Eruvin 63: “I Have Come Now”
As we approach Shavuos, the Maasai L’Melech’s words about the importance of Torah study will surely resonate: “Most mitzvos are time-centered. Some must be fulfilled by day, others at night. Other mitzvos have their own particular times when they must be fulfilled. Torah study is an exception to this rule. As the posuk states, ‘Vehagisa bo yomam volaylah – And you shall contemplate them day and night.’ Every available instant is earmarked for learning whenever possible. We must ask ourselves at every moment if we can learn, and if this is possible, we must capitalize on the moment.
“In Eruvin 63 we find that when an angel came to rebuke Yehoshua, he was unsure whether the malach came because they did not bring the korban tomid or because of bittul Torah. But when the malach said, ‘I have come now,’ Yehoshua understood that the angel was there due to bittul Torah. But if this merely means that one can tell from the timing of the angel’s appearance that he came due to bittul Torah, why did Yehoshua even ask? We must say that the angel’s response, ‘I have come now,’ is not merely a statement about timing. ‘Now’ indicates that the angel came specifically for the needs of that very instant – to tell them the importance of using every available moment for Torah. When Yehoshua heard this, he immediately began to delve into the vast depths of halacha” (Ma’asai L’Melech, Parshas Eikev).
Eruvin 64: To Be a Fitting Vessel for Torah
The Alter of Slabodka explains the importance of showing proper respect for Torah. “In Eruvin 64 we find that one who says, ‘This word of Torah is no’eh, pleasant, and this one is not’ is compared to a morally degraded person and will lose a fortune. We are speaking here of one who learns diligently and fulfills the mitzvah of learning Torah, which is keneged kulom. Nevertheless, if one uses the word no’eh to describe Torah, it is inappropriate and reveals a subtle flaw.
“This is an important lesson in general regarding the importance of how one talks. Although it may seem that one is saying words which have no real meaning, in truth, how one expresses himself demonstrates a great deal. Although such flaws are often subtle, they are not appropriate for one who wishes to be a fitting vessel for the holy Torah.”
The Biurei Hachassidus explains this very well: “The words of Torah are endlessly deep – they are one with Hashem! How can a person with his limited understanding dare say that one word of Torah is pleasant or that another is not? Although Hashem gave us the Torah as a gift, we do not understand its depth at all. Just like one cannot make distinctions in Hashem’s absolute oneness, which we do not begin to fathom, one cannot evaluate the totality of Torah and conclude that one word is pleasant or not” (Sichos HaSaba M’Slabodka; Biurei Hachassidus,Likkutim).
Eruvin 65: At the Right Time
Rav Yaakov Meir Schechter gives an intriguing explanation of how and what one should learn: “In Eruvin 65 we find that when they said to Rav Zeira that his learning is clear, he told them that this was because he learned during the day. But when Rav Chisda learned at night and his daughter asked why he did not sleep, he replied that days are coming when we will sleep at length. Rav Yehudah says that nights were created for sleep, while Reish Lakish says that they were formed for learning. It is clear from the Gemara that all of these statements are true, depending on the person. A person whose nature is such that it is best for him to learn during the day should sleep at night that has clarity when he learns during the day. A person who is busy during the day should make time to learn at night.”
The Kamarna Rebbe in Notzer Chessed continues in this vein. He explains that each tzaddik has his own unique path to come close to Hashem: “One person grows the most when his learning is primarily in the Zohar and other deep works. For another it is best if most of his time is spent involved in Shas and poskim. And the same is true in other areas of avodah. Nevertheless, while each person should follow what is best for him, he should also respect his friend’s unique path” (Leket Amorim, Part II, p. 72; Notzer Chessed, Chapter V).
Eruvin 66: Incentives on Shabbos
Tosafos on thisdaf is clear that some gifts are permitted on Shabbos.
Setting aside times for children to learn or recite Tehillim on Shabbos is certainly important. It is quite normal for a group that does so to offer a prize as a kind of incentive for the children to come and learn or daven. One father wondered if this is permitted on Shabbos. “After all, the general rule is that one may not give a gift on Shabbos,” he said.
When this question was presented Rav Avrohom Henoch Pietrekovsky, he ruled that this is certainly permitted. “You are correct that one may not give a gift on Shabbos in general. However, there are certainly exceptions to this rule. The Mahari Assad rules that one may accept a gift if he does so on condition that he does not acquire the item until Motzoei Shabbos. As far as the prizes the children receive, it appears that there is no problem with it. If they receive treats, it is definitely permitted, since they are things that enhance the children’s enjoyment of Shabbos. Even cards with the pictures of gedolim and the like are most likely permitted, since they are for the sake of an important mitzvah.”
When Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was consulted regarding cards that have points on them and enable the children to collect prizes, he explained why they are permitted in a very compelling manner: “Although it would have been possible to argue that such cards are muktzah machmas chisaron kis, since the children guard them carefully to collect the prizes, nevertheless, it is possible to be lenient regarding these cards. They are not only for collecting prizes. They are also used as proof by the child to show to parents and friends how much he has accomplished. Because of that, they have a permitted use and may be carried on Shabbos” (Shulchan Hamevuar, Shabbos, 306:12; Aleinu Leshabeiach, Part VI, p. 352).
Eruvin 67: Instinctive Fear
During the Gulf War, Eretz Yisroel was a very scary place to be. Especially during the first few attacks, most people were very frightened and did their utmost to rush to the closest safe room the moment the sirens went off. But of course, to completely seal off an entire hospital was not practical. The nurses and doctors received extensive training to get used to remaining available for patients despite the danger.
When the siren finally did go off, one nurse was beset by panic and rushed to the safe room downstairs, forgetting all her conditioning. After the incident, the staff wondered if it was proper to fire her. After all, she had not remained at her post during the difficult time when patients needed the hospital staff the most.
When this question was presented to Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, he ruled with his usual acumen: “The Netziv asks how it was that Moshe Rabbeinu ran when Hashem turned his staff into a snake. After all, from what did he flee? And how does it make sense that a person who stands in Hashem’s Presence flees a mere snake?
“He explains that Moshe felt the natural panic of a person suddenly confronted by a viper. He flight was reflexive and therefore not considered a thought-out action. This is why one who puts out his lamp due to robbers is exempt from bringing a sacrifice. The situation there describes a person who is overwhelmed by his fear of the robbers and acts reflexively.
“The Netziv explains in his drashos that there are two types of fear, pachad and behalah. Pachad is when one is afraid in a normal way. Behalah connotes panic. It is regarding such panic that the Gemara in Eruvin 67 tells us ‘his lips trembled.’
“It seems clear that the nurse felt behalah. She should not be held responsible for her actions during the alarm. Her terror compelled her to act as she did” (Chashukei Chemed, Eiruvin, p. 494-496).
Eruvin 68: The Vindictive Neighbor
Once, in the city of Montpellier, some people who lived in the same mavui – an alleyway which opened to the public domain – made an eruv together so that they could carry on Shabbos. On Shabbos, one of the friends became angry at another and made his portion of the eruv hefker. Since he knew that all the neighbors had to be part of the eruv – if even one neighbor was not part of the eruv it would not be valid – he would punish the man he was upset at, who really needed to use the eruv that week.
When the other neighbors brought this question to the chachmei hador, they ruled that the eruv was still valid: “One man’s declaration on Shabbos that his portion in the eruv is hefker does not invalidate the eruv,” they said. “Although we find in Eruvin 68 that if a person is particular about the eruv and would not give it to one of the neighbors to use – for example, if it was bread, he would not give it to one of the neighbors on request – the eruv is invalid, that is irrelevant here. That passage is discussing when they are particular from before Shabbos. And even if we say that suddenly being particular on Shabbos would prohibit the eruv, it is still not relevant here. In that case, the neighbor who is particular does not intend to nullify the eruv. He merely refuses to allow his neighbor to use the eruv, thereby causing it to become invalid. He should not have been particular, but was. In our case, this man vindictively wishes to nullify the eruv and incommode his friend. It is therefore proper to block him by allowing them to carry” (Me’iri, Eruvin 80).
Eruvin 69: The Hand that Holds the Quill
On this daf, we find that some people are so degraded that they come to resemble animals.
The Alter of Kelm explains this in depth: “One who does not think about Hashem’s Hashgachah in his life is like an animal. We need to resemble humans, not beasts. An animal knows only what it sees. It has no ability to discern the underpinnings of what it sees. A person can comprehend true cause and effect. Hashem is the Primal Cause and we must see how He is involved in our lives. If one does not comprehend this, he is like an unthinking beast.
“This is clear from Rashi’s comments in Yonah. There we find that Hashem tells Yonah that he will have mercy on such a large city that has beasts, among other things. Rashi explains that this refers to people who are like animals, since they do not recognize who created them.
Rav Tzvi Hirsh Broide provided a wonderful parable to help us understand the point: “You know, it is possible for one to look into a keyhole and only perceive the quill writing, but not the hand holding the quill. Nevertheless, it is preposterous to suggest that the quill writes with no hand, no rhyme or reason. Similarly, we see in nature a tremendous order, much more than a mere quill writing on paper. How can one believe for an instant that it all came about on its own?” (Bais Kelm, Emunah, p. 111-114).