Hilkhot Shabbat – melacha she-eina tzricha l’gufa

November 16, 2010

In this shiur we worked through some of the basic sugyot dealing with the elusive and some times slippery concept of melacha she-eina tzricha l’gufa. We began with a process of triage in an attempt to drill down to a sugya that isolates our concept.  We noted that in a sugya in which the debate between R. Yehuda and R. Shimon is quoted to answer an apparent contradiction, we will not find definitions.  The gemara is there bringing the concept and assuming that we know what it means (see 105b, tearing in anger and 11b, the zav with his pouch).

In addition there are several sugyot in which the concept of mekalkel is lurking behind the position of R. Yehuda. All the gemarot that deal with digging the hole for the dirt (hagiga 10a/b, shabbat 73b & beitza 8a) can be read as really about mekalkel (as Rashi and Rabbenu Channanel in fact do).  The sugya on shabbat 31b that deals with extinguishing the fire for the sake of the:lamp, the wick or the oil also ultimately shifts into the question of destructive activity based on Rashi’s read of Ulla.

The headquarters of this concept seems to be located on 93a/b dealing with the question of carrying out a:corpse, sefer torah or a hoe.  Here we have key amoraim attempting to define the cases in which R. Shimon would and would not apply the heter.  R. Yochanan and R. Lakish make it clear that when the carrying is done for the sake of the object (cheftza) R. Shimon would still be lenient.  Rava states that when the carrying is done for the sake of the person (gavra) that R. Shimon would be machmir.  It remains unclear as to what R. Yochanan and Reish Lakish would say in Rava’s case.

The Gemara then takes the concept that is developed in the sugya on 94a/b and applies to many different cases (107b – catching snakes, popping pimples; 121b, catching dangerous animals).  Then on 42a we learn that Shmuel splits his psak between eino mitkavein and melacha she-eina tzricha l’gufa – he is meikel like R. Shimon in eino mitkavein and machmir like R. Yehuda in melacha she-eina tzricha l’gufa.  This position of Shmuel seems to be the source for the pask of the Rambam in these two areas as well.

We then looked at Rashi, Ramban and Tosafot regarding their definitions of the concept.  Rashi has two components to his definition that may or may not be related – that the activity is for removal and that the melacha is a coping mechanism.  Ramban removes the coping aspect of the definition and limits it to productive acticity.  Both Rashi and Ramban seem to read the words of R. Shimon is a more limited fashion (Rashba, Ritva and Ran all read like Ramban, while the Ba’al ha-Maor takes it even further).  Tosafot, by introducing the mishkan as the “guf” of every melacha adds an additional layer to the conversation.

There are three mekorot sheets that I created:

The first is simply a list of the key sugyot along with Rashi (link).

The second presents the main Rishonim (link).

The third presented some summary charts on these sugyot (link).

Melacha she-eina tzricha l’gufa

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Hilkhot Shabbat – Eino Mitkaven Psik Reisha

November 16, 2010

The following shiurim represent the development of the ideas of eino mitkavei, psik reisha and lo nicha lei.  We began first outside of the area of Hilkhot Shabbat to show the force of intent (Nazir, Kilayim).  The fundamental conceptual question that we kept returning to was what is the nature of the ptur of eino mitkavein and how does psik reisha impact that process.  We based our discussion on the framework outline by Reb Elchanan Wasserman (see below for a brief summary).

I did not try to articulate a clear position of the Rambam.  While Reb Chaim (and the Brisker tradition) take it for granted that the Rambam held like the Aruch, the Hazon Ish was not convinced.  I am not sure that it is possible to ascertain exactly what the position of the Rambam was.  He seemed to pasken locally without ever articulating a principle regarding psik reisha d’lo nicha leih.

I am still not settled regarding the bottom line of how we pasken in a case that eino mitkaven psik reisha d’lo nicha on a drabanan. While the Rema, Magen Avraham, Rebbi Akiva Eiger, Gra and Shevitat haShabat all seem to be machmir, there are conflicting indication in the Mishna Berura, Shemirat Shabbat and Rav Ovadia.  In a terrific essay Rabbi Willig seems to be totally meikel in this case against the what appears to be the weight of Ashkenazi achronim.

I am putting six sets of mekorot as well as the five audio files of the shiurim that I gave on these topics.

  1. Sources for general introduction to Eino Mitkavein (link).
  2. Sources for general introduction to Psik Reisha (link).
  3. Sources for Psak of Tosafot and Aruch.  We worked off of the Tosafot in Shabbat 103 and not Yoma 34b/35a (link).
  4. A summary of Reb Elchanan’s Hakira regarding the heter of Psik Reisha (ki-mitkavein vs. tziruf maasim) (link).
  5. A chart that summarizes the psak of the Shulchan Aruch along with Magen Avraham and Taz, as well as Mishna Berura and Aruch ha-Shulchan in key cases (link).
  6. Though I did not  give shiur dealing directly with these mekorot, this is the material for Safek Psik Reisha (From Taz to Rav David Tzi Hoffman) (link).

Eino Mitkavein Psik Reisha – Conceptual Intro
Psik Reisha Psak – Aruch and Tosafot – #1
Psik Reisha Psak – Aruch and Tosafot – #2
Psik Reisha Lmaaseh – Shulchan Aruch
Psik Reisha Lmaaseh – Clarifying Lo Nicha Lei and Drabanan


Shabbat 21a – Hannukah Candles – Kavta Zakuk La

September 15, 2010

In this shiur we analyzed the opening sugya of the Hannukah material as it appears in the second chapter of Masechet Shabbat.  The first issue that the gemara addresses is the permissability of oils and wicks on Hannukah that may not be used on Shabbat.  The gemara gives us three positions:

1) Rav Huna – those oils that may not be used on Shabbat may never be used on Hannukah

2)Rav Hisda – those oils that may not be used on Shabbat can be used on Hannukah only during the week and not during the shabbat(ot) of Hannukah.

3) Rav – those oils that may not be used on Shabbat can be used through out all of Hannnukah.

Rava then proceeds to provide the conceptual framework for these three approaches.  We began by noting that there is no fourth shitta recorded which permits lighting with the sub-par oils and wicks on Shabbat and forbids during the week.  One of the goals of the shiur was to provide an explanation as to why that fourth approach is simply illogical or untenable.

The shittot were analyzed through the lens of Tosafot’s question – if Rav Huna holds that one is required to relight an extinguished flame (kavta zakuk la) isn’t that sufficient to prohibit usage on weekdays and Shabbat.  How, asked Tosafot, does Rava know that Rav Huna also holds that we are permitted to benefit from their light (mutar lihishtamesh l’orah).  This same question was asked by Ramban (and Rashba).  As is their way – Tosafot gives a structural answer and Ramban a conceptual answer.

The mekorot (Gemara and Rishonim) can be found at this link.

Kavta Zakuk La – Tosfot Ramban