Sunday, 31 March 2013

Eiruvin 23a, b

Shorter than most of the dapim of the past week or so, daf 23 continues the rabbi's conversation about courtyards and boundaries.  Today they focus on gardens, shapes of courtyards, and exact measurements that allow for carrying within those public domains on Shabbat.

One note jumped out at me: if one neighbour does not wish to join in the eiruvin for a courtyard belonging to many neighbours, this does not have to wreck the eiruv for everyone.  He (sic) is able to offer up temporary ownership of his part of the courtyard on Shabbat.  The courtyard is then available to everyone else for carrying, but he is not able to use it on Shabbat.  

I wonder about the arguments between neighbours.  How would these be managed?  It seems clear that individuals are allowed to be stringent.  Would anyone admit to preferring leniency?  How would that go over with the neighbours, particularly with regard to creating a shared public domain?

I also was delighted by the mathematical play that the rabbis engaged in as they calculated the exact areas allowed for carrying on Shabbat.  They used paper to represent amounts of area and cut those shapes to create the exact shapes at hand.  A wonderful addition for those rabbis who were drawn to more tactile manipulation of arguments.

Finally, a discussion in 23b focused on the words, "and furthermore".  If a rabbi had said "and furthermore", the rabbis understand that he must have been referring to an immediately unresolved argument.  The last argument discussed was not obviously connected.  So what was being discussed previously in this case?  

I am fascinated by the use of Talmud to discuss process as well as the topic at hand.  We learn about how the rabbis think rather than simply what they think.

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