THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) SENDING MAIL BEFORE SHABBOS
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that one may not send a letter with a non-Jew on
Friday that he will deliver on Shabbos, because it will appear that the
non-Jew is doing a Melachah for the Jew. However, if, before the non-Jew
leaves with the letter, one arranges to give him a payment for his
services, then he one may give him a letter to deliver even though he may
deliver it on Shabbos. Alternatively, if there is enough time for the
non-Jew to reach the house closest to the boundary of the city (according
to Beis Hillel) to which the letter is being sent, one may send it with the
non-Jew on Friday.
2) HALACHAH: EMBARKING ON A JOURNEY BEFORE SHABBOS
The Gemara, however, says that there is a difference between whether there
is a "Davar" in the city or not.
What is a "Davar," and why does a "Davar" make a difference whether one may
send a letter with a non-Jew? Furthermore, why does this unique condition
exist only with regard to sending letters, and it was not stated with
regard to any of the other acts that a non-Jew might do for a Jew on
Shabbos (such as delivering utensils to another place)?
(a) RASHI explains that a "Davar" is a person to whom the letter is
addressed (literally, it refers to an important person in the city, to whom
one usually sends letters). If the addressee is not known to be in the
town, then a Jew may not send a letter with a gentile even if he will reach
the house closest to the edge of town before Shabbos. The reason is because
if the addressee is out of the city, then the non-Jew never reached the
house closest to the edge of the addressee's actual whereabouts. If the
non-Jew will continue traveling on Shabbos with the letter in order to
deliver it to the addressee, it will look as though he is doing Melachah
for the Jew on Shabbos.
What is the difference between sending a letter with a non-Jew and sending
a pot or utensils to someone on Friday with a non-Jew (or sending hides to
a non-Jew for processing)? With regard to those other items, the Halachah
is that if one pays the non-Jew, then one may send the item before Shabbos.
If one does not pay him, then he may only send the item if there is enough
time to reach the destination (or to process the hides) before Shabbos
arrives. There is no other condition like there is with sending a letter
(i.e. the "Davar" or addressee must be known to be in the city).
The answer is that we are not concerned that something will delay the
non-Jew from performing his mission on Friday, so that he would have to do
it on Shabbos -- except when it comes to delivering mail. If the letter is
found in the non-Jewish delivery boy's hands on Shabbos, it will be clear
to all that the letter was sent by a Jew, since it is written in his
handwriting. A pot, on the other hand, has no recognizable feature that
would reveal who owns it, and therefore even if the non-Jew ends up
delivering it on Shabbos, we are not so concerned that it will be
immediately apparent that the job is being done for a Jew. (MAGEN AVRAHAM,
cited by MISHNAH BERURAH 247:1).
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 6:20; according to the first explanation of
the Kesef Mishnah) explains that if the "Davar" is not known to be in the
city (and the Jew did not offer payment to the non-Jew) then the non-Jew
may not bring the letter even if he is able to reach the house closest to
the boundary before Shabbos (like Rashi). The Rambam, though, explains
"Davar" to mean the official mail-courier, and he is in the *same* city as
the Jew who sends the letter. The non-Jew must be able to reach the
*farthest* house in *that town*, i.e. the one at the edge of the city from
which the mail was sent, because it is not known exactly where the mailman
lives. The non-Jew must have time to reach the farthest possible house, in
case that is where the mailman lives. When the mailman is not known to be
in town, then the non-Jew must have enough time to reach the addressee
himself (and not just the "Davar") before Shabbos in order for the Jew to
be permitted to send the letter.
Again, only with regard to a letter are we concerned that the mailman that
has to deliver it will not be in town. We are not concerned when sending
other items (because of the reasoning of the Magen Avraham, as cited
(c) RABEINU CHANANEL explains that a "Davar" is a mailman and that the
mailman is in the same city as the sender (like the Rambam explains).
However, Rabeinu Chananel says that when the mailman is *not* in the city,
it is permitted to send a letter with the non-Jew if there is enough time
for him to reach the house closest to the boundary of the city of the
addressee. If there *is* a mailman in town, then the letter may be sent
with the non-Jew even if he will *not be able reach* the house closest to
the boundary of the addressee's city before Shabbos. If there is a mailman
in town, one may give the letter to the non-Jew to deliver *immediately*
before Shabbos -- since the non-Jew is *already* within the borders of the
town of his destnation (since he is only bringing the letter to the
"Davar.") That is, according to Rabeinu Chananel *having* a mailman in the
city makes the Halachah more *lenient* (as opposed to the Halachah becoming
more *stringent* if there is *no* mailman in the city). (It seems that
Rabeinu Chananel had a different text in his Gemara, because his
explanation is very hard to read into the text of our Gemara -M. Kornfeld.)
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which states that one may not embark
on a sea voyage within three days prior to Shabbos. One may, however,
embark on such a journey if it is for the sake of accomplishing a Mitzvah.
At least five different reasons are presented by the Rishonim for this
prohibition (see MISHNAH BERURAH, introduction to OC 248):
3) BEIS SHAMAI "DECREED"
(a) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR explains that it is forbidden to embark on a sea
voyage before Shabbos because such travels are fraught with danger and one
may have to desecrate Shabbos for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh, saving his
life. Even though Piku'ach Nefesh overrides the laws of Shabbos,
nevertheless one may not purposefully enter a situation which may lead to
the necessity to desecrate Shabbos.
HALACHAH: Is it prohibited today to embarking within three days prior to
Shabbos on a ship (such as a cruise ship)?
(b) The RAMBAN (MILCHAMOS) argues with the Ba'al Ha'Me'or and maintains
that it is not forbidden to enter into a situation which may necessitate
desecrating Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh. Rather, the reason why one may not
embark on a journey prior to Shabbos is because the gentile captain will be
doing Melachah for the Jew on Shabbos when he ties up the sails etc.
(c) RABEINU CHANANEL writes that the Rabanan forbid traveling on a boat
during Shabbos because of the prohibition of Techumin, traveling beyond the
2000 cubit limit in any direction. (This decree applies only when the
bottom of the boat is within ten Tefachim of the surface of the ground
beneath the water. It is permitted to travel as far as one wants on Shabbos
if one remains more than 10 Tefachim off the ground while doing so.)
(d) The RIF says that the reason is because of the Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos,
experiencing pleasure on Shabbos, which one will lose when he goes on a sea
voyage (due to the swaying of the boat and the different climate at sea).
Embarking at least three days prior to Shabbos is permissible because it
takes three days to become accustomed to the swaying of the boat and the
bad air at sea.
(e) TOSFOS (DH Ein Mafligin) explains that traveling on a boat on Shabbos
is forbidden for the same reason that swimming is forbidden -- we fear that
one may make a flotation device.
It would seem that all of the above reasons (except for that of the Rabeinu
Chananel (c)) apply today, and it should therefore be prohibited to embark
on a sea voyage close to Shabbos.
QUESTION: The Mishnah (17b) says that Beis Shamai agrees with Beis Hillel
that on Friday, close to Shabbos, one may place the beams of the
olive-press and wine-press atop the crushed fruits in order for the juice
to be squeezed out on Shabbos. The Gemara asks why Beis Shamai "made a
decree" forbidding the other actions from being done on Friday, while he
did not decree that this one is forbidden.
Why does the Gemara say that Beis Shamai "made a decree" forbidding the
other activities, when the Gemara earlier (18a) said that those activities
are forbidden *mid'Oraisa* because of the obligation of Shevisas Kelim?
(a) The RITVA, based on TOSFOS (18a, DH Leima), answers that the Gemara
here is following the opinion of Rabah, who said earlier (18a) that it is
prohibited to put wheat in a watermill on Friday because it makes a loud
noise and is disrespectful to Shabbos. The other activities are prohibited
by Beis Shamai because we are concerned that one may do these activities on
Shabbos itself, and not because of Shevisas Kelim.
(b) The RITVA rejects this explanation and gives a second one. When the
Gemara says that they "made a decree," it does not mean that *Beis Shamai*
made a decree, but that the *Torah* made a decree (of Shevisas Kelim) to
prevent people from coming to a desecration of Shabbos. It is justified to
call an act that is forbidden by the Torah a "decree."
4) THE OIL OF THE OLIVE-PRESS WORKERS
OPINIONS: Rav and Shmuel argue whether the "oil of the olive-press workers"
is Muktzah on Shabbos. What is this "oil of the olive-press workers" that
they argue about?
(a) RASHI explains that it refers to the oil that is left in the cracks or
corners of the olive-press. This oil is usually given to the workers. Since
the owner of the press has no intention to take the oil for himself because
it is assumed that his workers will take it, it is Muktzah and may not be
moved on Shabbos.
(b) TOSFOS argues that just because the oil does not belong to the owner
(and he has no intention of taking it) it does not become Muktzah.
Tosfos explains that the oil that Rav and Shmuel argue about is the oil
that flows from olives that were placed under the press before Shabbos (in
our Mishnah). Since the oil was not accessible when Shabbos entered
(because it was underneath the heavy wooden press), when the oil flows out
from the press on Shabbos it is prohibited because of Nolad; that is, it is
considered something that came into existence on Shabbos.