Caesarea that “a square inscribed within a circle is half of the square.” Later on in the Gemara, Rabbi Yohanan’s position is rejected in its entirety as being based on an error. Rabbi Ya’akov Kahane in his Ge’on Ya’akov argues that Rabbi Yohanan knew that his figures were not accurate, but chose to present a larger than necessary rule so that, in case of a mistake, there would be well over the minimum four by four, leaving room for error. Nevertheless, many attempts have been made to try and explain the mathematical positions presented by these Sages. In explaining the rule of the judges of Caesarea, Tosafot argue that they are discussing the case of a square inscribed in a circle, which, itself, is inscribed in a square. By drawing lines that bisect the outer square, the circle and the inner square, it becomes clear that the inner square is half the size of the outer one. The inner square is made up of four triangles, each of which is half of the four smaller squares that together make up the outer square.
Eiruvin 75a-b: Joining Together in a Courtyard Eiruv
23/10/2020 - 5th of Cheshvan, 5781
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 on our daf discusses the case where there are two courtyards – an outer one that opens to the street and an inner one that opens to the outer one. In the event that the residents of these two hatzeirot (courtyards) put an eiruv in “one place” in order to allow them to be considered one unit – and carry in both of them – if any resident forgets to participate in the eiruv, then carrying will be forbidden in both of the hatzeirot. Rav Yehuda in the name of Rav interprets the term “one place” in the Mishna to mean that the eiruv is placed in the outer courtyard, which is referred to in that way since it is a place that is singular in that it is available for use to members of both hatzeirot. This interpretation is supported by a baraita, which continues and teaches that if the eiruv is placed in the inner courtyard, and one of the outer residents neglected to participate in the eiruv, according to the hakhamim members of the inner courtyard can continue to carry within their hatzer, even though the residents of the outer courtyard no longer have a valid eiruv. This is because the residents of the inner courtyard can figuratively shut the door between the two courtyards and have a valid eiruv just in their hatzer. Furthermore, argues the Gemara, the residents of the inner courtyard can undo their relationship with their partners outside by saying, “We joined with you in a single eiruv to our benefit, and not to our detriment.” A similar statement is made regarding the rules of shlihut – of sending a representative agent – in halakha. The terminology there is almost identical: “I sent you to represent me to improve my situation, not to damage it.” The basis for this is that appointing someone to represent you (and, similarly, to establish an eiruv) is predicated on the assumption that they will represent your best interests, and if they do not, the appointment is void retroactively. Obviously, such an argument cannot be applied in every case, but will only be possible to accept in a case where the shaliah does something inappropriate that was not within his purview. Similarly, in our case, it is the inappropriate behavior of the person in the outer hatzer that allows this argument to be made.
Eiruvin 74a-b: Defining an Alleyway
22/10/2020 - 4th of Cheshvan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara is interested in clarifying the definitions of some of the terms that it uses in describing the courtyards that need eiruvin and the relationships that exist between them. Generally speaking, a mavoy is the closed alleyway into which a number of hatzeirot – courtyards – open. As we have learned, the residents of the courtyards can arrange to carry by placing a symbolic board at the entrance to the mavoy (see 2a-b). According to Rav, this is only the case if a number of courtyards open into the mavoy (that is to say, the mavoy must have at least two courtyards opening into it, and each courtyard needs at least two houses in it), but Shmuel rules that as long as one hatzer and one house opens into the closed area, it is considered a mavoy.
Rav Beruna sat and recited this halakha stated by Shmuel, that an alleyway containing one house and one courtyard can be rendered permitted for carrying by means of a side post or a cross beam. Rabbi Elazar, a student of a Torah academy, said to him: Did Shmuel really say this? Rav Beruna said to him: Yes, he did. He said to him: Show me his lodging and I will go and ask him myself, and he showed him. Rabbi Elazar came before Shmuel and said to him: Did the Master actually say this? Shmuel said to him: Yes, I did. Rabbi Elazar raised the following objection: Wasn’t it the Master himself who said concerning a different issue: With regard to the halakhot of eiruv, we have only the wording of our mishna. The mishna states that an alleyway is to its courtyards like a courtyard is to its houses, which indicates that an alleyway must have at least two courtyards in order to be considered an alleyway and be rendered permitted for carrying through a side post or cross beam. Shmuel was silent and did not answer him.
Shmuel’s silence is not unique in the Gemara; we find many instances where one of the Sages does not respond to a question posed to him. How to interpret the lack of response, though, is not clear. It could be that the Sage does not have an answer to the question, but it could also be that the Sage does not think that the question is a good one, and feels that it does not deserve a response. Some suggest that every question needs to be evaluated according to the relationship between the people involved. Tosafot suggest that if a student asks the question, the silence may simply indicate a rejection of the question. If a peer asks the question, it likely shows that he had no answer. Nevertheless, even if the Sage has no answer to the question, it does not prove that he is retracting his opinion. The question may not be of great importance (in this case, for example, Shmuel may retain his belief that the mavoy does not need two hatzeirot opening into it, and will back away from his general statement about how to read Mishnayot in this tractate), and not strong enough to reject the halakha.
Eiruvin 73a-b: Including Wives and Slaves in an Eiruv
21/10/2020 - 3rd of Cheshvan, 5781
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 (72b) teaches about children who live in separate dwellings in a courtyard – a hatzer – together with their father. Although they sleep in their own apartments, they eat with their father. If no one else lives in the hatzer, they are considered one family unit and can carry there without an eiruv. If there are other families in the hatzer, there is a need for an eiruv. The Gemara on our daf discusses other cases where members of the same family share residence in a single courtyard.
The Sages taught in a baraita: With regard to one who has five wives who receive a portion from their husband while each living in her own quarters in the courtyard, and five slaves who receive a portion from their master while living in their own lodgings in the courtyard, Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira permits in the case of the wives, i.e., they do not each have to contribute separately to the eiruv, as they are all considered to be residing with their husband. And he prohibits in the case of the slaves, meaning that he holds that as they live in separate houses, each is considered as residing on his own. Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava permits in the case of the slaves, as a slave necessarily follows his master, and he prohibits in the case of the wives, as each woman is significant in her own right, and is not totally dependent on her husband.
The Ra’avad explains that the first position, that allows the wives to be considered part of their husband’s eiruv, is because with regard to many halakhot (Yibum, for example) the wives are considered to be connected, so that whatever applies to one of them applies to all of them. The second opinion, that servants are more connected than the man’s wives, he explains by pointing out that they are considered by the halakha as his property, and therefore fall under his rule, as opposed to his wives who retain their independent status, even as they are supported by him. Most of the rishonim rule like Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava, because the Gemara quotes Rav as bringing a passage from Sefer Daniel (2:49) in explanation of his position, indicating that Rav accepts it. Maimonides, who rules that both wives and servants can rely on the eiruv made by their husband or owner, appears to accept the reasoning behind each argument.
Eiruvin 72a-b: Establishing an Eiruv in a Teraklin
20/10/2020 - 2nd of Cheshvan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on our daf returns to the subject of eiruvei hatzeirot, which permit people to carry within a closed area on Shabbat. The discussion revolves around several independent groups of people who are staying in a large hall – a teraklin – and subdivide it by putting up partitions between them. Each partitioned room had a separate entrance to a courtyard that was shared with other houses. In the original Latin, a teraklin was a room that contained three couches on which people reclined, but its meaning later expanded to mean any large room for guests.
Beit Shammai say: An eiruv is required for each and every group, i.e., each group must contribute separately to the eiruv of the courtyard, as each is considered a different house. And Beit Hillel say: One eiruv suffices for all of them, as the partitions do not render the different sections separate houses.
In clarifying what types of partitions the Mishna is discussing, a baraita is quoted in the name of Rabbi Yehuda Hasabbar ["the keen"], who teaches that the disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel is only in a case where the partitions do not reach the ceiling. If the partitions do reach the ceiling, then they are considered full-fledged walls, and even Beit Hillel would agree that the people are in separate “houses” and would need to contribute to the eiruv individually. Rashi explains that Rabbi Yehuda Hasabbar was called “hasabbar” because his sevara – his reasoning – was very sharp. Tosafot, however, are inclined to accept one of the variant readings of his name, either “ha-Sabakh”, because he professionally made Sevakhot – a type of netting used in women's hair covering – or “ha-Sakkakh” because he was from the city of Sekhakha. Rabbi Yaakov Emden, in his commentary of the Gemara suggests that Tosafot was surprised by the suggestion that only one of the tannaim would be singled out to receive the approbation “hasabbar” due to his sharpness. As far as the halakha is concerned, the discussion of the Mishna only applies when the groups came for a temporary stay. If these partitioned areas were their permanent homes, they would certainly need an eiruv, even if the partitions did not reach the ceiling. On the other hand, if they were guests of the owner of the house just for Shabbat they would not need an eiruv at all.
Eiruvin 71a-b: A Partnership in Wine
19/10/2020 - 1st of Cheshvan, 5781
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
We have learned that in order to create an eiruv that would allow residents of the houses surrounding the courtyard to carry on Shabbat, the residents all need to become partners in food which will legally create a common community among them. The Mishna on our daf discusses a case where a business relationship – a partnership between neighbors – already exists. If a homeowner was in partnership with his neighbors, with this one in wine and with that one in wine, they need not establish an eiruv, for due to their authentic partnership they are considered to be one household, and no further partnership is required. If, however, he was in partnership with this one in wine and with that one in oil, they must establish an eiruv. As they are not partners in the same item, they are not all considered one partnership. Rabbi Shimon says: In both this case and that case, i.e., even if he partners with his neighbors in different items, they need not establish an eiruv. In the Gemara, Rav emphasizes that the case where the business partnership can, itself, be considered an eiruv would only be if the wine was all in one barrel. If, however, there were two separate partnerships, each one with its own barrel of wine, the tanna kamma (first) would not consider that relationship enough to act as an eiruv. Rav Shmuel Strashon in his commentary to the Gemara (known as the Rashash) points out that Rav's explanation is based on the fact that we need to have a relationship between all parties in order for the partnership to have the effect of an eiruv. If one person is a partner separately with each neighbor, we do not have a true "community." Therefore the business partnership will only serve the purpose of an eiruv if all three of them are joined together – by virtue of a single barrel of wine.
Eiruvin 70a-b: Turning Over Inherited Rights
18/10/2020 - 30th of Tishrei, 5781
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
We have already learned that in the event that a person did not participate in the eiruv before Shabbat, he can be mevatel reshuto - turn over his rights in the courtyard to the other residents on Shabbat - in order to allow them to carry in the courtyard.
Rava raised a dilemma before Rav Nahman: With regard to an heir, what is the halakha regarding whether he may renounce rights in a courtyard? If a person who had forgotten to establish an eiruv died on Shabbat, may his heir renounce his rights in his stead?
Rava asks Rav Nahman whether someone who inherits property on Shabbat (i.e. his father did not participate in the eiruv and passed away on Shabbat) can do so. The question, as explained by the Gemara, is whether such a person is restricted from turning over his rights on Shabbat, since – as he was not the owner of the house before Shabbat – he could not have done so prior to Shabbat. On the other hand, he is stepping into his father's role regarding this inheritance, which may give him the same rights that his father had, including the right to be mevatel reshuto. It appears that the Gemara is trying to ascertain the status of the child with regard to his inheritance. The question is whether we see him in a role that is similar to a purchaser, in the sense that with his father's passing the property moves from his father's ownership into his possession, or do we view him as actually replacing his father, which would give him all of the powers and benefits that his father possessed with regard to this property. According to this possibility, from a legal perspective, the child would be seen as one-and-the-same as his father regarding the laws of property ownership. Rav Nahman responds that his opinion would be to allow the child who received his inheritance on Shabbat to turn over his rights to the other residents, but points out that the students of Shmuel disagree and do not allow him to do so. Following the rule that with regard to eiruvin we follow the more lenient opinion, the halakha follows the position of Rav Nahman, and regarding these rules the child is seen as stepping into his father's shoes, which allows him to be mevatel reshuto in this case.
Eiruvin 69a-b: Desecrating Shabbat in Public
17/10/2020 - 29th of Tishrei, 5781
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
In the Mishna at the beginning of the perek (61b), we learned that a non-Jew cannot participate in an eiruv unless he actually leases his rights to the courtyard to the Jews who are there. This is in contrast to a Jew who can turn over his rights to the other residents – even on Shabbat, if it had not been taken care of prior to Shabbat. Rabban Gamliel introduces the case of a Tzeduki, who seems to have the status of a non-Jew with regard to this halakha. The Gemara on our daf distinguishes between a person who is not Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) privately and one who desecrates Shabbat publicly. The public Shabbat desecrator will be considered a non-Jew with regard to this law, and the residents of the courtyard will have to rent his share of the hatzer (courtyard) in order to create an eiruv for carrying on Shabbat.
The Gemara now relates that a certain person went out with a coral ring into the public domain, and it is prohibited to do so on Shabbat. When he saw Rabbi Yehuda Nesia approaching, he quickly covered it. Although he was desecrating the Shabbat, he did not want the Sage to see it. Rabbi Yehuda Nesia said: A person such as this, who is careful not to desecrate Shabbat in public, may renounce his rights in his courtyard according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda.
(To understand why some jewelry cannot be worn on Shabbat, see Massekhet Shabbat). There are different girsa'ot – variant readings - in the Gemara as to whether the person in the story did this just one time or if he did this on a regular basis. What is clear, however, is that someone who is embarrassed about being seen by a religious leader desecrating Shabbat will not be placed in the category of "Mehalel Shabbat b'farhesya" (public desecrator of the Shabbat). On a biographical note, Rabbi Yehudah Nesi'ah was Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi's grandson – the son of Rabban Gamliel. He was a first generation amora, who was contemporary with Rabbi Yohanan and Resh Lakish. He had the responsibility as Nasi for many years, and was the last of the Nesi'im who was a great Torah scholar and also headed the Sanhedrin at the same time.
Eiruvin 68a-b: Active and Passive Prohibitions
16/10/2020 - 28th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned in yesterday's daf, Abaye was surprised to find that his teacher, Rabba, permitted a non-Jew to be asked to bring hot water to facilitate a brit mila on Shabbat in a place where there was no eiruv. Abaye asked why completing the ritual to purify someone who had become tame which is forbidden on Shabbat by the Sages - cannot be performed even if it is necessary to perform a mitzva (e.g. to sacrifice and eat the Passover sacrifice), yet in our case, asking a non-Jew to bring water for the brit is permitted? The Gemara's response to Abaye's question is that we distinguish between an "active" Rabbinic prohibition and a "passive" one. How to understand this distinction depends on different girsa'ot – variant readings – in the Gemara. The standard text of the Gemara argues that the case of the brit is passive because Rabba did not ask the non-Jew to heat the water, only to bring the water. According to this reading, our case is passive because the activity that was done was just moving something from one place to another, rather than being a creative activity. Rabbenu Hananel has a different text of the Gemara, which does not have the explanation that focused on whether the non-Jew needed to heat the water up. According to this version, the difference is between the Rabbinic decree of Amira la-Akum (asking a non-Jew to perform a forbidden act on Shabbat) and other Rabbinic ordinances, which involve direct activity, not merely speech, which is not considered an active behavior. The Ra'avad argues that this case is unique because it involves two Rabbinic ordinances – a shvut d'shvut. First of all, there is no action, only a request made by speaking. Secondly, the activity performed by the non-Jew – transferring water from the house to the courtyard - is, itself, not forbidden by the Torah, but only by the Rabbis. In this case, where it is necessary in order to perform the brit mila, the Rabbis never would have applied their restrictions.
Eiruvin 67a-b: Making Use of a Non-Jew on Shabbat
15/10/2020 - 27th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara tells a story about a brit mila (circumcision) that was taking place on Shabbat, where the hot water that had been prepared – and were essential to doing the brit properly – spilled. Rabba ordered that more water be brought from the house into the courtyard, but his student, Abaye, argued that a proper eiruv had not been made. Faced with that issue, Rabba suggested that a non-Jew be asked to bring the water. Asking a non-Jew to perform a forbidden act on Shabbat – Amira la-Akum - is, itself, Rabbinically forbidden. The Rosh explains that Rabba suggested making use of the non-Jew only in this case of a circumcision. Since a brit mila has the unique status of pushing aside Shabbat (see Massekhet Shabbat), it is logical that we would permit an act forbidden by the Sages, as well.
Abaye said: I wanted to raise an objection against the Master, Rabba, but Rav Yosef would not let me do so, as Rav Yosef said that Rav Kahana said: When we were in Rav Yehuda’s house, he would say to us when we were presented with a halakhic difficulty: With regard to a Torah law, we first raise objections and then we perform an act, i.e., if someone has an objection to a proposed action, we must first clarify the matter and only then may we proceed. However, with regard to rabbinic laws, we first perform an act and then we raise objections.
After the water had been brought and the circumcision performed, Abaye was asked to present his question. He asked why completing the ritual to purify someone who had become tame (ritually impure) - which is forbidden on Shabbat by the Sages - cannot be performed even if it is necessary to perform a mitzva (e.g. to sacrifice and eat the Passover sacrifice), yet in our case, asking a non-Jew to bring water for the brit is permitted? Abaye's question is particularly powerful because missing the opportunity to participate in the Passover sacrifice was punishable by karet (being cut off from the community), which is also the punishment for neglecting the commandment of circumcision. If anything, we would have anticipated that there is more reason to try and accommodate the person who wants to bring the sacrifice on Passover, since he has to do it on one particular day – the 14th of Nissan – while a child who is not circumcised on the eighth day can have the brit later on, as well. The Gemara's response to Abaye's question is that we distinguish between an "active" Rabbinic prohibition and a "passive" one. In our case, Amira la-Akum is passive, so we are more comfortable pushing it aside when necessary.
Eiruvin 66a-b: Renting From a Non-Jew on Shabbat
14/10/2020 - 26th of Tishrei, 5781
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 (65b) tells a number of stories that illustrate the rule about renting a non-Jew's rights to the courtyard in order to allow for the creation of an eiruv. In one story, a number of amoraim were staying at an inn, and did not have an opportunity to rent the non-Jew's space prior to Shabbat, simply because he was not around at that time. When he arrived, Shabbat had already begun. A discussion ensued as to whether renting from the non-Jew was similar to establishing an eiruv, which needs to be done before Shabbat begins, or, perhaps, it is more similar to the rule of being mevatel reshut - turning over one's rights in the courtyard to the others in order to allow them to carry - which can be done even on Shabbat.
Rabbi Hanina bar Yosef said: Let us rent, while Rabbi Asi said: Let us not rent. Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba said to them: Let us rely now on the words of the Elder, Rabbi Hanina bar Yosef, and rent. Later they came and asked Rabbi Yohanan about the matter, and he said to them: You acted well when you rented.
A similar story appears in the Jerusalem Talmud, where it is recorded that in response to Rabbi Yohanan's comment "it is a good thing that you arranged to rent it" Resh Lakish said "it is not a good thing." The ensuing discussion in the Jerusalem Talmud revolves around whether this is a disagreement about the halakha. One opinion is that Rabbi Yohanan feels that such a transaction can be done on Shabbat, permitting the eiruv, while Resh Lakish rules that it cannot be done on Shabbat and any such arrangement must be concluded prior to Shabbat. The other opinion understands that Resh Lakish did not fully understand what had taken place, and he thought that they had not concluded a rental agreement at all. His statement was "it is not a good thing that you carried." In any case, the accepted halakha (see Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 383) allows for such an arrangement to be made with a non-Jew even on Shabbat in order to facilitate carrying.
Eiruvin 65a-b: Jewish Law’s Views on Drinking
13/10/2020 - 25th of Tishrei, 5781
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As a side point to an earlier discussion (64a) Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel as teaching that a judge should not rule on cases if he has drunk a revi'it (one quarter if a log) of wine. This statement leads to a lengthy discussion in the Gemara of the ramifications in Jewish law of drinking, and distinctions made between drinking moderately and reaching "the drunkenness of Lot" (see Bereshit 19:30-36).
Rabbi Hanina said: They taught that an intoxicated person is responsible for all his actions only in a case where he did not reach the state of intoxication of Lot; however, if he reached the state of intoxication of Lot, so that he is altogether unaware of his actions, he is exempt from all liability.
According to Rabbi Hanina, someone who reaches that level of inebriation will not be held responsible for his actions, as he is not merely impaired in his decision-making capabilities, rather he is unable to function as a thinking person. Someone who has not reached that level is still held responsible for his actions, although the halakha will free him from his obligation in prayer – which demands a high level of concentration and reverence. Throughout the Talmud, the Gemara points to drinking wine as an activity that can lead to damage, sin, etc. The Ein Ya'akov, written by Rav Ya'akov ibn Habib, explains that this brings to the fore a basic question: If it is so dangerous, why was wine created? This quandary helps explain the closing discussion of the Gemara, which sings the praises of drinking wine responsibly. Included are a number of such statements – some of them based on biblical passages: Rabbi Hanina – Whoever becomes more open and comfortable with others after having a drink of wine, is walking in God's footsteps Rabbi Hiyya – anyone who drinks, but does not get drunk, has the wisdom of seventy sages. Rabbi Hanina bar Papa – You are not blessed unless wine flows in your house like water. The Gemara concludes with Rabbi Ilai's maxim: A man's character can be recognized by his behavior regarding three things – B'koso - his drinking, does he drink responsibly? B'kiso - his spending, when he has money, does he apportion it correctly? B'ka'aso - his anger, can he control himself, even when angry?
Eiruvin 64a-b: Passing Judgment on Halakhic Rulings
12/10/2020 - 24th of Tishrei, 5781
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With regard to the question of how to establish an eiruv for a courtyard where a non-Jew lives (one who is not interested in cooperating by leasing his part of the courtyard to the Jewish residents), Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel suggests that, if necessary, a legal fiction can be created. One of the Jews can ask his permission to use the courtyard for some other purpose – storage, for example – and then can act as an agent for the non-Jew to establish the eiruv. Upon hearing this suggestion, Rav Nahman commented that it was an excellent halakhic statement. The Gemara quotes another unrelated statement of Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel, which says that someone who drinks a revi'it of wine should not rule on issues of halakha, until he has recovered from its intoxicating effects. Upon hearing this, Rav Nahman commented that it was a poor halakhic statement. Rav Nahman claimed that his personal experience was that until he drank a revi'it of wine he was not able to think clearly. Upon hearing Rav Nahman’s reactions to the statements of Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel, Rava pointed out the homiletic teaching based on the passage in Mishlei (29:3) – “He who loves wisdom gladdens his father, but he who keeps company with prostitutes (zonot) wastes his fortune” – that someone who says “this teaching is pleasant [zo na’a], but this is not pleasant,” will lose the fortune of Torah. Rav Nahman accepts Rava’s rebuke and commits to refrain from passing such judgment on the future. Rashi in Mishlei explains the homiletic teaching as being based on the fact that this is the only time in Tanakh that the word “Zonot” is written with full vowels. Thus the interpretation is to break the word in half – zo na’ot – “this is pleasant.” Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what appears attractive to one person is seen otherwise by another, with regard to halakhot it is inappropriate to say that one statement is beautiful and another is not. The Meiri explains that even as choices need to be made in order to establish the halakha, it is inappropriate to state that one position is unpleasant; rather we accept one and reject the other based on objective criteria.
Eiruvin 63a-b: Showing Respect for a Teacher in His Presence
11/10/2020 - 23th of Tishrei, 5781
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On the previous daf the Gemara set down a rule that we always follow the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov. This rule leads to a discussion that focuses on whether a student is permitted to make a decision that follows Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov without deferring to his teacher. Generally speaking, a student was not permitted to issue rulings on issues of halakha in the presence – or place – of his teacher, a tradition that stemmed from a concern for the teacher’s honor. Some argue that ruling in the place of one’s teacher is tantamount to a rebellion again the king – mored be-malkhut – which would mean that even were the student to receive permission, it would be forbidden for him to rule. An example of a tradition that exemplifies this concern is that the shohet, the ritual slaughterer, would give his knife to the Rabbi of the community to check, even if he himself was a learned and knowledgeable person. The Gemara tells of a group of Rabbis in Rav Aha bar Ya’akov’s city who, while preparing a calf for slaughter, argued among themselves whether it was necessary to show the knife to Rav Aha bar Ya’akov.
Rav Abba bar Tahalifa said to them: Should we not be concerned with the respect of the Elder, Rav Aha bar Ya’akov, and present the knife to him for inspection, as this is his town? Rabbi Elazar from Hagronya said to them: That is unnecessary, since Rava said as follows: A Torah scholar may examine a knife for himself. Rabbi Elazar from Hagronya then inspected the knife, but he was later punished at the hand of Heaven for disregarding the honor of the senior rabbi. The Gemara expresses surprise: What was Rabbi Elazar from Hagronya’s mistake? Didn’t Rava say: A Torah scholar may examine a slaughtering knife for himself? The Gemara answers: It was different there, as they had already begun to discuss the issue of the honor of Rav Aha bar Ya’akov. Had the name of Rav Aha bar Ya’akov never arisen, they would have been permitted to examine the knife themselves. Once his name had been mentioned, however, they should have approached him with the knife. Their failure to do so is considered a display of disrespect. And if you wish, say instead: Rav Aha bar Ya’akov is different, as he was illustrious in age and wisdom, and thus deserved more honor than a regular Sage.
Rav Aha bar Yaakov was a second generation Babylonian amora who lived long enough to interact with Abaye and Rava, who were fourth century amoraim. He was well known for his piety and for miracles that took place on his behalf. His students included Rav Papa and his nephew Rav Aha the son of Rav Ika.
Eiruvin 62a-b: Establishing an Eiruv in a Courtyard
10/10/2020 - 22th of Tishrei, 5781
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The sixth chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin returns to the discussion of eiruvei hatzeirot – the laws that regulate how to arrange to permit residents of a courtyard to carry within it. In particular, this chapter focuses on the residents themselves. All of the residents need to participate in the eiruv, but if one of them did not participate, even on Shabbat he can rectify the matter by ceding his ownership to another resident who did participate. One of the central questions dealt with is who is considered a resident of the courtyard for the purpose of creating the eiruv, and what needs to be done if someone does not want to participate. The Mishna (61b) brings a disagreement between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov. Both agree that a non-Jew who lives in the courtyard will need to actually lease his part of the courtyard to the others in order to allow them to establish an eiruv. Rabbi Meir feels that this is necessary, even if there is only one Jew living in the courtyard; Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov deems this necessary only if there are two or more Jewish residents. This disagreement does not really stem from the rules of eiruv. They both agree, in principle, that the non-Jew’s presence in the courtyard does not require his participation in the eiruv. Rather, this is a Rabbinic decree whose purpose is to discourage Jews from taking up residence in a courtyard with non-Jews. Rabbi Meir believes that this decree always applies, but Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov points to the fact that it would be unusual for a Jew to live alone with non-Jews in their courtyard, due to his fear of the non-Jews. Therefore there was no need to establish a Rabbinic decree for such an unusual situation. The Gemara lists several amoraim who rule like Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov, culminating in Abayye’s statement to Rav Yosef that the tradition is that the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov are kav v’naki – short, but clear and perfect – so we follow them in every area of halakha. The principle that the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov are kav v’naki appears several times in the Gemara. There is some discussion about how broad a ruling it is. Does it apply only to his teachings that appear in the Mishna, or in baraitot, as well? Is it only true against one adversary, or even against a group? The conclusion seems to be that we will always follow the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov. Tradition has it that his teachings appear 102 times in the Talmud – matching the Gematria of the word “Kav,” and that his opinion is accepted in every one of those cases.
Eiruvin 61a-b: Placing an Eiruv in a Neighboring City
09/10/2020 - 21th of Tishrei, 5781
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Although we have been discussing the limitation of travel beyond 2,000 amot throughout Massekhet Eiruvin, that applies only outside the city limits. If one resides in a large city, the entire city is considered to have the status of daled amot – four cubits – and one can walk wherever he wants in it. This is also true if two cities are within 2,000 amot of one another. In such a case, were one to place his eiruv in the neighboring city, he would be permitted to walk anywhere in that city – even if it is well beyond the normal 2,000 ama limit. The Mishna also brings the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, who argues that movement within the larger city for people who are coming from a neighboring city would be limited to 2,000 amot from their eiruv, even within the precincts of the city. Rabbi Akiva’s opinion is not accepted as the halakha. To illustrate this, the Gemara tells of people who were arranging their eiruv in a neighboring city so that they would be able to travel there on Shabbat.
The Gemara relates that Mar Yehuda once found the residents of Mavrakhta placing their eiruvin in the synagogue of Beit Agovar. He said to them: Place your eiruv farther into the synagogue, so that more will be permitted to you, as the Shabbat limit is measured from the spot where the eiruv is deposited. Mar Yehuda holds that even when an eiruv is placed in an inhabited city, the two thousand cubits are measured from the location of the eiruv rather than from the edge of the city. Rava said to him: Argumentative one [palga'ah]! With regard to the halakhot of eiruv, nobody is concerned about this opinion of Rabbi Akiva, as the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis. Consequently, no matter where one places his eiruv in a city, the entire city is considered as though it were four cubits, and he is permitted to walk two thousand cubits beyond the edge of the city.
The Aruk defines palga’ah as someone always looking for a fight who took up positions that were not generally accepted. Rashi explains the term to mean that he was known to argue with the Sages, who, in this case, had already ruled that the halakha follows the lenient position. The example of a large city that appears in the Gemara is Antioch, about which the baraita teaches that someone who establishes his Shabbat there can walk its full length and breadth, its size notwithstanding. Antioch in Northern Syria was one of the largest cities in the world during the ancient period. Since it was built over a period of time – and, at its peak, was actually composed of four separate, joined cities – it was not well planned, part of the reason that it covered such a large area. During the Talmudic period, about 600,000 people lived there.
Eiruvin 60a-b: Eiruvim on a Straight Line and at an Angle
08/10/2020 - 20th of Tishrei, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf teaches: One who was to the east of his home when Shabbat began, and he had said to his son before Shabbat: Establish an eiruv for me to the west; or if he was to the west of his home and he had said to his son: Establish an eiruv for me to the east, the halakha is as follows: If there is a distance of two thousand cubits from his current location to his house, and the distance to his eiruv is greater than this, he is permitted to walk to his house, and from there he may walk two thousand cubits in every direction, but it is prohibited for him to walk to the spot where his son had deposited his eiruv.
So if he is within 2,000 amot of his house, but the eiruv is further away than 2,000 amot, he can go to his house, but not to his eiruv. Similarly, if he is within 2,000 amot of his eiruv, but his house is further away than 2,000 amot, he can go to his eiruv, but not to his house. The Gemara opens with the assumption that the man, his house and his eiruv are in a straight line, creating the situation where the man can walk to his house, but cannot continue past his house to the eiruv. In effect, since he is not within 2,000 amot of the eiruv that was established on his behalf, the eiruv cannot take effect at all. He is, therefore, limited to the 2,000-ama radius around him. Since his house is within that radius, he can go there – but no further. The difficulty with this interpretation of the Mishna is that the second case is hard to understand. If the man, his house and his eiruv are on a straight line, how can he possibly be closer to his eiruv than to his house? Rava bar Rav Sheila suggests a different way to understand this case: If the man is to the east of his house and the eiruv is placed to the west of the house, but rather than being on a straight line, they are at an angle from one another, we can have a situation where the man is actually closer to his eiruv than to his house. In such a case the eiruv will take effect and the individual will be able to walk to his eiruv, and, indeed, 2,000 amot beyond his eiruv, as well.
Eiruvin 59a-b: Eiruv Status of a Public City vs. a Private City
07/10/2020 - 19th of Tishrei, 5781
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The Mishna on today’s daf returns us to the question of eiruvei hatzeirot and teaches that a city which once belonged to an individual but became a public city can still have a single eiruv to permit carrying in the city, as it is still perceived as a single hatzer (courtyard). If, on the other hand, a city that once was public became a private city, a single eiruv cannot be made unless an area is left outside the eiruv, so that the rules of eiruv will not be forgotten. There are a number of explanations of what constitutes a private city. According to Rashi, it means that there are not 600,000 residents, so it is not a reshut ha-rabim, a public domain. (According to Rashi, in order to be considered a reshut ha-rabim the city needs to be similar in number to the encampment of the Israelites in the desert.) The Mishna teaches that even when the number of residents reaches 600,000, the original eiruv will still be valid. The Rashba and Ritva understand that the city was actually owned by a single individual who leased space to others. Even if it is sold later on to a number of people, its original status as a private city gives it a unique status. The discussion of eiruv hatzeirot in our Mishna appears to be out of place in our chapter, whose focus is eiruvei tehumim. This halakha really belongs in one of the earlier chapters of Massekhet Eiruvin. One suggestion is that this is a segue from the previous Mishna (58b), which taught that we can trust the memory of local people – even a slave or maid-servant – to testify how far the tehum Shabbat was outside the city. In our case, as well, the power of memory plays a role in establishing the city as either public or private, and that memory carries weight in halakha, even if the situation has changed.
Eiruvin 58a-b: Measuring With a Coconut Plant
06/10/2020 - 18th of Tishrei, 5781
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In the course of study of Massekhet Eiruvin, the Mishna and Gemara have continuously referred to measurements of 2,000 amot out of the city. How were those measurements done? The Mishna (57b-58a) teaches that measurements were taken with ropes of 50 amot, which allowed for accurate measuring over most obstacles. The Gemara on our daf suggests that the passage (Shmot 27:18) describing the length and width of the Mishkan is the source for this idea.
Rabbi Asi said: One may measure only with a rope of afsakima. The Gemara asks: What is afsakima? Rabbi Abba said: It is the nargila plant. This name was also not widely known, and therefore the Gemara asks: What is nargila? Rabbi Ya'akov said: A palm tree that has only one fibrous vine wrapped around it. Some say a different version of the previous discussion, according to which the Gemara asked: What is afsakima? Rabbi Abba said: It is the nargila plant. Rabbi Ya'akov disagreed and said: It is a palm tree with one fibrous vine.
The palm that is referred to is, apparently, the Cocos nucifera, or coconut palm. This tree grows to a height of 30 meters and bears coconuts that can be as large as 20 centimeters in diameter. It is a tree that has been grown since ancient times. In the places where it grows – tropical areas in Asia, as well as islands in the Pacific Ocean – the coconut palm is used for a wide variety of things, including food and drink, cloth, firewood and building. The ropes under discussion in the Gemara are one of a number of ropes that are produced from fibers of the coconut palm. The best ropes are made from the shell of the coconut that is covered with a fibrous layer, from which ropes are braided. These ropes are considered unique in their ability to retain their strength and size, even when they become wet, as they neither stretch nor shrink. This quality is obviously essential for taking proper measurements, and it may explain the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananya in the baraita who says that the ideal measuring instrument would have been iron chains, were it not for the passage (Zechariah 2:5) “…and in his hand was a measuring rope,” which he understands to limit biblical measuring to ropes, rather than other instruments.
Eiruvin 57a-b: Joining Neighboring Cities
05/10/2020 - 17th of Tishrei, 5781
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Aside from drawing lines around the city that will be the basis for the 2,000 ama boundary for tehum, the Mishna on our daf presents the position of Rabbi Meir who believes that a karpaf (an additional enclosure outside the city) of about 70 amot should be drawn around the city, and measuring the 2,000 amot should begin from there. The Hakhamim disagree, ruling that such a karpaf would only play a role if two cities are close enough that an additional area such as that could connect them, making them one city. Rava in the Gemara explains that the source for the idea of adding an area outside the city that is considered part of the city for the purposes of tehum is the passage (Bamidbar 35:4-5) that discusses how the cities of the Levites were to be set up upon entering the Land of Israel. The passage instructs "from the wall of the city and outwards…and you should measure outside the city, to the east 2,000 amot…" From this we see that before the measurements begin, an area is added "outwards" beyond the walls of the city. Although the amount that is to be added does not appear in the Torah, the Ra'avad explains that the Gemara assumes that we will add the area of a normal courtyard – that is, the hatzer (courtyard) of the Mishkan. The Ritva understands that the Hakhamim in the Mishna reject Rabbi Meir's interpretation of the passage entirely. They do not believe that anything can be learned from the Levite cities for our purposes. When they allow two cities that are nearby one-another to be considered joined for the purpose of tehum, it is based simply on the closeness of the cities, not on the passage in Bamidbar. The Jerusalem Talmud, however, understands the disagreement between Rabbi Meir and the Hakhamim to be based on that biblical passage. According to Rabbi Meir, we learn from it that every city has an invisible addition around it. In arguing with him, the Hakhamim read the passage "from the wall of the city and outwards…" to mean that we measure from the wall of the city in normal cases. In a case where two cities are neighboring one-another, then we look "outwards" as well, by adding the additional karpafs to them.
Eiruvin 56a-b: Measuring the Shabbat Limit Using the Sun and Stars
04/10/2020 - 16th of Tishrei, 5781
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With regard to the measurements of a city's boundaries, the Sages taught the following baraita: If, in order to measure the Shabbat limit, one comes to square a city, i.e., to extend the city's boundaries to include all of its protrusions within an imaginary square, he squares it so that the sides of the square align with the four directions of the world. He sets the northern side of the square to align with the north of the world, and its southern side to align with the south of the world. And your sign by which you can recognize the directions of the world is as follows: The constellation of Ursa Major is in the north and Scorpio is in the south. The directions of the city are determined by these constellations.
The Great Bear (Ursa major) – referred to by the Gemara as agala, "wagon" - will always be seen in the north. In the south, the Gemara appears to referring to the constellation Scorpius. While the northern constellations are constant and will always be visible in the Northern Hemisphere, Scorpius can only be seen during the summer months, and it does not always appear due south. It is likely that for this reason the Gemara gives other suggestions for establishing the directions. Rabbi Yose suggests that the directions can be ascertained based on the rising and setting of the sun. His suggestion is based on the fact that the earth spins at an angle as it rotates around the sun. Therefore, the seasons are not equal to one another in the length of days and nights, or where the sun will rise and set. The dates mentioned by the Gemara are as follows:
  • September 23 - Sunrise, due East; Sunset, due West
  • December 22 (shortest day) - Sunrise, 27" 55' Southeast; Sunset, 27" 55' Southwest
  • March 21 - Sunrise, due East; Sunset, due West
  • June 22 (longest day) - Sunrise, 27" 55' Northeast; Sunset, 27" 55' Northwest
Rav Yose's suggestion is to follow the sun on the equinox (September 23 and March 21) to learn the directions of east and west and on the solstice (December 22 and June 22) to learn the directions of north and south. The Jerusalem Talmud also suggests making use of the rising and setting sun, but suggests a much simpler approach. If you track sunrise from the shortest day of the year to the longest day of the year, the place between those two angles is East. Similarly the place between the setting of the sun in summer and winter is West. Rav Mesharshiya objects to the principles laid out in the baraita. The Meiri explains that Rav Mesharshiya recognized that the sun never rises or sets at a precise north-east or south-west angle. Shmuel presents his understanding of the seasons, based on a perfect 365.25 solar year. A more precise approach to this matter is that of Rav Adda, who believed that the solar year is slightly shorter than that.
Eiruvin 55a-b: Establishing Boundaries for Differently Shaped Cities
03/10/2020 - 15th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On this daf the Gemara examines how lines are to be drawn around different types of cities in order to establish their boundaries. A Tosefta is quoted that presents several cases.
  1. A round city gets a square drawn around the circle
  2. A city that is wider on one side than the other will be "boxed off" - the two sides are considered of equal length, adding to the narrow side to form a square
  3. If there are dwelling places at the edge of the city, the lines will be drawn so that those houses are included
  4. If the city is shaped like a bow or like the Greek letter Gamma, we view the empty space as though it were filled with houses.
Regarding the last case, Rav Huna comments that the ruling will be different if the empty area between the two ends of the city is larger than 4,000 amot. If there are less than four thousand cubits between the two ends of the bow, so that the Shabbat limits measured from the two ends of the city overlap, the interior space of the bow is regarded as if it were filled with houses, and one measures the Shabbat limit of the city from the imaginary bowstring stretched between the two ends of the bow. But if that is not the case, and the distance between the two ends of the bow is four thousand cubits or more, one measures the Shabbat limit from the bow itself.
The question raised by the rishonim about Rav Huna's ruling is that we learned in the Mishna that dwelling places extending beyond the normal city lines will cause the tehum (=boundary) to be extended, so that they should be included. Shouldn't that rule apply to the case of the bow-shaped city, as well? The Ra'avad accepts this argument and rules that even in the case of the Mishna we will not extend the boundaries of the city if the dwelling places beyond the city are not within 4,000 amot of one-another. The Rashba explains that the extra dwelling places will naturally be spread out throughout the city and its environs, while the city shaped like a bow, will, by definition, continue to develop in that shape and direction.
Eiruvin 54a-b: Learning a Lesson From Travels in the Wilderness
02/10/2020 - 14th of Tishrei, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
A fairly common occurrence in the Babylonian Talmud is a segue from the discussion of halakha to aggada. This daf in its entirety, is made up of a collection of homilies based on passages in Tanakh. As an example, the Gemara brings Rav Mattana's drasha (=exposition) on the passage (Bamidbar 21:18) U'mi-midbar Mattana – describing the Jewish People's travels through the desert to a place called Mattana on their way to the Land of Canaan. Rav Mattana explains this to mean that if a person behaves in a humble manner, that he allows himself to be like a wilderness which is open for all to walk through, he will be rewarded with success in his studies. To illustrate this homily further, the Gemara tells the story of Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama who was estranged from his friend and teacher, Rav Yosef. The day before Yom Kippur he went to Rav Yosef to try and come to some reconciliation. As he arrived, he found Rav Yosef's servant preparing a drink for his master, and Rava offered to prepare the drink in his stead and bring it to Rav Yosef. Rav Yosef – who was blind – tasted the drink and immediately commented that it was diluted more than usual, just like Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama used to prepare it. This allowed Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama to introduce himself. Rav Yosef asked him to interpret the passage in Bamidbar (21:18) that listed the stops of the Children of Israel on their way to Israel. Based on word-play, making use of the root of each place-name, Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama presented the following explanation:
Rava said to him: If a person makes himself humble like this wilderness, which is open to all and upon which everyone treads, the Torah will be given to him as a gift [mattana]. And once it is given to him as a gift, he inherits it [nehalo] and God [El] makes it His inheritance, as it is stated: "And from Mattanah to Nahaliel." And once God has made it His inheritance, he rises to greatness, as it is stated: "And from Nahaliel to Bamoth," which means heights. And if he becomes haughty, the Holy One, Blessed be He, lowers him, as it is stated: "And from Bamoth to the valley." And if he repents, the Holy One, Blessed be He, raises him back up, as it is stated: "Every valley shall be exalted" (Isaiah 40:4).
In effect, Rav Yosef's request to interpret the passage offered an opening for Rava the son of Rav Yosef bar Hama to apologize. The disagreement that led to their estrangement is described in the Gemara Nedarim 55a, when Rava sent a question to Rav Yosef. Unhappy with the answer that he received in response, he said that it was useless to him, as the original question still remained. Rav Yosef took offense, saying "if you don't need me, don't send me any more questions." From the apology that appears in our Gemara, clearly Rava came to recognize the folly of his arrogant behavior.
Eiruvin 53a-b: The Difference Between an Alef and an Ayin
01/10/2020 - 13th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The fifth chapter of Massekhet Eiruvin continues the discussion of eiruvei tehumim. The focus of this chapter is how we establish the boundaries of the city in order to measure the 2000 ama tehum that surrounds it. The first Mishna asks Kaitzad Me'abberin et He-Arim – "How does one extend the boundaries of cities in order to ensure that all its protrusions are included within the borders of the city?" The Gemara explains that we draw straight lines running along the furthest-most dwelling-place on each side of the city, creating a rectangle around it. From here we will draw lines of 2000 amot from the city in each direction. The interest of the Gemara focuses on the precise tradition of the language of the Mishna. Specifically, the Gemara tries to clarify whether the word me'abberin is written with the letter ayin or the letter alef.
The Gemara explains: The one who taught me'abberin with an alef explained the term in the sense of limb [ever] by limb. Determination of the city's borders involves the addition of limbs to the core section of the city. And the one who taught me'abberin with an ayin explained the term in the sense of a pregnant woman [ubbera] whose belly protrudes. In similar fashion, all the city's protrusions are incorporated in its Shabbat limit.
With an alef, the source of the word me'abberin would be ever – limb - like the limbs of a person that stretch beyond his body. According to the Aruk, we are similarly trying to add parts of the city that protrude beyond its center. With an ayin the Me'iri explains that, as a pregnant woman who has in her womb a fetus that is an addition to her, we are similarly adding to the city beyond its established borders. Establishing this tradition is so important to the Gemara, that Rabbi Yohanan is quoted as saying that he spent 18 days of growth studying with the great Rabbi Oshaya and he learned only one thing (or, perhaps, one thing in our Mishna) – that me'abberin was written with an alef. The great Rabbi Oshaya is referred to in the Jerusalem Talmud as Rabbi Hoshaya Rabba, one of the most important sages of the period between the tannaim and amoraim. His major work was in the area of collecting the words of the tannaim in as faithful a fashion as possible, leading to the tradition that the only baraitot that could be relied upon were the ones that had been taught in the Bet Midrash of Rabbi Hoshaya and Rabbi Hiyya. Rabbi Oshaya had many students, but the greatest of them was Rabbi Yohanan, who studied with him for many years. The comment in the Gemara that has Rabbi Yohanan studying with Rabbi Oshaya for 18 days must be referring to a very early stage in his career.
Eiruvin 52a-b: Establishing an Eiruv Between Two Cities
30/09/2020 - 12th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf brings the case of two cities that were close enough to one another that someone could establish an eiruv and walk from one to the other. According to Rabbi Yehuda, a person who was heading from one city to the other on Friday afternoon – even if he was called back by his friend and did not reach it – can walk there on Shabbat, as he has established his eiruv by walking. Nevertheless, other people in the city would not be allowed to walk there. Rabbi Meir rules that since he did not clearly state his intention to establish an eiruv in that place, he falls into the proverbial "donkey-camel driver" situation (see 35a-b) and is limited in both directions. According to Maimonides, the explanation for this case is that the person was sent by the community to be their representative in establishing an eiruv so that they would be able to walk to their neighboring city. Instead of placing food to create the eiruv, he simply walked to the edge of the tehum . Such an eiruv works for him, but the community cannot rely on their messenger's physical presence to create an eiruv for them. The Jerusalem Talmud has two explanations for this Mishna, both of which suggest that the person involved was sent as a representative of the community to establish an eiruv between the two cities, and it is his friend who called him back who has a different status than the rest of the city's inhabitants. According to the first explanation, the messenger successful established the eiruv for the entire city – except for the individual who called him back. So his friend can continue to walk the normal 2,000 amot around the city, while the rest of the city can walk one way only – towards the neighboring city. The second explanation understands the case to be when the messenger did not succeed in establishing the eiruv for anyone. The city's inhabitants cannot walk to the next city, but the friend who was with him succeeded in establishing an eiruv for himself by virtue of his presence, so he is allowed to walk to the next city.
Eiruvin 51a-b: Poor and Rich for the Purposes of Establishing an Eiruv
29/09/2020 - 11th of Tishrei, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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
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 (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
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
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
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
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.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
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
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
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
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 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.”