Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Yerushalmi Eruvin 3:2

Note: see retraction on bottom.
The gemara discusses the need for Eruvei Chatzeiros (a courtyard eruv, accomplished by means of shared food).
"R Yehoshua said, 'Why do we [/they] make an eruv chatzeiros? Because of "darkei shalom (the ways of peace).' A story with a woman who was an enemy of her fellow woman, and she sent her eruv via her son. She (the other woman) took him, and hugged him and kissed him. He (the son) came and related (what happened) before his mother. She said, 'here she loved me and I did not know.' Out of this, they made peace. This is what it written (Mishlei 3rd perek), 'Deracheha darchei noam vechol nesivoseha shalom' (her = the Torah's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace).

Rav Chaim Kanievsky explains the preceding Yerushalmi as explaining why they make an eruv chatzeiros (courtyards), when they are also making a shitufei muvaos (partnership of alleyways), where the alleyway encompasses the courtyard and would obviate the need for an eruv chatzeiros. The answer is, darkei shalom, the ways of peace, as the gemara proceeds to explain by way of the story.

This is a nice explanation of the gemara, but I think it is incorrect. I don't know if the following explanation is novel, since I don't have access to meforshim on this gemara, but here is my explanation.

The mishna upon which the gemara is based says that if one sends their eruv via a deaf mute, an insane person, or a minor, or with one who does not acknowledge the existence of the law of eruv, his eruv is not an eruv (i.e. invalid). Then, in the gemara, immediately preceding the one cited above, we have two statements limiting this law:

"Shmuel said, like a 9 or 10 year old, his eruv is an eruv (valid). R Yosa said, this that was said (a minor being invalid, or else a minor being invalid younger than 9 or 10) was by eruvei tchumin (a separate law regulating travel boundary on Shabbos), but by eruvei chatzeiros, even a minor."

The story is not about making an eruv chatzeiros in general, but rather making such an eruv via a minor. If so, the gemara in general is about minors, not the law of eruv chatzeiros in general.

As such, I would argue with Rav Kanievsky, and say that the question was not why we need eruv chatzeiros when we have shitufei muvaos, but rather:

"R Yehoshua said, 'Why do we [/they] make an eruv chatzeiros?"

means for what reason do they, meaning minors, make an eruv chatzeiros. Why should they have legal force to accomplish it.

Now, two statements prior, Shmuel said that minors of 9 or 10 could effect (or at least deliver) an eruv. This age has a special halachic name, "onas hapeutos." At that age, elsewhere, the Rabbis granted minors in certain circumstances the rights of acquisition and the ability to buy and sell, where the minors did not have that right Biblically. Why did they give them that right? Because of what is called "darkei shalom," to have a functioning society.

Presumably, this is what darkei shalom should mean here as well. Back to our quote:

"R Yehoshua said, 'Why do we [/they] make an eruv chatzeiros? Because of "darkei shalom (the ways of peace).'"

Basing himself on Shmuel's statement, as well as R Yosa's, he explains the reason. Just as elsewhere children of this age have their actions endowed with the force of law because of darkei shalom, so too here as well.

One we are talking about children delivering eruvei chatzeiros, and darkei shalom, we have a perfect segue to a story of a child delivering such and eruv and indeed making peace.

But, this does not mean that the gemara is saying we do not really need eruvei chatzeiros because shitufei muvaos would cover it.

Update: I retract this next week, based on the yerushalmi eruvin 7:9. Rav Kanievsky's explanation is correct. See next week's post (Sunday, August 3rd) for more details.

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