1) A DOORSTEP IN FRONT OF A "MAVOY"
QUESTION: The Gemara says that the doorstep of a Mavoy that has an area of four by four Tefachim is not considered to be part of the Mavoy (for the purpose of carrying while walking along the doorstep, or carrying from the doorstep into the Mavoy). RASHI (DH Tzarich Lechi) explains that in the Mavoy itself, one is permitted to carry because of the Lechi that is standing at the opening of the Mavoy along the side of the doorstep. The permissible carrying area is limited to within the Lechi's inner edge, which is at the inner side of the doorstep; therefore, the doorstep is not included in the Lechi's function.
The Gemara then entertains the possibility that on a doorstep less than four by four Tefachim wide, one might be permitted to carry. In the case of such a small area, one is permitted to carry anywhere within the outer edge of the Lechi. Rashi (DH v'Chi Teima d'Leis Bei) explains that if the doorstep is less than four by four, then there is no need for a real Lechi, because the very walls of the entranceway serve as the Lechi for the doorstep area and permit one to carry from the doorstep to the Mavoy (DOORSTEP AND MAVOY diagram follows).
(DIAGRAM IS BEST VIEWED IN COURIER 10PT. FONT)
STEP WALL CONSIDERED TO BE "LECHI"
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Why does Rashi introduce the concept of the walls serving as a Lechi now? He should have mentioned it at the beginning of the Sugya, when the Gemara assumed that the doorstep was four by four Tefachim. Rashi should have said there that the wall is the Lechi and the inner side of the wall cannot serve to permit the doorstep! (MAHARSHAL, MAHARSHA)
(a) The MAHARSHAL explains that when Rashi says that there was a Lechi on the doorstep whose inner side is the limit for the carrying-area inside the Mavoy, Rashi does not mean that there was an independent "Lechi." Rather, Rashi is referring to the wall adjacent to the doorstep when he mentions "Lechi." He called it a "Lechi" because it performs the same function as a Lechi, as Rashi says later.
(b) Perhaps Rashi's intention is to first show that not only does the inner side of a wall permit carrying only from its inner edge and inward, but a full-fledged Lechi also serves to permit carrying only from its inner edge and inward. Afterwards, when the Gemara suggests that carrying on a doorstep less than four by four Tefachim will be permitted by the outer edge of a Lechi, Rashi emphasizes that even the outer edge of a wall will also permit the doorstep. (M. KORNFELD)
2) SUMMARY: THE DOORSTEP THAT SERVES TWO DOMAINS
OPINIONS: In the Beraisa (6a), Acherim say that a doorstep "serves two domains." When the door of Reshus ha'Yachid is open, it is part of Reshus ha'Yachid. When the door is closed, it is part of Reshus ha'Rabim. The Gemara inquires as to the situation in which this statement applies. When does the status of a doorstep depend on whether the door is open or closed?
The Gemara suggests two answers that are based on the same premise: the doorstep is considered Reshus ha'Yachid only when it fulfills one of two conditions: 1. It is covered by a roof with an area of four by four Tefachim (the edge of such a roof is considered to descend and serve as a fourth wall, while the door and the lintels serve as the other three walls, making the doorstep under it a Reshus ha'Yachid). 2. A roof beam ("Korah") of a Mavoy is on top of the doorstep (this gives the doorstep the status of Reshus ha'Yachid due to the special enactment of the Rabanan that a roof beam serves as either a reminder that this is the extent of Reshus ha'Yachid, or because of "Yored v'Sosem" -- the roof beam's edge descends to act as a fourth wall to make the enclosed area a Reshus ha'Yachid).
If it is the doorstep of a house, it is considered part of the inside of the house when it has a roof which is four by four Tefachim. If it is the doorstep of a Mavoy, it is considered part of the inside of the Mavoy if it has either a four-by-four roof or a Korah on top of it.
(a) Rebbi Yehudah in the name of Rav says that Acherim are talking about a doorstep of a Mavoy which has a roof beam on top of it. The roof beam is only one Tefach wide, and it is located on the inner side of the doorstep (that is, closer to the door). When the door is open, the roof beam serves to enclose the part of the doorstep that is underneath it (as in #2 above). When the door is closed, the roof beam cannot be viewed as enclosing the part of the doorstep underneath it, because the roof beam is no longer associated with the Mavoy. A roof beam makes whatever is underneath it into a Reshus ha'Yachid only when it is associated with a Mavoy (this was part of the Rabanan's enactment).
(b) Rav Ashi explains that Acherim are talking about the doorstep of a house. Above the doorstep is a roof made of two beams. Each of the two beams by itself is less than four by four Tefachim, but together they cover an area of at least four by four Tefachim. The gap between the two beams is less than three Tefachim. When the door is open, the concept of Lavud takes effect and the two beams are viewed as one large beam, and that large beam encloses the entire four by four Tefachim underneath it (as in #1 above). When the door is closed, the door dissociates the outer beam from the inner beam, and the outer beam is left enclosing an area of less than four by four Tefachim. Therefore, it is not able to create an outer (fourth) Mechitzah for the doorstep, and the doorstep is considered part of Reshus ha'Rabim.
(If the roof of the doorstep had been just one large roof beam, then closing the door at the middle would not have been able to dissociate the outer part of the doorstep from the inner part, and the doorstep would still be a Reshus ha'Yachid.)
3) GOING TO A BARBER BEFORE MINCHAH
QUESTION: The Mishnah states, "A person should not go to barber close to Minchah time before he prays. A person should not enter a bathhouse, nor enter to tan hides, nor to eat, nor to judge." Why does the Mishnah include going to a barber in an entirely separate statement from all of the other activities that should not be done close to Minchah time? The Mishnah should include them all in one statement!
(a) RASHI explains that the law of this Mishnah is cited in Maseches Shabbos, even though it does not involve the laws of Shabbos, because it is similar to the law of the following Mishnah (11a), which says that a tailor should not walk out on Friday near sundown with his needle, lest he forget and carry his needle on Shabbos and transgress the Melachah of Hotza'ah. The Mishnah here says that, similarly, a person should not become involved in certain activities shortly before Minchah, lest he forget to pray Minchah.
In all of the cases of the Mishnah except for the first (going to a barber), the fear is that the person may forget to pray because he is involved in another act which distracts him from Minchah. In contrast, when a person sits in front of a barber, he is passive. He is not physically involved in any act. Nevertheless, we are still concerned that he might forget about Minchah. Logically, going to a barber most closely resembles the case of the following Mishnah, because there, too, the tailor is not involved in any particular act that will distract him and cause him to forget and carry his needle on Shabbos.
Since the case of the barber is similar in nature to the case of the next Mishnah, it is the case of the barber that is the reason for recording this Mishnah here. Therefore, it is given special status and mentioned separately from the other cases in the Mishnah. (Rashi alludes to this when he explains, with regard to going to a barber, that "perhaps one will forget and not pray," while with regard to the other activities Rashi writes, "The reason for all of them is that perhaps one will get so involved in them that he will forget....") (Y. SHAW)
(b) The RASHASH suggests another reason for why this Mishnah is included in Maseches Shabbos. This Mishnah indeed is related to the preparations required for Shabbos, since one is supposed to get a haircut before Shabbos (see SHULCHAN ARUCH OC 260). According to his suggestion, it is appropriate that going to a barber is given special status in the Mishnah, since it is the sole reason for including this Mishnah in Maseches Shabbos. (The bathhouse that is mentioned in the Mishnah does not refer to the obligation to wash oneself before Shabbos. Rather, it refers to a much more involved process of bathing, like a spa, which is not done in preparation for Shabbos.)
4) HALACHAH: EATING BEFORE MINCHAH
OPINIONS: The Mishnah teaches that one may not begin a meal close to Minchah time. In practice, when is a person allowed to eat before Minchah?
(a) The RIF and the RAMBAM rule like the second answer of the Gemara (Rav Acha bar Yakov), that even a normal meal is prohibited from right before Minchah Gedolah and onward (this is the most stringent opinion).
(b) TOSFOS and the ROSH explain that the Halachah follows the first answer of the Gemara, because it was Rav Ashi, the redactor of the Gemara, who said it. Therefore, it is prohibited only to start a large meal before Minchah Gedolah. A normal meal, however, is permitted. Before Minchah Ketanah, even a normal meal is prohibited (in accordance with the opinion of Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi).
(c) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR writes that since the Gemara in Berachos (28b) teaches that the Halachah does not follow Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi, the question of the Gemara does not apply in practice. Consequently, the original assumption of the Gemara remains; the Mishnah prohibits only starting the activities that it mentions before Minchah Ketanah. It is therefore permitted to start even a large meal before Minchah Gedolah, but it is prohibited before Minchah Ketanah.
(d) The TUR cites RABEINU YEHUDAH (in the name of his Rebbi) who maintains that only a large meal is prohibited, but it is prohibited before both Minchah Gedolah and Minchah Ketanah. A normal meal is permitted, because the Halachah is not in accordance with Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 232) cites the opinion of the Rif and the Rambam, the most stringent opinion. The REMA mentions the other three opinions.
The MISHNAH BERURAH writes that we may follow the lenient element of any of the opinions (because the prohibition is only mid'Rabanan). Therefore, the practice is to permit starting a large meal before Minchah Gedolah, and a normal meal before Minchah Ketanah, and to refrain only from starting a large meal before Minchah Ketanah. The KAF HA'CHAYIM rules that even Sefardim may rely on this lenient practice, because nowadays we have a set time for Minchah and that prevents us from forgetting to pray.
However, the BI'UR HALACHAH adds that it is "Midas Chasidus" (a trait of righteousness) to be stringent, but only to the extent of Tosfos' stringency (b); it is not necessary to be as stringent as the Rambam's opinion (a). The Kaf Ha'Chaim, however, maintains that it is "Midas Chasidus" to be stringent even like the Rambam's opinion.