QUESTION: The Mishnah says that a woman may not go out with an un-holed needle. The Gemara explains the Mishnah in two stages, in which it asks two questions: First, it asks, "For what is this un-holed needle used?" (The Gemara answers that it is used for parting her hair.) Second, it asks, "For what is the un-holed needle used on Shabbos?"
Why does the Gemara repeat its question? Why does the answer that the Gemara gives for the first question (that the needle is used for parting her hair) not answer the second question?
(a) RASHI explains the difference between the two questions as follows. The Gemara first asks why an un-holed needle is considered a part of her clothing and not something that she carries. The Gemara answers that since she parts her hair with it, it is considered part of her clothing. The Gemara then asks that on Shabbos, when she cannot part her hair with it, why is it considered part of her clothing? The Gemara answers that on Shabbos it is worn as an ornament, with the gold plate at its tip displayed prominently.
(b) TOSFOS (DH l'Mai Chazya) asks several questions on Rashi's explanation. First, why does the use of the needle to part her hair make the needle into a piece of her clothing? Even if she could part her hair with it on Shabbos, it would not be considered a piece of her clothing or an ornament. It is simply stuck into the hair so that it should be available to the woman at all times, and thus she is carrying it in her hair! Second, why is one prohibited to part her hair on Shabbos? (It cannot be prohibited because of the possibility that she may pull out hair. Such an act would be no more than a Davar she'Eino Miskaven, akin to combing the hair of a Nazir, which Rebbi Shimon (50b) permits.)
Tosfos therefore suggests that the two questions of the Gemara are as follows. The Gemara first asks a general question: what does a woman generally do with an un-holed needle? Second, once we know that it is generally used to part her hair, why is the needle considered an ornament, or a piece of clothing, and not just something that she is carrying? (Tosfos understands the second question in the same way that Rashi understands the first question.)
In defense of Rashi, we may suggest that Rashi understands that the needle, after being used to part her hair, was then pinned into the hair to keep it parted. Therefore, it is appropriately considered an ornament, because by being there it makes her hair look nice. This answers Tosfos' first question.
Second, the Gemara later (95a) says that a woman may not braid her hair on Shabbos because braiding is considered an act of Binyan (building). Accordingly, pinning-up her hair is also considered Binyan and therefore it is prohibited on Shabbos. This answers Tosfos' second question. (M. KORNFELD)
QUESTION: The Mishnah says that one is prohibited to wear a "Sandal ha'Mesumar" (a shoe with spikes; see Graphic) on Shabbos. The Gemara explains why the Rabanan enacted such a prohibition. It relates that several tragedies occurred whereby many Jews inadvertently killed each other. What do these tragedies have to do with a Sandal ha'Mesumar?
(a) RASHI explains that the cause of death was that they trampled each other with their Sandalim ha'Mesumarim, which had thick nails protruding from their soles.
(b) According to TOSFOS (DH v'Sham'u) and other Rishonim, the Sandal ha'Mesumar was the cause of the stampede in the first place. In the first incident, it was a Sandal ha'Mesumar that was reversed that caused everyone in the cave to panic at the thought that someone may have walked out of the cave and been spotted by the Romans. In the second and third incidents, it was the noise of a Sandal ha'Mesumar's nails clanging against the ground that caused the Jews to panic at the thought that a Roman had found their whereabouts and was approaching to kill them.


QUESTION: According to both explanations for why the Rabanan prohibited wearing the Sandal ha'Mesumar (see previous Insight), why did they prohibit it only on Shabbos and Yom Tov? Although the Gemara says that the tragic incidents that involved a Sandal ha'Mesumar occurred on Shabbos, the tragedies themselves were unrelated to Shabbos (and they could have happened any day of the week). The tragedies occurred simply as a result of the Jews' flight from the Romans. What is the logical connection between the tragedies and Shabbos?
(a) The ME'IRI explains that the Rabanan wanted to prevent the joy of Shabbos and Yom Tov from being compromised if people were to be reminded of the tragedies that occurred on those days. Therefore, they prohibited wearing the Sandal ha'Mesumar on Shabbos and Yom Tov, the days on which the tragedy happened, so that people would not be reminded of it and be saddened.
(b) The Rabanan were concerned of a recurrence of those tragedies. Therefore, on days when Jews gather together because they cannot work (Rashi DH Ika) -- which closely resembles the circumstances in which the tragedies occurred -- the Rabanan prohibited wearing the Sandal ha'Mesumar. On other days of public gathering, such as a fast day, since people gather together to pray (that is, they gather for a positive reason and not a negative reason), the Rabanan assume that they will be engrossed in their prayer and no tragedy will occur. (M. KORNFELD)