Month: September 2020

Eruvin 52

As we know, one of the most revered prayer services throughout the Jewish year is Kol Nidrei, which is a prayer that annuls the vows that we make with God. As numerous scholars have explained, Kol Nidrei has its origins in the forced conversions of Spanish Jews, with the prayer being a plea to God…

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Eruvin 51

In attempting to provide a biblical support for the rabbinic concept of the 2,000 amot Shabbat limit, today’s daf (Eruvin 51a) contains a fascinating Gezeira Shava (word association) ‘chain’ and an even more fascinating association between two seemingly disconnected areas of Jewish law.We are first told that an allusion to the 2,000 amot rule is…

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Eruvin 50

[As this is the first year when part of my Motzei Yom Kippur activities includes learning and writing a short thought on the Daf, I wanted to begin this thought by thanking all of you who read and respond to these daily thoughts, and by wishing you all a healthy, happy and blessed new year].…

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Eruvin 49

The Mishna in today’s daf (4:7, 49b) describes someone who is travelling on Friday afternoon and who, notwithstanding their best efforts, is unable to make it home for Shabbat. However, as I explained with reference to an earlier Mishna (Eruvin 4:4, 45a), dispensation is given to a traveller to designate a symbolic residence for themselves…

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Eruvin 48

Today’s daf (Eruvin 48a) begins by quoting a Beraita taught by Rabbi Chiya stating that where a water-filled ditch separates between the Shabbat boundary of two towns, an iron partition must be placed in the water in order to divide the water of one town and that of the other so that residents of both…

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Eruvin 47

Jewish law prohibits a Kohen from having contact with the dead (see Vayikra Ch. 21), and consequently, a Kohen may not enter a בית הקברות – a cemetery – with the exception of burying a close relative. Significantly, this is a biblical prohibition. However, as we are taught in the Mishna (Ohalot 17:1), if a…

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Eruvin 46

  When laypeople, Torah scholars and rabbis discuss concepts of halacha (Jewish law), they invoke various halachic principles in order to help understand and determine a particular halacha. In particular, one of the most oft-cited halachic principles in such conversations is יחיד ורבים הלכה כרבים, meaning ‘where there is a disagreement between a single Torah…

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Eruvin 45

In today’s daf we are taught in a Mishna (Eruvin 4:4, 45a) that a traveler may designate a symbolic residence for themselves (e.g. a nearby city) for Shabbat which can be up to 2,000 amot from where they are presently located, without having physically visited this place before Shabbat, and without having placed an Eruv…

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Eruvin 44

Towards the end of yesterday’s daf (Eruvin 43b), an innovative halachic solution was offered in response to a situation where someone had veered beyond their ‘techum shabbat’ and was now limited to his immediate 4-amot radius. Having heard about this situation, Rabbi Nachman suggested that a group of people surround this person – thereby creating…

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Eruvin 43

In today’s daf (Eruvin 43b), reference is made to the timing and the coming of Moshiach (the Messiah), and as the Gemara explains, we learn from Malachi 3:23 that this great and awesome day will be preceded by the arrival of the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) whose task it will be to inform and inspire us…

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Eruvin 41-42

Shana Tova! In April of this year, while reflecting on the severe impact of the Coronavirus pandemic as well as the oft-used remark that “We are all in the same boat …”, Damian Barr wrote on his twitter feed that, “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.…

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Eruvin 40

As many of you will know, I have a particular affinity with the Shehecheyanu bracha and that I am writing a book on the subject (which I’d love to complete and publish in the coming year!). And one of the reasons why I have immersed myself into understanding the Shehecheyanu bracha is because – like…

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Eruvin 39

Nowadays, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated both in Israel and the Diaspora as a two-day festival. However, it is noteworthy that the Torah mandates only one day of Rosh Hashanah (see Vayikra 23:24). We understand why Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days in the Diaspora, like other Yamim Tovim, because when the calendar was determined…

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Eruvin 38

Given that the concept of an Eruv is to establish a symbolic home, the Rabbis were insistent that for any given Shabbat or Yom Tov period, a person can only have one symbolic home which means that they may only establish a single Eruv in a single place. The question raised in the Mishna (Eruvin…

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Eruvin 37

Today’s daf (Eruvin 37) is tricky to follow. Having previously been taught in the Mishna (Eruvin 3:5, 36b) about the concept of ברירה (literally, ‘selection’, but referring to the retroactive designation of an Eruv in response to events that have yet to occur eg. ‘if this thing happens, then this Eruv shall be valid’), the…

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Eruvin 36

We often forget that there is a big difference between something that is technically available, and something that is practically and easily accessible.In today’s daf (Eruvin 36a) we are told of a case of two terumah loaves, of which one is ‘tahor’ (pure) and may be eaten, the other is ‘tamei’ (impure) and may not…

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Eruvin 35

In attempting to make sense of the Mishna in today’s daf (Eruvin 3:4, 35a), we are informed that Rabbi Meir concurs with the opinion of his teacher Rabbi Akiva that the laws of techumin (forbidding someone from walking more than 2,000 amot on Shabbat) are a DeOraita (i.e. they are directly derived from the Torah…

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Eruvin 34

The Mishna in today’s daf (Eruvin 3:3, 34b) discusses the question of whether we may rely on an Eruv (Chatzeirot) which cannot be accessed in the Bein Hashmashot period of Erev Shabbat because – for example – the Eruv is locked in a box or building that cannot be opened.As Rabbi Gil Student explains in…

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Eruvin 33

Today’s daf (Eruvin 33) discusses the status of an Eruv which has been placed or hung on a tree, and while doing so, it also teaches us an important lesson about inclusion and access. As previously taught in the Mishna (Eruvin 3:3, 32b), if an Eruv is placed on a tree above ten tefachim (approx.…

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Eruvin 32

On a number of occasions in today’s daf (Eruvin 32a-b) reference is made to a חבר (chaver) which, though generally translated as ‘friend’, actually refers to someone who is very meticulous in their mitzvah observance and who is מחובר (deeply ‘connected’) to the observance of halacha.In particular, the Gemara records a disagreement between Rebbi and…

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Eruvin 31

Towards the end of today’s daf (Eruvin 31b), while discussing the extent to which various people can be relied upon to deposit an Eruv Techumin in the right location, we are introduced to the fascinating halachic principle of חזקה שליח עושה שליחותו – meaning, ‘it is presumed that an agent will perform their agency’.What this…

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Eruvin 30

  As previously mentioned, an Eruv Techumin allows someone to walk beyond 2,000 amot from the boundaries of a town or city on Shabbat by establishing a symbolic home – known as an ‘Eruv Techumin’ but which is often simply referred to as an ‘Eruv’ – within those 2,000 amot, which thereby enables them to…

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Eruvin 29

In general, I only comment on passages in the Gemara whose meaning I believe I have grasped at least on a basic level. However, once in a while I encounter a passage whose basic meaning eludes me, but which nevertheless still speaks to me. A case in point is today’s daf (Eruvin 29a) where, having…

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Eruvin 28

Today’s daf (Eruvin 28b) informs us that when Rabbi Zeira felt weak from his Torah studies, he would go and sit at the entrance to Rav Yehuda bar Ami’s Beit Midrash in order to show honour to the Torah scholars who were going in and out of the Beit Midrash. Significantly, this is not the…

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Eruvin 27

Much of today’s daf (Eruvin 27a) is focused on exploring Rabbi Yochanan’s principle of אין למדים מן הכללות ואפילו במקום שנאמר בו ”חוץ”, which means that ‘we cannot deduce laws from general rules [stated in the Mishna], even when those general rules seem to be very specific by stating specific exceptions to those rules’. Significantly,…

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Eruvin 26

One of my all-time favourite movies is ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. However, what many people don’t realise is that while ‘Shawshank’ tells a series of powerful stories about prisoners, Shawshank is a profound philosophical debate about the concept of ‘Hope’. While ‘Red’ – having been in prison for many years – had come to believe that…

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Eruvin 25

Today’s daf (Eruvin 25a) makes reference to various acts used to halachically ‘shotgun’ (i.e. claim rights and acquire) an ownerless field (i.e. what is known as a קנין חזקה), with the general rule of thumb being that an action performed by someone to improve a field enables someone to acquire the field.   With this…

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Eruvin 24

I have an admission to make which is that I love watching TV shows – like the British DIY SOS – where a house in need of significant improvements and which is not meeting the physical needs of its inhabitants is overhauled by a team of professionals over a short period of time.It is hard…

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Eruvin 23

The Mishna in today’s daf (2:5, Eruvin 23a) discusses a garden or what is known as a קרפף – an enclosed non-residential space which, despite it being an enclosed and therefore a private domain according to biblical law, was categorized by the Rabbis as being a כרמלית (a semi public/private area) – thereby forbidding carrying…

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