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Shabbos 13


QUESTION: The Gemara (end of 12b) says that although one may read the "Roshei Parshiyos" (chapter headings) by the light of a flame on Shabbos (because one is familiar with them by heart and does not need to look intently into the books, Rashi), he may not read the entire chapter (because that requires more concentration and we are afraid that one may inadvertently tilt the lamp). The Gemara challenges this from a Beraisa which states that the schoolchildren used to study the Torah portion by the light of a flame. Why did the Gemara ask from a Beraisa, when our Mishnah also says that children used to study by the light of a flame? (This question is only according to Rashi's first explanation of the Mishnah on 11a, that the Mishnah refers to the *children* reading.)


(a) TOSFOS (DH Meisivei) answers that our Mishnah could be referring to children who were *wrongly* reading by the light of a flame. Therefore, the Gemara could not ask from our Mishnah that reading by the light of a flame is permitted, because the children mentioned in our Mishnah were doing so improperly.

(b) The RASHBA explains that the case in the Mishnah refers to when the children are reading in front of their Rebbi. Since the fear of their Rebbi is upon them, they will not make any movement, much less tilt the lamp, without their Rebbi's express permission. The Beraisa is talking about children who are reading when their Rebbi is not present, and therefore the Gemara asks that we see from the Beraisa that it is permitted to read by the light of a flame. The Gemara answers that even though their Rebbi is not present, they still sit in fear of him and therefore there is no concern that they will tilt the lamp.

(c) The RITVA and VILNA GA'ON answer that the Mishnah is talking about when the Rebbi is reading with his students, and therefore they are like two people reading together. The Gemara earlier said that two people may read together by the light of a flame because they will guard each other from tilting the lamp. The Beraisa, though, is talking about when the Rebbi is not reading with the students.

(d) RAV NISIM GA'ON, in the name of the Yerushalmi, cites another answer for the Gemara's question from the Beraisa. The Yerushalmi answers that the case in the Beraisa is different; children are permitted to study by the light of a flame because we have no fear that they will tilt the lamp, because they *want* the flame to go out (and tilting the lamp lengthens the time that it burns) so that they can stop learning and go play! It could be, then, that our Gemara understood our Mishnah to be referring to such children who would never dream of lengthening the time that they have to sit and study, which is why they are permitted to read to the light of a candle. However, the Beraisa is talking about children who are "preparing their studies for the following day," in which case we do fear that they will tilt the lamp in order to make sure that they do not run out of time to finish what they need to study. (M. Kornfeld)


QUESTION: In the account (cited from Tana d'Vei Eliyahu) of the young scholar who died as a result of his improper conduct with his wife when she was a Nidah, the wife of that scholar said that during the days of Libun he ate and drank with her and slept in the same bed with her. Eliyahu exclaimed that he deserved to die, because the Torah prohibits such close contact between a man and his wife when she is a Nidah.

Is eating and drinking with one's wife when she is a Nidah prohibited? If not, why did the Gemara record that they ate and drank together? ANSWERS:

(a) TOSFOS (DH Bimei Libunech) says that the Gemara records that they ate together for no special reason, but only because that is what they happened to do. Eliyahu's exclamation was only in response to the fact that they slept together. There is nothing wrong with eating and drinking with one's wife when she is a Nidah.

(b) The ROSH (1:32) says that their eating and drinking together was indeed inappropriate, because back then they used to eat at a single small table, and eating together at such a small table was an intimate activity. The Rosh adds that even today, when we eat at large tables, it is best to place a reminder between them. (The HAGAHOS ASHIRI writes that if they usually eat from one plate, then they should eat from two plates, and no further reminder is necessary. Perhaps the young scholar and his wife ate from one plate, which was improper.)

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 195:3) rules like the Rosh (and many other Rishonim), that one may not eat at the same table with one's wife who is a Nidah unless they place an object between them (that is not normally placed there on the table), or their plates are placed on separate tablemats. The REMA cites the Hagahos Ashiri and rules like him, that if a husband and wife normally eat together from one plate, then when she is a Nidah they may eat from two separate plates without any further reminder. The SHACH cites a BACH who adds that besides eating from separate plates, they must also have other members of the household sitting at their table.
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