Eruvin 21: The Talmid Chochom
The Chazon Ish explains how we define a talmid chochom.
“If we wonder who qualifies as a talmid chochom and what is expected of him, we can look to the words of the Rama. He says that a talmid chochom is one who knows enough to hold a clear discussion in Torah. He must have broad and comprehensive knowledge of the Gemara, its commentaries and thedecisions of its ga’onim.
“We see that a talmid chochom is someone who is a master of halacha,who understands its dialectic, in accordance with how it has been handed down to us from generation to generation. He also must have learned most of the Gemara. As long as one cannot hold a discussion in halacha in most places based on what the poskim say, he is not yet a talmid chochom. He must pay taxes just like one who is unlearned even if he spends every available moment learning Torah, as is clear from the Rama there.
“As we find in Eruvin 21, Hashem called Shlomo Hamelech wise specifically when he decreed eruvin and netilas yadayim. Shlomo was wise because he added these two complicated areas of halacha to the Torah” (Emunah Ubitachon,chapter III, 23).
Eruvin 22: “Today, To Do Them…”
Rav Nachman of Breslov once explained the greatness of Torah and mitzvos with a simple parable.
“You know, there are people who will subject themselves to the most difficult conditions just to earn some money. They will stay up all night and work themselves to exhaustion. And with all that, there is still no guarantee that they will succeed. Torah and mitzvos are a much more secure way to invest one’s time. Every effort that one invests in Torah study or prayer is eternal. And although one usually has to invest capital to attempt to earn money, spiritual endeavors require no investment whatever other than of yourself.”
Rav Yisroel of Modzhitz made a similar point. “A person who does business must often extend credit. And the same is true regarding spiritual pursuits. As we find in Eruvin 22: ‘Today we do them and tomorrow – in the next world – we receive the reward.’ But there is a fundamental difference between extending credit in material matters and in spiritual matters. In material matters, when one gives a customer credit, he must rely on his friend to repay him. Of course this is far from guaranteed, since a human being is very limited. He can suddenly leave the world or become poor. But Hashem is All-Powerful and will surely repay any credit we extend. It is well worth waiting for the reward!” (Sichos HaRan: Divrei Yisroel, Parshas Ha’azinu).
Eruvin 23: The Courtyard of the Mishkan
In Eruvin, we find a description of a domain that may be private property, comprising four full mechitzos, in which it is still forbidden to carry. If a place is not lived in and is two se’ah or larger, an eruv often does not help.
The Chazon Ish explains that, practically speaking, two se’ah is around thirty-nine meters by thirty-nine meters. According to Rav Chaim Naeh, the measurement is approximately a quarter less. Rashi gives a clear reason for this rabbinic stringency: “Since this space is so large and it is not used to live in, it resembles a public domain. If we were to allow an eruv in this space, it would be easily confused with a bona fide public domain. They therefore decreed that an eruv would not allow carrying in such a space.
The Levush points out that they chose specifically this measurement, since it was the size of the chotzer surrounding the Mishkan, including its outer courtyard. Since the chotzer of the Mishkan was this size and was not surrounded by a fence for the purpose of dwelling there, Chazal decreed that up to this size a space remains a reshus hayochid even though it was not fenced in for residential purposes.
The Baal Hatanya explains that our sages purposely used the measurement of the courtyard of the Mishkan here, since we learn all the melachos of Shabbos and their halachos from the Mishkan” (Chazon Ish quoted in Shoneh Halachos, 358:2; Kuntres Hashiurim; Rashi in Eruvin 67b; Levush and Shulchan Aruch Harav towards beginning of siman 358).
Eruvin 24: The Eiruv on the Base
In Eretz Yisrael, there are often interesting questions presented by the many soldiers who observe mitzvos. Questions fielded by Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach eventually filled an entire booklet of intriguing cases called “Tzava Kehilchasah.” The Steipler Gaon received an interesting question about an army base in Eretz Yisroel. The base was dominated by an airstrip. The strip was obviously unsuitable for living, so perhaps it is forbidden to carry on this base even if there is a kosher eruv of the highest caliber.
The Steipler replied that an eiruv would certainly allow carrying on this base. “The Gemara forbids a garden or the like, which is not a dwelling place at all. This is also the p’sak of the Shulchan Aruch. Only a garden is forbidden. We need not make new decrees for which there is no source. Since the base is walled in and people can dwell there, the eruv is effective for the base.”
Rav Horowitz adds there: “It seems clear that when he wrote only a garden and the like, he doesn’t mean to exclude other things which are clearly discussed in the Gemara or the poskim. For example, in Eruvin 24 we find that a pool of undrinkable water that is ten tefochim deep has the same halacha as a garden. If such a water source is large enough, it will nullify one’s ability to use an eruv even on the rest of the property. But the airstrip is not included in this. Although people do not generally walk around there, it is considered a courtyard that is an addenda to where people live and does not disqualify the camp from using an eruv” (Orchos Rabbeinu, Part I, p. 171).
Eruvin 25: Gentle Rebuke
The Shelah Hakadosh offers an enlightening explanation of an apparently insulting comment found in the Gemara.
“Know that I have always worked hard to explain how apparently insulting remarks made in the Gemara are really meant to impart a positive message and are not as negative as they appear. For example, in Eruvin 25, Rav Papi prefaces his reply to Rav Bibi, saying, ‘Because you come from a family that is cut off, is it appropriate for you to say words that are cut because they have no basis?’ Rashi explains that Rav Bibi was from the family of Eli, who would die young. On the surface, it would seem that this is a very degrading way to respond to Rav Bibi. But the truth is that he meant to encourage Rav Bibi. As we find in Maseches Rosh Hashanah, although those born of the house of Eli often die young, if a descendant of Eli learns assiduously and does chessed,he will live a normal life.
“This is what Rav Papi meant to remind Rav Bibi. He was saying, ‘Since Hashem put you in the family you are in, you must be very vigilant to learn with intensity. Your mistaken reasoning should serve as a wakeup call to start learning as is fitting.’ Of course, Rav Bibi was not insulted by this remark, which was not delivered in a derogatory tone or superior manner. He surely took the message to heart. He surely related to this as a thinking person would to a gentle rebuke made by his caring doctor on how to change his lifestyle to overcome a health problem” (Shelah Hakadosh, Torah Shebaal Peh, #85).
Eruvin 26: The Big City
On this daf, we find a dispute regarding what constitutes a medium-sized city.
The Chofetz Chaim points out a fascinating advantage that a small city has over a larger one.
One year, when he sent a close student as a shliach to perform a mitzvah, the Chofetz Chaim said, “Take a Yom Kippur machzor with you. Although it is possible that you will return before Yom Kippur, you may be delayed and fail to return on time. If you find yourself with the choice of either spending the holy day in Lida or continuing on your way to Radin, getting off the train in the town of Beston, which is fourteen kilometers from Radin, and spending the day with the few Jews in their small shul, I suggest that you daven in Beston. If the people are about equal in righteousness, a smaller place has a better chance of being judged favorably during the Yomim Noraim than a large place.”
He mentioned another advantage as well: “The mainstay of evil is most often in the big city. The bigger the city, the more the yeitzer hara works to corrupt it. Often, one finds that in a small town, it is easier to keep Torah properly than in the big city. People in small towns have an easier time protecting themselves and their families from going after the enticements of materialism than in bigger cities” (Chashukei Chemed, Eruvin, p. 226-227).
Eruvin 27: The Shepherd of Yisroel and the One Who Spoke
It is certainly interesting that the verse juxtaposes belief in Moshe immediately after belief in Hashem. As we say every day immediately before Az Yoshir, “Vaya’aminu baHashem uveMoshe avdo.” There is a striking Medrash on this verse. “If they believed in Moshe. isn’t it obvious that they believed in Hashem? We must wonder why the verse says ‘and in Moshe.’ This teaches that anyone who believes in the shepherd of Yisroel believes in the One who spoke and the world came into being.”
The Chidah brings an interesting explanation of this. “The Mahari of Vilna explains this in light of the Tosafos in Eruvin 27b. It emerges from his words that the letter vais of uveMoshe is extra to teach something. It follows that here as well, the Medrash learned this lesson from the extra vais before the word Moshe – that a connection to a tzaddik is essential for the development true emunah in Hashem” (Yalkut Shimoni, Beshalach; Pnei Dovid, Beshalach).