Eruvin 42 – 48

Eruvin 42: Measured Steps

There was a bris slated to take place on Shabbos in Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah. One man who was close to the family wondered if he could walk from Bnei Brak to attend the bris. Since it was quite a distance, he was unsure if it was within the techum. He was not sure how to calibrate the techum, so he consulted with the Chazon Ish.

The Chazon Ish told the man to return the next day and asked Rav Bentzion Bamberger to calibrate if it was permitted to walk to this hospital on Shabbos.  Rav Bentzion asked Rav Yitzchok Halberstadt – who learned bechavrusah with the Chazon Ish – to accompany him.

Rav Halberstadt recounted, “We asked the Chazon Ish: ‘How are we were to calibrate the techum?’

“The Chazon Ish answered, ‘Measure the distance between your heels when you step and then calibrate the number of amos based on this.’

“We wondered, ‘Which amos should we use, the big shiur for amos or the smaller amos of Rav Chaim Na’eh?’

“The Chazon Ish responded, ‘You must be stringent and measure using the smaller amos, making up a shorter distance.’

“After much effort and several other questions, we presented precise measurements to the Chazon Ish recorded on a piece of paper. He was very pleased to see them, but then said to our surprise, ‘Although it seems as though this particular bris will not take place on Shabbos, I appreciate what you’ve done. I might need these measurements for similar questions that come up in the future!’” (Ma’aseh Ish, Part II, p. 110-111).

 

Eruvin 43: Rejoining Society

The Pnei Menachem offers an inspiring explanation of a statement on thisdaf.

“Nechemiah, the son of Rav Chanilai, was so absorbed in his learning that he strode right past the techum. Of course, one who has left his techum must remain in his four amos until Shabbos is over. In general, he may not reenter the techum. Rav Chisda told Rav Nachman about this, ‘Your talmid is pained.’

“Rav Nachman devised a practical solution that can also be relied upon if a person is forced by non-Jews to leave his techum: ‘Have people form lines from just within the techum until where he is standing so that he can reenter the techum.’

The Pnei Menachem commented, “Although this story appears to be only a matter of halachah, there is an essential lesson in avodah hidden within it. Nechemiah, the son of Rav Chanilai, was so immersed in his learning that he completely lost track of himself. Nevertheless, he left the techum – we can understand this to mean the boundary of what is proper – and was pained by this. One who left the techum of what is proper for whatever reason reenters by joining with those who are within the techum. They form a mechitzah, a barrier that protects him and enables him to act as is fitting” (Pnei Shabbos, Likkutim).

 

Eruvin 44: An Investment for Shabbos

In places without an eruv, or for those who do not use a particular eruv, life on Shabbos can be difficult. One older man who lived in a city without an eruv required a pair of glasses for regular use and another pair of reading glasses. Since he lived in a city without an eruv, he wondered how to get his glasses to shul. Was he required to purchase yet another pair of glasses and leave it in shul?

One rabbi suggested that he may be permitted to fashion a special belt that would use the thick glasses to fasten the belt. When he was in shul, he could then use the reading glasses and reattach them for his short walk home.

When Rav Abba Dunner was consulted regarding this question he was unsure, so he referred it to Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

“This is definitely forbidden,” Rav Elyashiv replied. “Although one may carry a key in this manner, that is only because a key is small. Since it is about the size of a regular fastener for a belt, it is not obvious that the key was put on the belt merely as a way to carry it. Glasses are different. Anyone looking for an instant at this belt will discern that it was used to fasten the belt merely to carry it in the public domain. If not, why would he use such a large item to fasten his belt?” (Vayishma Moshe, Part I, p. 142).

 

Eruvin 45: An Electronic Aid

The time proceeding birth is often frightening, especially for new parents. If a woman requires it, she can even summon a midwife on Shabbos to meet her for the birth, as we find on thisdaf.

One midwife had an interesting question. She lived in Ashdod but had clients from all over Israel. One woman who lived in Bnei Brak called her late on leil Shabbos. She explained that she had steady contractions and asked the midwife to meet her at the hospital. The midwife jumped into her car and drove to the birthing hospital. When the midwife arrived in the city, she realized that she did not know the quickest way to the facility. It was already three in the morning by then and there was no one to ask. She wondered if she could turn on her GPS and enter the address into the machine. After a moment’s hesitation, she did so and quickly arrived at the hospital. 

After the birth, she wondered if she had acted correctly. After all, entering an address into a GPS is clearly forbidden on Shabbos, and she would have eventually found the facility without using the GPS. Perhaps the separate melachah de’Oraisa had been forbidden in this instance.

When Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein referred this question to his illustrious father-in-law, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, he ruled that the midwife had acted correctly.

“Even if we were to say that it is a de’Oraisa to enter coordinates into one’s GPS, in such a situation it is permitted. Since it is permitted to do melachah to facilitate the midwife’s arrival at the place of the birth, she may program a GPS if it means she will get to the hospital faster” (Chashukei Chemed, Eruvin, p. 160).

 

Eruvin 46: A Novel Solution

Soldiers are often forced to go outside the techum. Although they drive or are passengers in a vehicle, one soldier wondered what to do about all his possessions.

“Since we learn that one’s possessions acquire the status of his techum, does that mean that I am not allowed to have any personal belongings that are not absolutely essential? For example, is it forbidden for me to have a sefer with me during wartime when I know I will be moving outside my techum on Shabbos?”

When this question was brought to Rav Moshe Feinstein, he offered a surprising solution to the problem.

“Chazal tell us on Eruvin 46 that the halachah follows the more lenient opinion regarding eruv. One example of this is regarding objects that are hefker. We hold that objects declared ownerless do not have a techum at all, so a soldier should declare all of his possessions ownerless before Shabbos. He should even write in his seforim, ‘This sefer is hefker for the use of any Jew who wishes at any time. I hereby request that anyone who picks up this sefer should intend not to acquire it” (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, Part V, # 203).

 

Eruvin 47: The Super-Vision of Rebbi Meir

One of the gedolei hador who lived during the time of the Maharil Diskin gave a very clear explanation of a puzzling rule recorded on this daf.

“It is surely striking that although the halachah does not follow Rebbi Meir in general because he is considered so sharp that we are unsure whether he meant what he said lehalachah, we do follow a number of his decrees without taking his especial sharpness into consideration.

“This paradoxical situation can be compared to a person who has supernormal vision and was with a group of scholars. When one scholar showed him an esrog that was definitely mehudar, he pronounced it invalid: ‘It is full of imperfections!’ he said.

“When the other scholars begged him to show even one imperfection, he placed the esrog under a microscope. Sure enough, the esrog was riddled with microscopic imperfections. Not surprisingly, they ruled that the esrog is kosher. ‘The Torah was not given to angels. Since these blemishes are not discernible to the naked eye of anyone who cannot see like a microscope, they do not invalidate the esrog.’

“They brought him the very best lulav that money can buy for inspection. Predictably, he again ruled that it was invalid. ‘The top is split!’ Again they overruled his decision, since the only way to discern the miniscule schism was with the aid of a microscope.

“The group set out together on a long journey, not without its dangers. When there was a choice between two ways to go down a mountain, the man with the super-vision insisted that they take one path over the other. ‘I see a group of people hiding near the road a long, long way off along that path. They are well-armed and are obviously waiting to ambush travelers to rob them of their money or worse.’

“Imagine one of the other members of the group refusing to avoid that path because he only believes what he sees: ‘Since the Torah was given to people with human vision, we obviously can disregard what you see there!’ The rest of the group will surely reject his proposal. ‘Fool! It is only regarding Torah that the rule is that one is only supposed to rely on human vision even if he knows that there is something microscopic there. But why would we be so clueless as to walk into danger we all know our esteemed colleague can see, even when we don’t?’

“The same is true regarding Rebbi Meir. When he said something that the other sages could not understand, they could not follow his opinion. After all, according to the Torah, we follow our human understanding, especially if Rebbi Meir might not have meant what he said. But Rebbi Meir issued a decree solely because he discerned a danger to the klal at some future time. Clearly, we cannot discount his vision just because we ourselves cannot yet see the problem!” (Hasaraf M’Brisk, p. 378).

 

Eruvin 48: Preparing for Tosafos

Many people have a hard time learning Tosafos. The language is terse and difficult to understand. Rav Nosson Lobert pointed out the importance of developing a broad base of Torah knowledge in order to fully appreciate Tosafos.

“First one should learn all of the Mishnayos in a particular masechta. That way he will have a clear understanding of all the concepts discussed in the masechta. Then he should learn the Gemara with Rashi. It is preferable to learn Tosafos only after learning the entire masechta with Rashi. In this manner, many of the questions dealt with by Tosafos either already came up or are easily grasped. In this manner, one will feel the sweetness and delightof Tosafos. The importance of acquiring a broad knowledge of Torah cannot be overestimated. After all, as we find on Eruvin 48, ‘one who is too medakdeik will not learn at all.’

“My grandfather, the Rebbe of Kotzk, would recommend that one first learn the sugya in its entirety. In this manner, many questions and difficulties will automatically be answered.”

In Slabodka, the custom was that, during bein hazemanim, the better bochurim would learn the coming mesechta with Rashi (She’airis Nosson, p.358; I heard the custom in Slabodka from my father, Rabbi Mordechai Golshevsky).