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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Eruvin 13--Paraphrase of the Daf

Good Yontiff, everyone! This is the first in what will be B"H an ongoing series of a paraphrase of the daf yomi-it won't be a summary, and it won't be an in-depth shiur; instead, it will be in my words what the Daf Yomi is saying.


We start out on amud aleph talking about the disagreement between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai. R' Akiva says that they argue in both cases: i.e., when the mavoi is both more and less than four amos wide. This is redundant: and the Mishnah, terse as it is, is never redundant. What is the difference? The ruling of a chacham (either R' Achlai or R' Yechiel) differs with R' Akiva in two possible ways: 1) T"K (Tanna Kamma) hold that a mavoi narrower than four tefachim needs no adjustment, and Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai argue in the case of a mavoi which is wider than that. R' Akiva holds that they argue EVEN in the case of a mavoi less than 4 tefachim, and that is the difference.

Rabbi Akiva cites that what the disciple told him on the previous amud, i.e., that Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai don't argue on a mavoi less than four amos wide, was false, since R' Yishmael wouldn't say something so stupid. Yet he goes on to say that halacha follows this disciple!

The Gemora sees this contradiction. If the statement was false, how could the halacha follow the talmid who says this? R' Yehudah answers: it was only to sharpen the disciples with that pronouncement. In other words, R' Akiva was complementing the disciple, even though he made a false statement. Basically, the p'shat is that R' Akiva was saying "You're on the right track." Or, he was seeing if the talmid was paying attention. R' Nachman ben Yitzchok's opinion was that R' Akiva was saying that the talmid's logic was appealing, not neccesarily that halacha followed him.

But who is this talmid that is quoting R' Yishmael to R' Akiva? R' Yehoshua ben Levi says that it was none other than R' Meir, since he studied under both R' Akiva and R' Yishmael. How do we know this? A Baraisa says that when R' Meir was studying under R' Yishmael, he would put "kankatom" in his ink to prevent it from being erased, since kankatom makes it unerasable. Also in the baraisa it says that after he left R' Yishmael to study under R' Akiva, he forbade it.

But wait! There's another Baraisa that is brought up. R' Yehudah quotes R' Meir, "When I was studying with R' Akiva, I used to put kankantom into the ink, and he did not say anything to me, but when I came to R' Yishmael, he said to me: 'My son, what is your work?' I said to him: I am a scribe. He said to me: 'my son, be careful with your work, for it is the work of heaven. Should you perhaps omit one letter or add one letter, it could result that you destroy the entire world! I replied to him: I have a certain substance called kankantom which I put into the ink. He said to me: 'but may we put kankantom into the ink? For has not the Torah said: "he shall write, and he shall disolve"" from this we learn that a writing can be completely disolved. This quote is referring to the practice for a Sotah-a woman suspected of adultery. The difficulty here is that the first baraisa puts R' Meir with R' Yishmael first and R' Akiva afterwards, and the second baraisa puts him with R' Akiva first, and R' Yishmael afterwards.

This difficulty is easily resolved. First, R' Meir studied under R' Akiva, but since he could cogently defend either side of an argument, R' Meir had difficulty discerning what was the true halakah, so he went to R' Yishmael. Then he left R' Yishmael to go back to study under R' Akiva, where he learned to analyze the halakha. The only thing the Gemora can't resolve is who actually forbade the practice of adding kankantom to the ink.

Next, R' Yehudah says that R' Meir used to say: kankantom can used for any part of the Torah except the part in Parsha Nasso which the Kohen used to inscribe the words for the Sotah ritual: this, even in a regular Sefer Torah, was to be written in erasable ink. R' Yaakov holds that R' Meir said that it was only necessary to exclude kankantom when writing the parchment for the sotah ritual. In other words the question is: What do we use for the ritual? A regular Sefer Torah or a special piece of parchment? R' Yehudah holds the former, R' Yaakov the latter.

A similar dispute in another baraisa is cited. In this baraisa, they say that you can't use the same parchment for two sotah's. R' Achai bar Yoshiyah disagrees, and says its okay to use the same parchment for two different sotah's.

R' Nachman Bar Yitzchok says that this is not the same dispute as between R' Yehudah and R' Yaakov, since a Sefer Torah is for study, we can't erase the letters. The sotah parchments are written for entirely different purpose, which involves erasement.

[amud beis]

The Gemora questions a seeming contradiction in R' Achai bar Yoshiyah's words. On the one hand he says its okay to use the same parchment for two different sotah's. But in the case of two men with the same name with wives of the same name, R' Achai does not allow the use of the same get (bill of divorce). In other words, the get of one man is posul for another.

However, since in the case of the Sotah, it is only written that the Kohan shall "perform" to her, which means that only the erasing must be unique to each woman. So, it is okay for R' Achai to allow the same scroll for two sotah, but not the same get for two men with the same name. See what a difference one word in the Torah makes!

Next we turn to some aggadah (Talmudic anecdotes). R' Meir was so great, says R' Acha bar Chanina, that there was none in his generation as great as him. But, why didn't Chazal fix halacha according to his views? Because his colleagues couldn't understand his reasoning (i.e., it was so deep they didn't get it.) Next time someone doesn't agree with me, I'm going to say that I'm just too deep for them. ;D.

Later on this amud, we learn that both Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel are right. Even though they argued for three years, they are both correct. But, according to the words of the living G-d, halacha in practice follows Beis Hillel. Why? Because they were friendly, and also because they studied the views of their opponent.

Beis Hillel's humility teaches us a lesson: if you lower yourself, HaKadosh Boruch Hu will raise you up. Whoever raises himself up, HaKadosh Borchu will bring him down. Whoever searches for fame, fame will flee from him. Conversely, whoever flees from fame, fame will pursue him.

Let Beis Hillel's humility be for us a good lesson!

Daniel Jewell
Misnaged in Galus in a Chabad Shul


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