Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Two Types of Mixtures -- עירוב חצירות and בין השמשות

Most of us at least give lip service to wanting to live a life free of contradictions.  In fact, there is a very strong style of proof in mathematics called "Proof by contradiction", where one asserts that the thing he wants to prove is actually false and then shows that such an assertion leads to a logical contradiction, thus proving the assertion much be false; ie, that his original proposition is true.

None the less, the practicalities of living often force us into contradictory situation.  For example, this afternoon I plan to daven mincha right before sundown and ma'ariv immediately afterwards.  I am allowed to daven mincha up till nightfall according to the majority opinion of Chazal, and I am allowed to daven ma'ariv as early as פלג המנחה (an hour and a quarter  or so before nightfall) according to R' Yehuda.  Those two opinions are contradictory (according to R' Yehuda I am not allowed to daven mincha after פלג המנחה and according to the majority opinion I am not allowed to daven ma'ariv before nightfall).  Since it is hard to get a minyan together, though, Chazal allowed this תרתי דסתרי/oxymoron.

בין השמשות is by nature a period of confusion/contradiction; it could be day or it could be night.  There are three opinions about how that works.  One opinion is that בין השמשות is the last part of the previous/exiting day, one opinion is that בין השמשות is the beginning of the next/entering night, and the final opinion is that day switches to night as some instant during בין השמשות.

עירוב חצירות is another kind of mixing -- it is mixing domains, which is does buy creating forging a partnership between the affected parties.  Since it is a sort of business deal, it needs to be completed before the onset of Shabbos.  In order that the business deal service Shabbos, the עירוב itself (ie, the bread or matzah) needs to remain intact (at least a mouthful or so) for some part of Shabbos.  Taken together, that means that to stay out of all uncertainty, the עירוב חצירות needs to be established before בין השמשות and the עירוב itself needs to remain intact until (at least) after בין השמשות.  However, since it is very important to create an עירוב חצירות wherever possible (siman 395), Chazal were content as long as either the עירוב חצירות was established before בין השמשות or the עירוב itself was intact until (at least) after בין השמשות.

In fact, imagine one person, we'll call him Avi, who is acting as an agent (get it, Avi and agent both start with "a") to set up an עירוב חצירות for each of two parties: Earl and Donald.  Avi sets up Earl's first (early... get it?)  before בין השמשות.  By the time Avi goes back to get Donald's עירוב, he is delayed (Delayed/Donald... I am so clever) past בין השמשות.  Worse, he looks back and sees that now a cat (they are always trouble) has gotten into Earl's עירוב and eaten it all up.  No problem.  True, Earl's עירוב was eaten during בין השמשות, but it was established before בין השמשות; so good to go.  Donald's עירוב, which was not actually established until בין השמשות, however, remained intact till passed בין השמשות.  Even though there was only one agent, since he has acting for two different parties, each is allowed to apply the leniency that is relevant to his situation.

Chazal did not, however, allow a person to set down his עירוב and then eat it; claiming that when he set it down he had in mind that בין השמשות should be considered as day, but when he ate it he had in mind that בין השמשות should be considered as night.  Obviously the rules are not arbitrary and that sort of behavior is just derisive of the whole process.

It's things like this that make me chuckle when non-Orthodox complain that we have so many restrictions... Good grief, we have nothing but a world of leniencies!

Comments

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: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…