Monday, 25 March 2013

Eiruvin 16a, b

Another day filled with cleaning and cooking for Pesach; another daf yomi reading that challenges my desire to be perfectly focused.  Today we examined partitions as they affect diversity in crops; how and when crops can be close to each other.  We then looked at horizontal and vertical partitions.  We ended with a discussion about how individuals, couples, and groups of three can use these guidelines to create partitions and thus legally carry on Shabbat.

While reading the beginning of today's daf, I found myself recalling a dilemma that first faced when I was six years old.  Learning about numbers and how they work in relationship, I wondered about the concept of "one".  I understood one apple; that was easy.  But that number line got me thinking.  How do we know where "one" begins and where it ends?  Can we continue to get closer and closer to the edges of "one" to definitively identify the borders of "one"; where "one" can show me that perfect barrier between itself and either "two" or blank space... or something else?

And as I write this, I wonder about how this might be connected with the idea of G-d as "one".  What is one?  By definition is "one" separate and distinct from everything else?  Or might "one" have blurry edges?  Perhaps we are all connected to "one", as there is truly no finite distinction between "one" and "another".

All of the laws of Eiruvin - today's discussion of barriers included - share the foundation of 'how to demonstrate distinction'.  That is, where and how we define barriers between two entities.  Much of Jewish thought is predicated on this concept of separateness.  All of my life I have struggled with the notion that separateness is important.  Deep inside, I feel a connection that defies barriers - even when the connection is between myself and inanimate objects.  A difficult idea to explain, but certainly worth exploring in the context of Eiruvin.

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