Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: A Detail of When Throwing an Object On Shabbos is Assur M'D'Oraisa

I have a (relatively) new chavrusa; a 19 year old college student.  Very bright, ffb, but not yeshivish.  I learn with him a couple of nights a week.  I think I am helping him learn, I know he is helping me.  We are mostly learning Bava Kama, but he is also learning Shabbos.  I've learned both of these gemaras. Which is to say that I remember having opened those masechtos before.  Once in a while I even remember the sugya.  One of the biggest ma'alos of my chavrusa is that he is stubborn (in a nice way) about accepting my explanation if it doesn't quite sound right; which is often, so I he gets to exercise his stubbornness (always with a smile) often.

Take last night, for example.  At the bottom of daf 5A in Shabbos:
Ba'ei R' Yochanan, zarak cheifetz v'ne'ekar hu mimkomo v'chazar v'kiblo; mahu?
The problem is the work "chazar"; which means "returned".  One might, therefore, be tempted to understand the case is that he threw the object, ran away from his spot, then ran back to where he started.  That, however, doesn't make sense; there is no question he is patur (even mutar l'chatchila) in that case.  Art Scroll translates this as:
R' Yochanan asked, one throws an object and leaves his place and runs to catch it; what is the halacha?
The bold face is how Art Scroll inidcates that the English words are a translation, the plain text is an added elucidation; usually to make it read the way Rashi understands.  The trouble here is that Rashi is silent.  It surely looks like they didn't translate "chazar", doesn't it?  So I said, the word "chazar" can also mean to go after.  My chavrusa said, "Really?  But none of my friend's three Aramaic dictionaries say that...."  (Great, now he's bringing facts into the discussion.) So, after some thinking (always a good idea, I should do it earlier and more often) I came up with, "It means that he returned to his object; he had thrown it away and had to return to it."  Sounded good enough for us to move on.  Whew.

But I still had nagging doubts.  I looked around a little.  Baruch HaShem for M'soras HaShas that led me to the Rambam, Chapter 13 of Hilchos Shabbos, halacha 15.  (Interestingly, neither the Shulchan Aruch nor the Sefer Mitzvos G'dolos seems to bring this gemara l'halacha.):
One throws an object and then the thrower himself runs after the object and catches (lit, "receives in his hand") the object in a different domain or more than four amos is exempt, just as if he was catching an object that someone else had thrown.  Why?  Because it is not called a complete coming to rest unless it came to rest in the place it was destined to land at the time of the initial throwing.
Perhaps, then, the gemara used the word "chazar" to emphasize that the object was not considered to have come to rest, but is considered the same as if it had returned the the thrower even though he didn't move.

It's still assur m'd'rabanan, so don't try this at home.  Oh wait... I mean only try this at home; with your mother's permission, of course.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…