THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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ERUVIN 4 - dedicated to the memory of Sarah Dvosya bas Rav
Mordechai (Feldman) of Milwaukee by her children.
1) THE "MIZBE'ACH" AND THE FIVE-TEFACH "AMAH"
OPINIONS: According to Rebbi Meir (see 4b), there are only four instances in
which the Amah of five Tefachim (as opposed to the six-Tefach Amah) is used.
These four instances are the base (Yesod) of the Mizbe'ach, the raised
walkway around the Mizbe'ach (Sovev), the four cornerpieces on the top of
the Mizbe'ach (Keren), and the incense altar (Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav). (See
The verse says that the width of the Keren is a "Zeres." How large is a
"Zeres" and in what respect does it describe the Keren?
(a) RASHI (on Chumash) says that a Zeres is a half an Amah. Rashi in our
Sugya explains that the verse that says that the Keren was measured with the
five-Tefach Amah refers to both the height and the width of the Keren (i.e.
it was 5 x 5 Tefachim). Accordingly, it must be that there was also a large
Zeres and a small Zeres, the large Zeres being half of a large Amah (three
Tefachim) and the small Zeres being half of a small Amah (two and a half
Tefachim). The verse means that from the middle of the Keren to its edge,
was a *small* Zeres.
RAV GEDALIAH RABINOWITZ Ztz"l (of Manchester, author of 'Gidulei Hekdesh')
explained as follows. The RA'AVAD (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 2:7) is bothered
by the measurements our Sugya presents for the parts of the Mizbe'ach. If
the Yesod and Sovev were only 5 Tefachim each, the Mizbe'ach, which is 32x32
Amos at its base, is not 28 by 28 Amos at the outside of the Keranos, as the
Mishnah says (Midos 3:1, see Menachos 97b). It is only 28 Amos and 4
Tefachim by 28 Amos and 4 Tefachim (since the base and the walkway each were
measured in five-Tefachim Amos, and the rest of the Mizbe'ach was measured
with six-Tefach Amos)!
(b) The RAMBAM (Beis ha'Bechirah 2:7) explains that the verse refers only to
the *height* of the Keren, but its width was measured with the normal six-
Tefach Amah. Thus, the Keren was six Tefachim wide and five Tefachim high.
The distance from the center of the Keren to its edge was half of a normal
6-Tefach Amah, which is one Zeres (three Tefachim). According to this
understanding, there is no need to assert that there existed a large and a
(c) TOSFOS (21a) cites Rebbi Elazar ha'Kalir who says that a Zeres is a
third of an Amah (two Tefachim). According to this definition, in what way
was the Zeres related to the width of the Keren?
The Ra'avad suggests that perhaps each Keren was situated two Tefachim from
the edge, and not exactly at the edge; thus the outside of the Keren was
indeed 26 by 26 Amos. Perhaps this, too, is what the verse cited in our
Gemara means when it says, "From the side [of the Mizbe'ach] until the edge
[of the Keren] was one Zeres," meaning two Tefachim! (-Heard from his son,
Rav Mordechai, shlita).
2) "RUBO U'MAKPID CHOTZETZ"
OPINIONS: Rebbi Yitzchak says that mid'Oraisa, if the majority of a person
body is covered by an intervening substance, and that person would prefer
that the substance would not be on him or her, it serves as a Chatzitzah and
invalidates the person's Tevilah. If the substance covers only a small part
of the person, or if it covers most of the person but the person does not
care about it, then mid'Oraisa the Tevilah is valid. The Rabanan, though,
decreed that in all of these cases the Tevilah is invalid.
To what kind of Chatzitzah is the Gemara referring?
(a) RASHI (DH Rubo) explains that the Torah law refers only to one's *hair*.
That is, if most of one's *hair* has an intervening substance which disturbs
the person, then mid'Oraisa the Tevilah is invalid. If the intervening
substance is on one's *body*, even if it covers only a small part of the
body the Tevilah is invalid mid'Oraisa.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Davar Torah) and other Rishonim explain that the Torah law
refers to most of one's *body*. Thus, only if a majority of one's body is
covered by the intervening substance will the Tevilah be invalid mid'Oraisa.
Even if it covers *all* of one's hair, the Tevilah is valid mid'Oraisa.
(c) The RITVA explains that perhaps Rashi agrees with Tosfos, that "Rubo"
applies to the body as well. Rashi, however, means to rule in accordance
with the Ge'onim, who maintain that we measure the proportion of the hair
that is covered and the proportion of the body that is covered individually.
If most of the hair is covered, even though the rest of the body is not, it
will still be considered a Chatzitzah mid'Oraisa.