ז׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ג (May 16, 2013)

Eiruvin 69a-b: Desecrating Shabbat in Public

In the Mishna at the beginning of the perek, or chapter (61b), we learned that a non-Jew cannot participate in an eiruv unless he actually leases his rights to the courtyard to the Jews who are there. This is in contrast to a Jew who can turn over his rights to the other residents – even on Shabbat, if it had not been taken care of prior to Shabbat. Rabban Gamliel introduces the case of a Tzeduki, who seems to have the status of a non-Jew with regard to this halakha.

The Gemara on our daf distinguishes between a person who is not Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) privately and one who desecrates Shabbat publicly. The public Shabbat desecrator will be considered a non-Jew with regard to this law, and the residents of the courtyard will have to rent his share of the hatzer (=courtyard) in order to create an eiruv for carrying on Shabbat.

The Gemara now relates that a certain person went out with a coral ring into the public domain, and it is prohibited to do so on Shabbat. When he saw Rabbi Yehuda Nesia approaching, he quickly covered it. Although he was desecrating the Shabbat, he did not want to see it. Rabbi Yehuda Nesia said: A person such as this, who is careful not to desecrate Shabbat in public, may renounce his rights in his courtyard according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda.

(To understand why some jewelry cannot be worn on Shabbat, see Massekhet Shabbat).

There are different girsa’ot – variant readings – in the Gemara as to whether the person in the story did this just one time or if he did this on a regular basis. What is clear, however, is that someone who is embarrassed about being seen by a religious leader desecrating Shabbat will not be placed in the category of “Mehalel Shabbat b’farhesya” (public desecrator of the Shabbat).

On a biographical note, Rabbi Yehudah Nesi’ah was Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi’s grandson – the son of Rabban Gamliel. He was a first generation amora, who was contemporary with Rabbi Yohanan and Resh Lakish. He had the responsibility as for many years, and was the last of the Nesi’im who was a great Torah scholar and also headed the at the same time.

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