1) "AMIRAH L'NOCHRI SHEVUS" -- TELLING A NOCHRI TO DO MELACHAH ON SHABBOS
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that on Shabbos one may not tell his friend to hire workers for him. The Gemara says that the Mishnah does not refer to a Jewish friend, because it goes without saying that one may not tell a Jew to do work for him on Shabbos. Rather, the Mishnah refers to a non-Jewish friend. (For a discussion of the prohibition of Amirah l'Nochri, see Insights to Bava Kama 80:3.)
The Gemara asks that we already know that Amirah l'Nochri is forbidden because of Shevus (Shevus refers to actions that the Rabanan prohibited on Shabbos). Why does the Mishnah need to teach it again? RASHI explains that the Mishnah earlier (121a) already teaches that Amirah l'Nochri is forbidden when it says that one may not tell a Nochri to extinguish a fire on Shabbos.
What is the Gemara's question? The law of the Mishnah earlier is not comparable to the law of the Mishnah here. The Mishnah earlier says that one may not tell a Nochri to do an act which is forbidden mid'Oraisa (such as extinguishing a fire). We cannot derive from that law that one may not tell a Nochri to do an act which is only prohibited mid'Rabanan. Accordingly, the teaching of the Mishnah here is necessary! (Tosfos (121a, DH Ein Omrim Lo) explicitly says that the only source for the prohibition against telling a Nochri to do an Isur d'Rabanan is from this Mishnah.) (REBBI AKIVA EIGER, SEFAS EMES, YA'AVETZ, and others)
(a) The YA'AVETZ explains that it is Asur mid'Oraisa to tell a Nochri to do an act that is Asur mid'Oraisa for a Jew to do on Shabbos; Amirah l'Nochri in such a case is not merely Asur mid'Rabanan (see TOSFOS DH v'Dibur). It is logical to assume that to tell a Nochri to do an Isur d'Rabanan should be forbidden mid'Rabanan, and it is not necessary for the Mishnah to tell us this. (See also Rebbi Akiva Eiger.)
(b) The CHASAM SOFER cites the RAMBAN (Vayikra 23:24) who says that it is forbidden mid'Oraisa to treat Shabbos like a weekday, as we learn from the term "Shabason." This term commands us to rest on Shabbos and not to treat the day like a normal weekday. Telling a Nochri to hire a worker is a weekday activity and thus is prohibited by the Torah to do on Shabbos.
(c) Perhaps the Gemara does not mean to ask that we already know that Amirah l'Nochri is prohibited. Rather, the Gemara means to ask that if the Mishnah's intention is to teach that this type of Amirah l'Nochri is prohibited, then this law should have been included in the earlier Mishnah (121a) which discusses what one may tell a Nochri to do on Shabbos. This may be what Rashi means as well. (M. KORNFELD)
(d) The SHITAH L'RAN quotes an opinion that presents a different understanding of the Sugya, which the SEFAS EMES also discusses. When the Gemara asks that Amirah l'Nochri is prohibited because of Shevus, it means that telling a Nochri to do an Isur d'Oraisa is prohibited. Telling him to do an Isur d'Rabanan, such as hiring a worker, should be permitted. The Gemara asks why the Mishnah prohibits such a form of Amirah l'Nochri.
2) THE CHASID WHO WANTED TO FIX HIS FENCE ON SHABBOS
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that there was a certain Chasid (see following Insight) who wanted to fix a breach in his fence on Shabbos. He remembered that it was Shabbos and refrained from fixing his fence. Hash-m rewarded him with a Tzelaf plant that grew in the place of the breach and provided sustenance for him and his family.
What was so great about this Chasid's act of refraining from accidental desecration of Shabbos that merited such a miracle as reward?
ANSWER: The YERUSHALMI (Shabbos 5:3) relates that the Chasid thought on Shabbos about fixing the fence after Shabbos. Thinking about such a thing on Shabbos is permissible, as the Gemara here teaches. However, since he was a Chasid, he regretted thinking, on Shabbos, about doing a Melachah after Shabbos. He decided not to act on his thoughts and never to fix his fence. As reward for his concern for the honor of Shabbos, Hash-m fixed the breach by making a Tzelaf plant grow there.
The Yerushalmi's explanation provides a basis for a deeper understanding of the identity of this Chasid.
According to the RAMA MI'PANO (Sefer ha'Gilgulim), this Chasid bore the soul of Tzelofchad.
It appears that this Chasid rectified the sin of Chilul Shabbos with which Tzelofchad had tainted his soul. The Gemara earlier in Shabbos (96b) relates that Tzelofchad was the "Mekoshesh" described in the Torah who was killed for desecrating Shabbos. His act involved either plucking or gathering twigs from the ground, or carrying them more than four Amos in Reshus ha'Rabim (see Gemara there). All of these acts are involved in repairing a fence. The Chasid rectified the sin of Tzelofchad by deciding never to fix the fence because he had thought about fixing it on Shabbos.
His reward was a Tzelaf plant, or a "Tzelaf Chad" (a sharp, thorned Tzelaf). The Tzelaf provides three types of edible fruit (as Rashi describes in Berachos 37a). These three types of fruit may correspond to the three portions in Eretz Yisrael that Tzelofchad passed on to his daughters (his own, his rights to his father's portion, and his Bechorah rights to his father's portion; see Bava Basra 116b).
3) DOING MELACHAH BEFORE HAVDALAH
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that a person may not do Melachah before he recites Havdalah on Motza'i Shabbos. What is the reason for this Halachah?
(a) RASHI explains that Melachah is prohibited before Havdalah because one must first do an act that represents escorting the Shabbos out. The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN adds that the Rabanan wanted to make a sign to show that Shabbos has ended.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 29:5) says that one is prohibited to "eat, do work, or taste anything" before he recited Havdalah. The BRISKER RAV (stenograph) infers from the fact that the Rambam places working between eating and tasting that all three of those activities are prohibited for the same reason. A person may not eat because he is obligated first to fulfill the Mitzvah of Havdalah that is incumbent upon him to perform. Similarly, a person may not do Melachah because it will distract him from his obligation to recite Havdalah.
The Brisker Rav adds that there are a number of Halachic differences between the explanations of the Rambam and of Rashi.
1. The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 299:10) says that a person may not do any Melachah before Havdalah. The REMA says in the name of RABEINU YERUCHAM that one may do Melachah, but one may not do "Melachah Gemurah" (a "total," very involved Melachah) before Havdalah.
The Brisker Rav explains that the Shulchan Aruch follows the explanation of Rashi, who says that one may not do Melachah before he makes a sign that Shabbos has ended. Rabeinu Yerucham, in contrast, agrees with the Rambam, who says that one may not do Melachah because it will distract him from the Mitzvah of Havdalah that he is obligated to do. Only an involved Melachah (such as sewing) will distract him, and therefore he may do a Melachah which does not distract him (such as kindling a flame) before Havdalah.
2. There is an argument whether one who says "ha'Mavdil Bein Kodesh l'Chol" may both do Melachah and eat, or whether he may only do Melachah (since he has not yet recited the full Havdalah). According to the RIF in Pesachim (104a), a person who says "ha'Mavdil..." may not only do Melachah, but he may eat as well before Havdalah. The RAN there argues and says that when one says "ha'Mavdil..." he is permitted only to perform Melachah before Havdalah.
The Brisker Rav explains that the Rif agrees with the Rambam; since eating and doing Melachah are prohibited for the same reason, whatever permits one will also permit the other. The Ran, on the other hand, agrees with Rashi, who says that eating and doing Melachah before Havdalah are prohibited for two separate reasons (Melachah is prohibited because it is necessary to show that Shabbos has ended, and eating is prohibited because one is obligated to do the Mitzvah of Havdalah). Therefore, saying "ha'Mavdil" is a sufficient indication that Shabbos has ended and it permits Melachah to be done. It cannot permit eating, though, because the Mitzvah to recite Havdalah is still incumbent upon the person.