For the week ending 19 November 2005 / 17 Heshvan 5766

Eiruvin 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  1. Using human or animal as a wall for permitting entry from beyond the Shabbat techum limit or for making a succah kosher
  2. Returning from outside the techum limit if one went for the right cause
  3. When arms are taken up for defense on Shabbat
  4. Falling asleep on the road and waking up after start of Shabbat
  5. How ownerless objects or those belonging to a non-Jew are considered in regard to how far they can be taken on Yom Tov or on Shabbat where there is an eiruv
  6. Guidelines on whose opinion to follow in a dispute of the Tannaic Sages
  7. Are the amot arm-lengths standard or relative to each persons body?
  8. The fish trap separating the techum areas of two cities
  9. Three courtyards open to each other and to the avenue
  10. Dividing the food portions contributed for a neighborhood eiruv or denying others access to ones portion
  11. Two ways of looking at the idea behind the neighborhood eiruv
  12. Making an eiruv for walking without placing food, only designating a defined spot like a tree or fence
  13. Can actions which cannot be done simultaneously be effective if done consecutively?

Which is the Better Eiruv?

A Jew who wishes to walk on Shabbat as on a holiday beyond the techum (boundary of 2,000 cubits) can make an eiruv techumim by placing, before the beginning of the holy day, the minimal amount of food for two meals at a site within the techum. He thus establishes this spot as his virtual home for Shabbat and may walk 2,000 cubits from there in any direction on Shabbat.

What if he is traveling and has no food with him and Shabbat will begin before he reaches the city he is headed for? The mishna offers him two options. One of them is for him to simply designate the spot he is at when Shabbat begins as his virtual Shabbat home, which will entitle him to walk 2,000 cubits in any direction on Shabbat. Is this option of making an eiruv without food just by establishing a virtual Shabbat home through a physical presence when Shabbat enters also available to a Jew who is at home on Friday and has the ability to make the eiruv with food? This is a matter of dispute. According to the explanation of Rabbi Nachman (51a) the dispute centers around whether the Sages placed a priority on an eiruv consisting of food at the spot designated as a virtual Shabbat home or on physical presence there when Shabbat begins. Rabbi Meirs position is that the preferred method is the use of food and the option mentioned in the mishna is a special dispensation for the food-less traveler (referred to in our mishna as a "poor man" because of his present lack of resources for the eiruv). The Jew who is in his home before Shabbat (referred to in our mishna as a "wealthy man" because he has the ability of supplying food for the eiruv) is not entitled to this privilege and must have food delivered to the site he has chosen.

Rabbi Yehuda, on the other hand, contends that the Sages gave priority to the physical presence at the eiruv site and only sanctioned the option of placing food there on Friday as a way of relieving the eiruv maker of the trouble involved in providing a physical presence at the outset of Shabbat. The option of a food-less eiruv is therefore available to the "wealthy man" in the city as well as to the "poor man" on the road.

What the Sages Say

"If one Sage has a more lenient position may he scoff at one who has a more stringent one!?"

  • The gemaras rejection of this being the cause for Rabbi Yossi ben Rabbi Chanina's laughing upon hearing the position of Rabbi Chiya (Eiruvin 48a)

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