The Gemara states that R'Yochanan went out on Shabbos with a wad in his ear that was not tied. He was critisised for this by his collegues but the answer the Gemara gives is that it was wedged in tightly so it didn't have to be tied since there was no chance that it would fall out on Shabbos. I was just wondering how this avoided the ma'arit ayin problem that the Gemara discusssed on 64b - where the appearance of wrongdoing regarding Shabbos was a problem.
Thanks! Kol Tuv.
Marc Chipkin, Johannesburg, South Africa
The Maris Ayin problem at the bottom of 64b refers to a case where someone does something which is in fact permitted but people think he is doing some different, prohibited activity. Therefore we say he should not do it so as not to give a bad impression. MISHNAH above 60a states that one may not go out wearing the military shield, helmet or boots, even though these are actually genuine items of clothing and therefore should be permitted to wear in Reshus ha'Rabim. RASHI 64b DH KOL explains that the reason these are forbidden is so that the wearer should not be suspected of making war on Shabbos, which is prohibited.
In contrast, when R. Yochanan went out with the wad in his ear, there was no reason to suspect that he was going to do some different, prohibited activity with the wad. Rather the dispute concerned whether it was strongly enough attached to his body. Those who criticized him maintained that it might fall off and as a result he might come to carry it 4 Amos in Reshus ha'Rabim which is a d'Oraisa prohibition. However RASHI 65a DH HA writes that the wad was tightly pushed into his ear and would not fall out even though it was not tied. Therefore everyone could see that there was no worry that R. Yochanan might come to do a prohibition with the wad.