Hillel is the Winner

Daf 221-232 (Eruvin 2a-13b)


Daf 221 (Eruvin 2a-2b)

Perek 1. Mishnah. The mishnah documents a dispute on whether there is a maximum height for a crossbeam above the entry to an alley, and whether there is a maximum width to the opening.

Gemara. The gemara seeks to determine if the dispute may be clarified by comparing the mishnah (rabbinic) to the laws regarding a Succah (biblical). The measurements of the entrance to the Temple and the Tabernacle are invoked to determine if the same verse regulates all four entrances.

Daf 222 (Eruvin 3a-3b)

The gemara seeks to find proof that the height of the entrance to an alley may not exceed the height of the entrance to the Sanctuary of the Temple. Some argue that the height restriction came from concern that a taller bar might go unnoticed and result in people carrying from one domain to another. The height of the entrance is compared to the height of a Succah. Is the Succah, which is owned by an individual, more likely to be properly maintained, while the alley, which is jointly owned, less likely to be maintained? (“For as people say, ‘A pot in the charge of two cooks is neither hot nor cold’.”) If so, one needs to be more stringent on requiring maintenance of the entrance to the alley.

Daf 223 (Eruvin 4a-4b)

The unit of measure (tefach) is variable. The gemara seeks to determine when the “bigger” tefach and when the “smaller” tefach apply; speculating that a person should always choose the one that results in the more stringent interpretation of the rule. Some dispute which approach is more stringent in various scenarios. R’Chiya bar Ashi says “the laws governing standards of measure . . . have no Scriptural basis.” This is disputed at length.

Daf 224 (Eruvin 5a-5b)

The gemara considers the case where the crossbeam over the entry to the alley is too high but a modest rise is built up from the ground “to serve as a reminder” that this is the boundary of the domain. What is the remedy when the crossbeam is too low?

Daf 225 (Eruvin 6a-6b)

The gemara considers the case where a wall of the alley is breached. Is a breach in the side different from a breach in the front? (Perhaps a breach in the front may qualify as an entrance.) Can one choose to follow the lenient rulings of both Hillel and Shammai? (No.) Can one follow Shammai at all?

Daf 226 (Eruvin 7a-7b)

R’Yehoshua is the source of the notion that one may follow either Hillel or Shammai, because he [Yehoshua] “pays no heed to heavenly voices.” All agree that whoever one chooses to follow, one must follow one’s teacher consistently. In the case of interdependent questions where two teachers partially disagree, “one who adopts both leniencies is wicked, and one who adopts both stringencies is a fool. But where the two stringencies do not contradict each other, we may follow both.”

Daf 227 (Eruvin 8a-8b)

The gemara seeks to determine what is permitted when there are multiple breaches in the walls of the alley. Does it depend on whether or not the area is privately owned? It is more likely that an area under the control of an individual is subject to change at the whim of the owner– change that may alter the status of the area. Does it depend on whether the openings on both ends of an alley are visible to one approaching it?

Daf 228 (Eruvin 9a-9b)

Here the gemara considers the restrictions associated with the different types of domain that may surround the alley, as well as the implications of a border that is only clearly visible from the inside or the outside.

Daf 229 (Eruvin 10a-10b)

The gemara seeks to determine the direction and the relative size of large and small passages in which carrying is permitted from one to the other. It then seeks to determine when a wall with gaps that measure less than the standing wall do not invalidate the status of the passageway. The gaps in the wall are compared to the gap in a latrine seat, which is measured by the “space of a finger,” though some disagree as to whether the finger is a thumb or a smaller finger.

Daf 230 (Eruvin 11a-11b)

The gemara seeks to determine what is permitted when a wall contains many entrances and windows and whether it depends on if the combined length of the wall segments exceeds the combined length of the gaps. It goes on to consider in what situations (if any) a vine hung from poles creates a valid partition; is it critical that the vines be strung atop the poles or is it sufficient to hang them off the sides? Is the space between the poles relevant?

Mishnah. Here is a rule on how to modify an entrance to permit carrying in the corridor.

Gemara. The gemara seeks to determine who is the author of the mishnah and whether it applies to a closed alley or an open passageway.

Daf 231 (Eruvin 12a-12b)

Are sideposts required on both sides of the entrance in order to permit carrying? Do such ornaments serve as partitions or “reminders”? Are the same standards in effect if the walls are curved?

Daf 232 (Eruvin 13a-13b)

Is R’Meier the unnamed disciple of R’Akiva whose opinion determines the halakah in this case? In pursuing the answer to this question the gemara relates a dispute about the ink that may be used to create a Torah scroll. The ink that R’Meier uses is indelible. R’Yishmael, citing the trial of a wife suspected of being unfaithful, wonders whether indelible ink is permitted (in the trial, the writing must be dissolved in the potion); or is it only forbidden when writing the verses that will be used in the potion? There is a dispute as to whether dissolvable ink is permitted for these verses under all circumstances or only when written for the purpose of the potion. And there is another dispute as to whether the scroll used in the potion must be prepared for a specific trial to be valid.

R’Meier’s career is contemplated. R’Acha bar Chanina asks, “Why . . . [given his brilliance] . . . did they not fix the halachah according to his views?” (Answer: “Because his colleagues could not fathom the depths of his reasoning.”) Several examples are presented of students of Meier who could persuasively argue either side of a decision. A heavenly voice decreed that Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai– both– “are the words of the living God”; even so, deciding in favor of Hillel. The gemara asks why Beit Hillel merited this distinction. (Answer: Because they were easy and forbearing and they would study their opinion and the opinion of Beit Shammai. And not only that, but they would mention the matters of Beit Shammai before their own.”) Hillel’s humility is compared to Shammai’s arrogance: “whoever lowers himself . . . the Holy One . . . raises him up. And  . . . whoever raises himself up . . . the Holy One . . . lowers him.”

Hillel and Shammai debate whether or not it would be preferable not to have been born. After two and a half years they voted and concluded, “It would have been more pleasant for a person not to have been created . . . [but] now that he has been created . . . let him examine his deeds.”

Mishnah. Here are regulations for constructing a proper crossbeam.

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