Kollel Iyun Hadaf

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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld


ERUVIN 21 Next
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QUESTION: The Gemara says in the name of Shmuel that Pasei Bira'os may be erected around a well (in order to permit one to carry water from the well to the area around it on Shabbos) only when the water in the well is fit for human consumption.

Why does the water need to be fit for human consumption? The Beraisa (end of 20b) teaches that the enactment of Pasei Bira'os was made only in order for the Olei Regalim to be able to give water to their animals!


(a) RASHI explains that it is the presence of water in the well that transforms the Pasei Bira'os into effective Mechitzos and the area inside the Pasim into a valid Reshus ha'Yachid, because the water in the well causes the area to be Hukaf l'Dirah, enclosed for the purpose of man's residence. (See Rashi's comments at the end of the Mishnah on 18a, DH v'Chatzer.) Only when the water in the well is considered "significant" and fit for man can the Pasei Bira'os serve as effective Mechitzos to create an area that is considered Hukaf l'Dirah.

(b) TOSFOS (DH Midi d'Chazi) explains that Pasei Bira'os actually do allow man to drink from the water drawn from the well. When the Gemara says that a man who wants to drink water from a well on Shabbos must climb into the well and drink there, it refers to a case in which the man has no animals to feed. However, when Pasei Bira'os are erected in order to draw water for one's animals, the leftover water may be used for man. The water must be fit for man so that man can benefit from it as well as animal.

(c) Tosfos suggests further that perhaps it is permissible even to draw water from the well for the sake of man once the Pasei Bira'os are in place. When the Gemara says that a man must climb into the well to drink, it refers to a situation where no Pasei Bira'os were erected because there were no animals to feed. However, when Pasei Bira'os were made for the sake of the animals, then a man may rely on those Pasim and draw water from the well even for himself. Therefore, the water must be fit for man so that man can benefit from it as well as animal.


QUESTION: The Gemara expounds upon verses that describe the "length and breadth" of the Torah. Based on descriptions of visions of a parchment representing the Torah she'Ba'al Peh that was seen by the prophets Zecharyah and Yechezkel, the Gemara states that the Torah is 20 Amos long and 10 Amos wide. (Rashi explains that these Amos are not ordinary Amos, but they are "Divine," metaphorical Amos.) The Gemara infers from the words of Zecharyah, who described the parchment as folded over onto itself (Zecharyah 5:2), that when unfolded the parchment measures 20 by 20 Amos. Yechezkel added that the parchment is covered with writing on both sides (Yechezkel 2:10). Accordingly, the total area of the parchment that contains writing is 20 by 40 Amos. This, the Gemara teaches, is the full length and breadth of the Torah.

What is the meaning of these measurements of the "length and breadth" of the Torah? What is significant about the description of the parchment of the Torah as being "folded over" and covered by writing on both sides?

ANSWER: The MAHARSHA explains why the parchment was seen folded over with writing on both sides. We know that there are four distinct approaches to learning the verses of the Torah: "Peshat," "Remez," "Derush," and "Sod" (hinted to by the acronym "PaRDeS"; see Chagigah 14b). Peshat refers to the simple meaning of the verses of the written Torah. Derush is the exegetical methodology for extracting the Oral Law from the Written Law. The Maharsha says that the folded parchment alludes to these two approaches. The side of the parchment that can be seen on top represents the Peshat, the most obvious and clearest meaning of the verses. By unfolding the parchment, one uncovers the Derush, or the exegetical derivations of the Torah. This deeper meaning of the verses of the Written Law is not as apparent as the Peshat. It can be found only by peering "underneath" the Peshat.

The other two facets of the Torah are written on the back of the parchment and not on its face. This denotes the fact that they are more difficult to grasp and they require a greater effort to find. The hidden teachings and secrets of the Torah are taught through Remez and Sod. Remez refers to the metaphorical and deep, philosophical approach to the Torah. Sod refers to the Kabbalistic meaning of the verses. These two approaches to the Torah complete the four "faces" of Torah which were represented in the parchment of Zecharyah's vision.

Based on the Gemara here, we may suggest a deeper meaning in another cryptic passage in the Gemara. The Gemara later (53a) describes the "generation gap" between the earlier and later Chachamim, comparing the successive generations to the doorway of the Ulam and the doorway of the Heichal, respectively. "The hearts of the earlier Chachamim were as broad as the gateway to the Ulam (which was 20 by 40 Amos). The hearts of the later Chachamim were as broad as the gateway to the Heichal (which was 10 by 20 Amos). And our own hearts are no broader than the opening of the needle of a seamstress."

The Gemara there teaches that the contrast between the greatness of the earlier Chachamim and the feebleness of the minds and hearts of the later Chachamim is comparable to the relationship between the 20 by 40 entranceway to the Ulam and the 10 by 20 entranceway to the Heichal. Why does the Gemara choose the comparison of these two doorways in order to express the difference between the wisdom of the earlier and later sages?

The MAHADURA BASRA (written by the son-in-law of the Maharsha) suggests as follows. The gateway to the Ulam was 20 by 40 Amos, which is equal to the total length and breadth of all four parts of the Torah as represented by the parchment in Zecharyah's vision. This symbolizes that the hearts of the earlier sages were so broad that they were able to fully grasp all of the different aspects of the Torah. (Indeed, the Gemara there continues and says that the "earlier Chachamim" refers to Rebbi Akiva, the greatest of the Tana'im of the Mishnah. The Gemara in Chagigah (14b) relates that Rebbi Akiva was the only Tana who entered and emerged from the "Pardes" -- representing all four levels of understanding of the Torah -- unharmed.)

In contrast, the hearts of the later sages are compared to the entranceway of the Heichal, which was only 10 by 20 Amos. This symbolizes that they fully mastered only one of the four aspects of the Torah -- Peshat, the simple meaning of the text of the Written Law. They did not grasp the other levels of the Torah as deeply as the earlier sages, who were able to fully comprehend all four facets of the Torah. Their hearts are compared to the entranceway of the Heichal, which was 10 by 20 Amos, which is equal to the dimensions of the upper layer of the folded parchment that Zecharyah saw. Our hearts, though, are no wider than the eye of a needle, for we do not fully grasp even the Peshat, the simple meaning of the verses! (See Parasha Page, Terumah 5756, for further elucidation of this idea.)



AGADAH: The Gemara says that Shlomo ha'Melech instituted the enactments of Eruvin and Netilas Yadayim. Based on this Gemara, the VILNA GA'ON explains a cryptic Gemara in Gitin (68b). The Gemara there relates that during the time that Shlomo ha'Melech was dethroned he declared, "This is all I have left from all of my toil" (Koheles 2:10). The Gemara says that "this" refers either to his walking stick or to his goblet (see Rashi there, DH Gundo).

The Vilna Ga'on (Zichron Moshe, cited by Divrei Eliyahu to Koheles) explains this allegorically. Shlomo ha'Melech was saying that after all of his toil, the only things that he would take with him eternally were the good deeds that he did and the merit from the enactments that he made. Shlomo ha'Melech enacted two decrees to safeguard the observance of the Torah. One was the laws of Eruvin, symbolized by a walking stick (Eruvei Techumin and Eruvei Chatzeros). The other was Netilas Yadayim, symbolized by a cup.


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