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Thought for the Day: When ספק דרבנן לקולא Doesn't Work

ספק דרבנן לקולא does not mean, G-d Forbid, that we take Rabbinic decrees lightly, nor does it mean that ignorance can be covered up by saying, "oh well... I guess I am in doubt and ספק דרבנן לקולא, so let's go for it!"  However, when you have investigated the situation and are left with a real ספק on a דרבנן it is really, really the halacha that you go to the lenient side.  Moreover, regarding עירובים, in any machlokes in the gemara the halacha accord to the side being lenient.  I found it interesting and surprising, therefore, that there is a case with עירובי תחומין that leads to needing to be stringent on all sides.

I have already mentioned the following problem:
Here's a really cool problem:  Suppose someone mistakenly thought he could establish one תחום for Friday night and another for Shabbos day (he wants to hear two different shiurim on different sides of his תחום).  This is a mistake, so (at least) one of the עירובים is not effective; but which one?  ... Therefore he is stuck at home.
Hang on, there, quick's draw, since at least one eiruv is effective, let's be lenient and let him choose.  No and no.  The halacha is that we must apply both leniencies; one leniency says he can go to the east, the other to the west.  As in all cases where halachic demands pull in different directions, we need to take a position that steers clear of all conflict.  In this case, that leaves him only at home.  R' Akiva Eiger (who speaks that out) says this is different than the case where his עירוב might have been destroyed during twilight, where he gets to retains his planned תחום because of ספק דרבנן לקולא.  That is, we don't restrict him to stay in the subset of the תחום covered by both his home and his עירוב, which seems analogous to the our situation with the two עירובים in opposite directions.  In the case of the one עירוב that might have burned up, R' Eiger explains, he definitely took his mind off the side of the תחום from his house away from the עירוב; therefore losing that is not a stringency -- it is, rather the very leniency he was seeking from the beginning.

The Aruch HaShulchan has another insight into why he loses the תחום of his house in this case and compares it to a case where he placed his עירוב outside his תחום  (ie, more that 2000 cubits from his home).  In the case of the עירוב outside his תחום, the עירוב also can't be effective, but in that case he gets to keep his original תחום; why don't we say he lost that as above?  In the case of placing the עירוב outside his תחום, if we told him his mistake then he would certainly want to remain home.  On the other hand, if we told him he is mistaken to think he can have multiple עירובים for different epochs of his Shabbos, he has no one that clearly was intended to the exclusion of all others.

Bottom line: whether or not ספק דרבנן לקולא  is a good idea, it is the law.


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