For the week ending 4 May 2013 / 23 Iyyar 5773

Eiruvin 58 - 64

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The method for measuring distance to determine the techum limit
  • Measuring hills and valleys and resolving conflict of expert calculations
  • The eiruv of cities large and small
  • Making a communal eiruv for a courtyard in which a non-Jew resides
  • Ruling on a halachic matter in the presence of ones teacher
  • Why the sons of Aaron died and why there was a famine in King Davids time
  • Why Yehoshua was punished to die without having a son
  • The importance of Torah study in comparison to sacrifices
  • How to overcome the problem of the uncooperative non-Jewish neighbor
  • The problem of making halachic rulings or praying after drinking wine
  • Not to be selective in which part of Torah study meets your taste
  • How two Torah scholars should take leave of each other
  • How to protect income earned without effort
  • The secret of sobering up
  • The lessons learned from the journey of Rabban Gamliel

Take the Cake on the Road

  • Eiruvin 54b

Rabban Gamliel traveled from Akko to Chaziv shortly after Pesach riding on a donkey accompanied by Rabbi Ilayi on foot. When he noticed a cake on the road he asked Rabbi Ilayi to pick it up. Upon encountering a non-Jewish traveler, he said to him, "Mavgai, take the cake from Ilayi."

There are mysteries in this story and lessons to be learned from it. When Rabbi Ilayi subsequently discovered that the fellow to whom he gave the cake was indeed named Mavgai but that Rabban Gamliel had never before met him, he came to the conclusion that this Sage, who was the head of the Sanhedrin, was blessed with ruach hakodesh (Divine inspiration) which endowed him with superhuman intelligence.

But why did he ask his escort to pick up a cake which he would not allow him to eat?

One lesson learned from this is that one should show respect for food he sees on the road and not pass by it without picking it up. The reason that his escort was not given permission to eat the cake himself was because Rabban Gamliel assumed that it was not kosher for consumption since it must have been dropped by one of the non-Jews who comprised the majority of travelers on those roads.

Tosefot raises the question as to why consumption of the cake was forbidden to Rabbi Ilayi only because it was assumed that it did not fall from a Jew. In the account of the story it is mentioned that it took place right after Pesach. Had a Jew been in possession of such chametz on Pesach would it not be forbidden for any Jew to eat it after Pesach?

The answer given by Tosefot is that if the majority of travelers on that road had been Jews, Rabban Gamliel would have concluded that the cake fell from a Jew who baked it after Pesach and would therefore be permissible for consumption.

It is interesting to note that no consideration was given to the possibility that a Jewish traveler would have in his possession chametz which was forbidden to him.

What the Sages Say

"The study of Torah is more important than the offering of sacrifices."

  • Rabbi Shmuel bar Inia quoting the Sage Rav
    Eiruvin 63b

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