Monday, 17 June 2013

Eiruvin 101a, b

We move back to the rabbis’ conversations about eiruvin.  Daf 101 offered fascinating respite from the technical details of this masechet.  Daf 102 is concerned with a new mishna that introduces the ideas of doors and locks. 

In order for doors to close off openings in the rear court on Shabbat, the door must be ‘real’ and not a wooden board without hinges, bundles of thorns, reed mats.  However, if these are completely off of the floor, they may be closed as real doors.

The gemara looks at whether or not a baraita was referring to doors that once had hinges or doors that never had hinges.  It discusses the concept of a “widowed door”, which is one that either belonged to a widow and was in disrepair, or one that is missing a significant part of its structure.  Interesting choice of euphemisms, a widowed door – in both cases, the door is lacking. 

After looking at the idea of “not touching the floor”, the rabbis mention laws regarding stacking wood for fire, eggs, or other tasks that could be understood as acts of building.  On Shabbat, these tasks must be completed from top to bottom, where the top log/egg/etc. must be suspended in the air; placed first, while the lower layres are placed next.  Why?  Because this avoids the act of building, which is not allowed on Shabbat.

A short anecdote telling us of a heretic: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya is called a “man of thorns… the best of them is as a brier” (Micah 7:4); even the best scholar is a thorn.  He is rebutted, however, where the end of the verse suggests that thorns are positive, as they can grind what is wrong or bad into something good. 

A new mishna opens the topic of opening a door in one domain while in a different domain.  The rabbis consider the city of Jerusalem before its walls were breached.  They note that because the doors were locked at night, it may have been considered a public domain and thus carrying was allowed on Shabbat.  Then again, it may have been considered a karmelit.  I am not clear whether the rabbis are telling us that carrying was allowed or that carrying was not allowed. 

The rabbis note the importance of the height of a lock is above or below ten handbreadths.  They consider where one is allowed to place a key so as not to carry the key on Shabbat, but to use it – potentially to move from one domain to another. 

The daf ends with another new mishna, this time regarding a bolt that locks a door and whether the bolt might be considered either a vessel or a utensil. These classifications would suggest whether or not the bolt was permitted for use on Shabbat.  The rabbis note that as long as the bolt is attached to and part of the larger door, its use is permitted on Shabbat.

Today’s daf offers a number of examples of ‘tough to follow’ arguments.  Because I am missing so many of the basic concepts that are considered to be common knowledge (for example, the prohibition on building on Shabbat or the meaning of the word ‘utensil’), I am certain to miss much of the intention of the daf.  However, the logic stands, the personalities are fascinating, and the development of halacha from baraitot/mishnaot is riveting.  So I manage to stick with the learning for now.  

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