I am interested in knowing why Rashi inferred the issue of 600,000 in this gemara, and why it is opposed by so many other great poskim. If he was held to be mistaken? Why then is he not criticized for inadvertently being machshil Jews with his shita?!
If the issue of the Jews in the desert is open to ambiguity in this Gemara, why is he a minority opinion, yet all eruvs are based on his inference about the 600,000? Thanks.
David Goldman, USA
1) Tosfos (Eruvin 6a, end of DH Keitzad) writes that what we learn from the Mishkan is that the numbers given by the Torah represent a public road. The Meshech Chochmah (Parshas Vayakhel, 36:6) writes that Tosfos is referring to the verse in Parshas Beha'aloscha (11:31) where Moshe said, "The people are 600,000 on foot." One learns from this that the Torah considers it as a nation only when there is this number of people.
2) Tosfos there writes that Rabeinu Tam questioned Rashi from the Gemara in Shabbos 98a, which states that underneath the wagons in the Midbar was Reshus ha'Rabim. 600,000 people did not walk under the wagons!
3) When a Gadol ba'Torah issues his opinion on a Torah matter, l'Shem Shamayim, he is not considered as being Machshil others. He certainly has an answer to present to the challenges posed to his opinion.
4) It is not clear that Rashi is a minority opinion. The Bi'ur Halachah (OC 345:7, DH she'Ein) writes that the Behag, Semag, Semak, Sefer ha'Terumah, Rabeinu Meir, Roke'ach, Tosfos, Rosh, Or Zaru'a, Tur, and Rabeinu Yerucham also agree with Rashi on this matter. Even though the Bi'ur Halachah there cites many opinions who disagree with Rashi, nevertheless it is a very substantial dispute.
Kesivah v'Chasimah Tovah,
Thank you. Is there a reason why Rambam rejected this?
Also, aren't modern day domains complicated because cities today do not have doors and gates, and people move about in vehicles, cars , bushes, etc? Plus entire buildings and streets can be considered a reshus hayachid, so that really an eruv is only a chumra?
Does flying above ground mean something different in our generation in terms of tchum Shabbos? Or does tchum Shabbos only apply to movement on the ground and water and st certain speeds??
1) First, it should be pointed out that if a place is considered a Reshus ha'Rabim mid'Oraisa, it is not possible to make an Rruv. An Eruv is effective only for a domain which is not a public domain according to Torah law, but rather a Reshus ha'Rabim mid'Rabanan. Therefore, it is important to know what is a Reshus ha'Rabim mid'Oraisa, because -- for the latter -- an Eruv will never work. Rashi's opinion is a leniency because it means that, generally speaking, it is possible to make an Eruv for a place with less than 600,000 inhabitants.
2) The source for this is the Gemara in Eruvin, end of 6a, which asks rhetorically, "Is it possible to make an Eruv for Reshus ha'Rabim?" One sees from the continuation of the Sugya on 6b that the only way to make an Eruv for a Reshus ha'Rabim d'Oraisa is with "doors." This is recorded in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 364:2): "Reshus ha'Rabim itself can be made permitted only by doors." The Mishnah Berurah (#6) writes that a "Tzuras ha'Pesach" does not work. A Tsuras ha'Pesach is a pole on one side, a pole on the other side, and something on top connecting them. This is what our Eruvim are usually made of: a wire on top passing between two poles. As such, the standard Eruv is not effective for a Reshus ha'Rabim d'Oraisa, such as a city of 600,000 inhabitants according to Rashi. Therefore, our Eruvim are not a Chumra, but on the contrary, if there are 600,000 in town, the Eruv cannot be valid, generally speaking.
3) The Magid Mishneh, on the Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 14:1, writes that there is no hint in the Gemara for the idea that it is only considered a Reshus ha'Rabim if 600,000 pass through, so this opinion is not the primary one. Possibly, this is the reason why the Rambam rejected Rashi's opinion.
4) The Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 1:139), near the end of the Teshuvah (page 242, DH uMSh"K), cites an opinion that motor vehicles are considered a domain in their own right and therefore the people travelling in them do not combine to make up the 600,000 number. However, the Igros Moshe writes that this argument has no logical basis at all.
1) Now to deal with the question of buildings and streets being considered as Reshus ha'Yachid mid'Oraisa: The Chazon Ish (Orach Chaim 107(43):7) writes that in contemporary cities -- even the largest -- all streets are Reshus ha'Yachid mid'Oraisa. It must be stressed that mid'Rabanan it is certainly forbidden to carry in the cities, because the streets are Reshus ha'Rabim mid'Rabanan (a "Karmelis"). However, one very important difference if it is a Reshus ha'Rabim mid'Rabanan is that it is possible to make an Eruv there. Since the concept of Eruv is only a Rabbinical institution, it does not have the power to permit carrying in a Reshus ha'Rabim d'Oraisa, but in a Reshus ha'Rabim d'Rabanan it is possible to make an Eruv.
2) I will try to briefly outline the background for this ruling of the Chazon Ish. The Gemara in Eruvin 20a mentions the idea "d'Lo Asi Rabim u'Mevatlei Mechitzos" -- "the public walking through are not capable of abolishing the Halachic validity of partitions." Rebbi Yochanan and Rebbi Elazar both said that "Chazal informed of us of the strength of Mechitzos", that even though the public walk through the area, this does not abolish the partitions.
3) The question is how many partitions must there be before the public cannot invalidate them by walking through? The Chazon Ish (107:4) writes that the Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 17:3) maintains that if there are 4 partitions, even though they are incomplete, the public cannot abolish them. The Rambam discusses a "Mavuy Mefulash," which is simply a public passage between two opposite walls. The Rambam writes that if one puts a "Tzuras ha'Pesach" (a pole on each side of the passage and a metal wire on top) on one side of the Mavuy Mefulash, and a board standing up next to the wall on the other side, this permits carrying inside the Mavuy. In other words, if one has two real walls and two Halachic walls, one may carry inside the surrounded domain.
4) The Chazon Ish (107:5) continues that if the public cannot abolish 4 Halachic partitions, then they certainly cannot abolish 3 real walls, of which the solid content is more than the open space in the walls. Therefore, contemporary cities are not usually a Reshus ha'Rabim mid'Oraisa because there is no open road that goes from one end of the town to the other. At the end of one road (which itself is basically a row of buildings and therefore constitutes a Mechitzah with more solid than open), at some point there will be another road which blocks off the first road, and constitutes our third Mechitzah.
5) There is a question in the Gemara in Eruvin 45a if there is Techum Shabbos above 10 Tefachim (approximately 1 meter).