Eruvin 35: By Hand or by Machine?
It is very reasonable to make an eruv with matzos. They last a long time without spoiling, unlike other breads, which must be replaced fairly frequently. An additional advantage of matzoh is that one doesn’t need to make sure the bread is eaten or disposed of before Pesach. On the contrary, matzoh generates a working eruv even on Pesach.
Initially, Rav Nissim Karelitz used machine matzos to make his eruv. After all, most who are careful to use only hand matzos do this because this was always the custom and they do not wish to deviate from it. For this reason, the Chofetz Chaim avoided mentioning machine matzoh in his Mishnah Berurah.
But then Rav Karelitz heard that some chassidim hold like the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, who actually declared that the machine matzos of his time were chometz. These chassidim do not use machine matzoh, even maintaining that it is forbidden to use such matzoh on Pesach. They reason that one small malfunction in the machine could result in the manufacture of chometz, chas veshalom. Since we find on Eruvin 35 that an eruv that is not edible, even if it is forbidden to eat like terumah which became defiled, may not be used, using machine matzoh for an eruv with these chassidim is problematic. Eventually, Rav Karelitz stopped using machine matzoh for the general eruv on Pesach for this reason.
Rav Yisroel Yaakov Fischer zt”l had a completely opposite view of machine matzos. Those who attended his Shabbos Hagadol drashah in Zichron Moshe remember his yearly admonition: “Rabbosai, we all know that hand matzoh is much more likely to be chometz than machine matzos. Since the overwhelming majority of poskim rule that when a person turns on these machines it is considered lishmah and can be used on the leil haSeder, I urge those who use hand matzoh to reconsider and procure machine matzoh for the chag. It is not too late! Dispose of your questionable hand matzoh to avoid the possibility of eating chometz on Pesach, chas veshalom!” (Otzar Ha’eruv, p. 282;Ro’eh Yisroel).
Eruvin 36: Our Relationship with Hashem
The Vayaged Yaakov explained that a friend is sometimes better than a teacher or parent.
“We find that pesukim provide many parables for our relationship with Hashem. Sometimes He is called our Father, while at other times He is referred to as our Friend and Brother.
“The reason for this is encapsulated in the words of our sages in Eruvin 36. There we find: ‘Sometimes it is more comfortable for one with his chavrei than with his teacher.’ Although there chavrei means that one might well prefer to meet and learn from his teacher’s friend, the simple meaning of this statement is also true: one’s friend can sometimes help someone more than his teacher. One reason for this is that one could have an embarrassing secret on his chest which he must share with someone. He needs encouragement and advice but cannot bring himself to confide in his teacher. He can, however, pour out his heart to a close friend.
“We must realize that our relationship with Hashem should contain both elements. He is our Father, but He should also be our Friend. As Rashi explains in Tehillim 143, Dovid Hamelech said to Hashem, ‘I hide my secrets from everyone but You’” (Vayaged Yaakov, Likkutim).
Eruvin 37: The Conditional Get
Divorce is never a pleasant matter. When a first marriage dissolves, our sages tell us that the mizbeiach sheds copious tears.
One couple was having a very difficult time in their marriage. The husband felt that he would probably have to divorce his wife, but could hardly contemplate actually doing it. He realized that it was possible that he wasn’t divorcing her because he was embarrassed. He therefore went to the person in the city who wrote divorces and asked that he write a get. “I am not sure whether I will use it,” he said, “but I doubt I will be able to make a clear decision if the document is not already written up. If after a few hours of careful deliberation I decide to divorce my wife, I will use this get. If not, I can always discard it.”
The sofer pointed out that this may well be forbidden. “There is a dispute about the issue of breirah when it comes to other matters. You can’t always just leave something open-ended and decide later that you want it to be as if it had gone into effect when it was done earlier. So how can I write you a get which you are unsure if you want to use?”
When this question reached the Oneg Yom Tov, he ruled leniently. “You definitely can write such a divorce; breirah has no relevance here. This is clear from Eruvin 37. There we find that one can place an eruv to extend his techum for the entire year and stipulate that if wishes, he will use it, and if not, not. Even the opinion that holds yesh breirah allows one to do this. He can change his mind as much as he wants on Erev Shabbos. Whatever he decided during bein hashemashos is his techum. The same holds true in this instance” (Shu”t Oneg Yom Tov,Even Ha’ezer, siman 166).
Eruvin 38: The Light of Shabbos
The Be’er Mayim Chaim explains the importance of the six days of the week in preparing for Shabbos.
“In Eruvin 38, we find that during the days of the week, one prepares for Shabbos. In Avodah Zara 3, they add, ‘One who prepared on Erev Shabbos will have food for Shabbos.’ One must work hard to purify himself during the week, doing his utmost to stay away from sin and doing good, each person according to his level. This person will receive the holiness of Shabbos and feel a supernal joy in Hashem during this special day. He will partake of oneg and be connected to the splendor of Hashem.
“But one who sins and descends spiritually will be tainted with the stigma of the impurity generated by his negative thoughts, speech and actions. The soiled garment of his sin will prevent him from receiving the light of Shabbos that he otherwise would have attained.”
The Rebbe of Kotzk made a similar statement: “People act improperly throughout the six days of the week. They get dressed in their Shabbos finery and think that they are mechutonim with the holy Shabbos? They don’t understand that the holiness of Shabbos that a person experiences is determined in direct accordance with the six days of the week.”
The Chiddushei Harim qualified this statement: “It is important to understand that every shomer Shabbos Jew, no matter what his level or actions, has a deep connection to the holy Shabbos. Although the Kotzkerapparently said otherwise, he was discussing the aspect of zachor, a towering spiritual illumination available only to those who work hard during the six weekdays. But every Jew has a connection to the aspect of shamor, the powerful spiritual level of one who keeps Shabbos properly. Our sages say that keeping Shabbos has the potential to wipe out the impurity of the avodah zara of the generation of Enosh!” (Be’er Mayim Chayim, Parshas Yisro).
Eruvin 39: The Right Start to the Year
On this daf, we find various halachos of Rosh Hashanah.
It was shortly after the Holocaust and the survivors were so broken. There was a hospital where girls who had survived were allowed to recover. They were completely devastated, still shocked from the horror they had endured.
As Rosh Hashanah approached, Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l, who was then teaching in Switzerland, realized that if he did not spend Yom Tov at the rather remote convalescent home, these girls would not hear teikas shofar. After enduring all that they had, anything that could possibly encourage them surely had to be done. How could he allow these poor souls to suffer further anguish of being unable to hear the shofar on this most holy day?
But staying at the hospital had a price. Rav Wolbe would not be able to daven with a minyan on Rosh Hashanah. Nevertheless, it was clear to him that imparting encouragement to the survivors took precedence.
He rushed through the hospital, going to room after room, floor after floor, sounding the shofar for young women who could hardly get out of bed. He later described that Yom Tov as follows: “I was rushing from room to room. I davened between sounding the shofar for group after group, but despite having no minyan, it was a very uplifting chag. The entire time I was thinking about the greatness of this holy day and that I was doing such important acts of chessed. I came up with one of my most intricate, inspiring shmuessen on that Rosh Hashanah!” (Avnei Shlomo).
Eruvin 40: The Sword and the Sefer
The Eretz Tzvi explained the importance of connecting deeply to what one learns and carrying it out.
“In Maseches Avodah Zara we find: ‘If a sword, not a sefer; if a sefer, not a sword.’ The Shem MiShmuel explains that a sword is used to sever the head from the body. This alludes to a person whose mind does not illuminate his heart. Even though his intellect knows something is improper, his heart is severed from his knowledge, and he still yearns for that which is improper. The way to overcome this is to learn Torah. Learning Torah has the potential to help one’s understanding reach his heart. This is the meaning of the Gemara above. If a sword, if one has a heart whose acts cut off from his brain, then not a sefer, he has not learned Torah properly. And the inverse is also true.
“I heard a similar statement from the Imrei Emes based on the Gemara in Eruvin 40. There we find that Rava bar Tachlifa felt that Ravina should make a special decree for people who were not bnei Torah. This doesn’t mean that they did not learn. They may well have learned. But they were not bnei Torah, children of Torah. The Torah was not like a father to them. They did not really feel connected to what they learned and were prone to permit what was forbidden without a special decree” (Eretz Tzvi, Parshas Shoftim, 5684, p. 211).
Eruvin 41: The Challenge of Poverty
Someone once went to the Chazon Ish with a question: “In Eruvin 41, we find that the state of poverty makes a person lose his da’as and da’as of Hashem. What does this discouraging statement teach us practically? That a poor person is destined to fall spiritually due to his difficult straits?”
The Chazon Ish replied with characteristic brilliance: “It is a warning of the natural consequence of being poor. One who learns that poverty is so dangerous for his spiritual wellbeing will focus all of his concentration on encouraging himself and building his connection to Hashem despite this disadvantage. He will realize that if he is not very vigilant, he will likely lose everything due to this challenge.”
Rav Gedaliyah of Linitz explained differently: “It says ma’aviro al da’as, literally ‘it passes him over an awareness.’ That means that being poor reminds a person to focus his attention on Hashem!” (Maaseh Ish, Part IV,p. 34l; Ma’amar Mordechai, Part II, p. 91).