Friday, August 28, 2009

Why are sheidim not a concern in the closing up window incident in Bava Batra 7a

In today's daf, Bava Batra 7a:
A certain man began to build a wall facing his neighbour's windows. The latter said to him, 'You are shutting out my light.' Said the first, 'Let me close up your windows here and I will make you others above the level of my wall.' He replied, 'You will damage my wall by so doing.' 'Let me then,' he said, 'take down your wall as far as the place of the windows and then rebuild it, fixing windows in the part above my wall.' He replied, 'A wall of which the lower part is old and the upper part new will not be firm.' 'Then,' he said, 'let me take it all down and build it up from the ground and put windows in it.' He replied, 'A single new wall in a house, the rest of which is old, would not be firm.' He then said, 'Let me take down the whole house and put windows in the new building.' He replied, 'Meanwhile I have no place wherein to live.' 'I will rent a place for you,' said the other. 'I don't want to bother,' said the first. Said R. Hama [on hearing of the case]: He had a perfect right to stop him. Is not this case the same as the other? Why, then, this repetition? — To tell us [that the owner of the house may exercise his veto] even though he only uses it for storing straw and wood.
In the entire length of this exchange, in which they consider shutting up windows, entirely, no one raises the possibility of sheidim. And Chazal surely encountered sheidim on a day to day basis. How did they not know of the issue raised by R' Yehuda Hachassid in his tzavaah, and in sefer chassidim? Even if the windows are rebuilt higher up, the sheidim will need to change their regular path and get annoyed! If standing by standing grain is considered a nezek, surely this is. And this should be mentioned, as it is quite pertinent to the discussion.

As we see in sefer chassidim, siman 1046, pictured to the right.

There are answers, such as the owner can protest successfully anyway. But I would guess that the true answer is that this is nonsense within nonsense. There was the widespread nonsense of the belief in sheidim, where Chazal likely believed in their existence, as did non-religious scientists and philosophers, such that they were part of normal, sane reality. This despite their non-existence, a feature they share with leprechauns and Care Bears. But is was entirely rational to believe in them in the time of Chazal, as well as later.

But this extra nonsense, that shutting up windows annoys sheidim to no end, appears to be R' Yehuda HaChassid's chiddush, which he derives from the malach who confronted Bilaam not wishing to divert. And if so, this would be a new nonsense which Chazal did not maintain. And so we would not expect to find gemaras which take this later innovation into consideration.


Anonymous said...

Did the purported "Sheidim" get annoyed when their route changed height wise ? The entire discussion appears to revolve around windows , and the possible rebuilding of walls with windows that are higher.
There is no discussion of walls with no openings or no windows, so not sure why you would be looking for "sheidim" tales here.

As for you sefer hachasid proof not sure that you are comparing care bears to care bears.
The grain example you bring appears to be a width difference,not a height difference unless I'm not reading the entire passage correctly.

Other than left and right issues with bilam what other direction changes does that passage discuss ?

Are "sheidim" just as annoyed with left and right as they are with not being able to travel freely through walls, whether or not the window openings are changed to a higher or lower position.

But more importantly
How can you compare the purported "sheidim" to the Care Bears who always cared in so many different ways !
I think its the height of absolute and utter disrespect!
I grew up with and love the Care Bears !
Perhaps you should dedicate a post to the life and times of the Care Bears.
Let me know if you need any photos for your post ;-)

Jaded Topaz

Yosef Greenberg said...

Its not an issue if one leaves a small opening with a glass covering where the widow was. So there's no issue with the Gemara. You should find something better to attack.

There was a great dispute whether the Tzava'ah of R' Yehudah Hachasid should be followed at all, for different reasons.

joshwaxman said...

jaded, and yosef:
true, one can find a teretz. it is more suggestive to me that a concrete disproof. and he admits up front that it is his own chiddush, though he would expect to have it accord with gemaras. (here, no mention is made of leaving it open a bit, but again, one can kvetch it.) i agree, there are greater questions about the tzavaah, such as not marring one's niece and not marrying someone who has the name of a parent, both which appear to be against explicit gemaras. (other reasons are that he only intended it for descendants, etc., some of which appear intended to cover for R' Yehuda Hachasid.)



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