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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Eruvin 22

Today’s daf (Eruvin 22a) contains a Mishna (2:4) wherein Rabbi Yehuda and the Chachamim (Sages) debate whether the unique private enclosure created by affixing four right-angled posts – known as פסי ביראות – around a public well to enable pilgrims to feed their animals as they journeyed to and from Jerusalem, is halachically undermined if […]

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Eruvin 21

In contrast to the various detailed discussions about the finite physical boundaries of different types of Eruvin, today’s daf (Eruvin 21a) includes an exquisite teaching – quoted by Rav Chisda in the name of Mari bar Mar – about the sheer vastness of Torah.The teaching begins by citing a verse from Tehillim 119:96 stating, “I […]

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Eruvin 20

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Eruvin 2:2, 17b) about the enclosure created by affixing four right-angled posts around a public well to enable pilgrims to feed their animals as they journeyed to and from Jerusalem, and as the Mishna explained, this enclosure had to be sufficiently large to enable the head and most […]

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Eruvin 19

There are times when the Halachic and Aggadic masters of the Gemara teach ideas and laws that are clearly understandable, while there are other times when we encounter veiled and cryptic teachings which we – as the learner – are then invited to explore what their possible meanings may be.A good example of this is […]

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Eruvin 18

Among the many fascinating lessons found in today’s daf (Eruvin 18b) are a series of teachings from Rabbi Yirmiyah Ben Elazar – one of which I had known for quite some time, but until today, had completely misunderstood.This specific teaching – which, it should be noted, is regularly referenced when introducing a guest of honour […]

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Eruvin 17

Like most people, one of my greatest fears is being alone and in need of assistance – yet when I call out to others to come and help me, they do not hear me and they do not come.I mention this in connection to today’s daf (Eruvin 17a) where we are taught in a Beraita […]

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Eruvin 16

Much of today’s daf (Eruvin 16a-b) discusses the various ways in which partitions (מחיצות) can be constructed to create halachic boundaries and to thereby enable carrying on Shabbat.Having already discussed a variety of such examples, our Gemara cites a Tosefta from Massechet Kilayim (4:2-3) which categorises the various different halachic partitions into three groups – […]

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Eruvin 15

Much of today’s daf (Eruvin 15a) addresses a disagreement between Abaye and Rava concerning a לחי (sidepost) found at the side of a מבוי (an alleyway coming off a public domain and leading to a residential area) which was not initially placed there to halachically function as a לחי. According to Abaye, הוי לחי – […]

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Eruvin 14

There is a fascinating contrast found in today’s daf (Eruvin 14a-b) which speaks volumes about a tension within – as well as the ingredients of – the halachic system. For almost all of today’s daf we are taught about the halachically required physical properties of a קורה (crossbeam) – such as how wide it must […]

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Eruvin 13

While there are certain dapim (pages) in the Gemara that, on first glance, seemingly contain a variety of disjointed themes, it is often the case that, upon closer examination, a unifying theme is found that connects the many different teachings and incidents being discussed.A case in point is today’s daf (Eruvin 13a-b) which begins by […]

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Eruvin 12

Today’s daf (Eruvin 12a) tells us about an incident that occurred in a shepherds’ village, where an inlet of the sea breached the outer wall of the courtyard (חצר) of the village leaving that side of the courtyard entirely open to the sea which meant that the residents of the village would no longer be […]

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Eruvin 11

Today’s daf (Eruvin 11a-b) discusses the צורת הפתח (‘a form of a doorway’ – consisting of two vertical sideposts [לחי], on which sits a horizontal beam, pole or twine [קורה], to create ‘a form of a doorway’) which operates as a substantive halachic boundary such that an opening with a צורת הפתח is considered to […]

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Eruvin 10

 We have previously discussed how a קורה (crossbeam) or a לחי (sidepost) placed at the entrace of a מבוי enable carrying in the מבוי. However, as should be clear from the ongoing Talmudic discussion, while a קורה and a לחי must have certain physical properties, their function is primarily symbolic, and thus the first teaching […]

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Eruvin 9

In addition to my belief that rich Jewish values can be found in nuanced halachic details, I also believe that halachic writings are deeply spiritual texts which are even, on occasion, profoundly poetic – and a case in point is an exquisite phrase found twice in today’s daf (Eruvin 9a).In terms of the nuanced halachic […]

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Eruvin 8

One of the great fascinations of the Rabbis of the Talmud were threshholds and boundaries in space and time, and in today’s daf (Eruvin 8b) we encounter a lengthy discussion about the liminal space immediately below a קורה (crossbeam) at the entrance of a מבוי (an alleyway coming off a public domain and leading to […]

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Eruvin 7

Yesterday, in the Torah reading of Parshat Re’eh (Devarim 13:15), we encountered a fascinating phrase which appears once again in the Torah reading of Parshat Shoftim (Devarim 17:4) that we will be reading next Shabbat.In both instances, the verses are describing the task of a judge to verify a matter of legal weight, and in […]

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Eruvin 6

Today’s daf (Eruvin 6a-b) is one of the most fundamental throughout Massechet Eruvin in outlining the principles and details necessary for the contemporary eruvin that surround various cities around the world:“Our Rabbis taught [in a Beraita]: How do we create an eruv [and therefore halachically privatise] a street of the public domain (רשות הרבים)? [The […]

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Eruvin 5

We have previously explained that a קורה (cross-beam) can be placed across the entrance of a מבוי (an alleyway adjoining a public domain and leading to a residential area which, though an area where carrying is permitted on Shabbat according to biblical law, was decided by our rabbis to be an area where carrying is […]

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Eruvin 4

Kohelet 4:12 famously states that ‘a three- stranded cord will not quickly be broken’ – which is understood to teach us that a three-stranded cord has a level of strength far exceeding a single or two-stranded cord.However, in todays daf (Eruvin 4b) we seem to encounter a quite different message. While we are told that […]

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Eruvin 3

In yesterday’s daf (Eruvin 2a) we contrasted the law of the מבוי with the law of the Sukkah, and in today’s daf (Eruvin 3a) we continue this discussion and are taught by Rabbah that while a קורה crossbeam (which bridges and thereby ‘closes’ the opening of a מבוי to a public domain) that is positioned […]

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Eruvin 2

The opening line of the first Mishna of Massechet Eruvin (Eruvin 1:1, 2a) informs us that an קורה (cross-beam), which has been placed across the entrance of a מבוי (an alleyway coming off a public domain and leading to a residential area) to permit carrying in that area at a height greater than 20 amot […]

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