Thursday, 20 June 2013

Eiruvin 104a, b

The end of Masechet Eiruvin caught up with me unaware - I had thought that I had at least another week of learning before beginning Pesachim!  

I should have been readied by the air in the room as I read.  It has felt for days as if the rabbis are hurriedly adding information about Shabbat halachot, regardless of their connections with the halachot of eiruvin.  Today was a great example.

The rabbis debate about whether or not salt creates an imposition between the priests' feet and the ramp that they ascend in the Temple.  Salt would help the priests not to fall, and a mishna suggests that salt be used in this way.  The rabbis are not so certain. They also remind us that this halacha regards the Temple only, and not other parts of the land.

That same mishna tells us to collect water from a particular well on Shabbat.  The rabbis look at the different cisterns and wells, the systems of retrieving water, and the possible prohibitions regarding collecting water at all.  A diagram offered in the Koren translation is intriguing - it shows where the cistern is placed.  Close by is the residence of the Sanhedrin - did they live in the Temple?  What about their families?  I am wanting to learn more about the lives of thsoe who maintained and created holiness in the Temple.

Moving into the realm of sound and song, the Gemara tells us about the prohibition of music, melody or intentional rhythm - even when knocking on a door - on Shabbat.  This answers my previous question regarding mending the string of an instrument on Shabbat (but does not answer why that task could not wait until after Shabbat if instrumental music was prohibited).  We learn about games played by women - women! - Including a game with nuts that fall on a ramp and bump into each other and a similar game using apples.  The prohibition is not the sound, in fact, but the possibility of creating holes in the ground that might be filled in. 

Daf 104 ends on a lovely note.  We look at the rules regarding the carcass of a creeping animal. Of course, it is prohibited to bring such a thing into the Temple.  But if it was found in the Temple, what shoudl be one?  The rabbis discuss this for some time.  They move into the realm of impurity, first and second degree.  I find these particulra concepts confusing, as I do not possess the basic understanding of the nature of impurity.   However, examples like those in today's daf will help me to gras these concepts more fully.  

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