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Eruvin 17

ERUVIN 16-20 - sponsored by a generous grant from an anonymous donor. Kollel Iyun Hadaf is indebted to him for his encouragement and support and prays that Hashem will repay him in kind.


OPINIONS: The Mishnah (17a) states that even for soldiers going out to battle, "Mayim Acharonim is obligatory." The Gemara goes on to explain the reason for the strict obligation of Mayim Acharonim. One might have some salt from the meal left on his fingers, and if he wipes his eyes with salty fingers he risks blinding himself with the Sedomis-salt that is contained in table salt.

Now that we do not have Sedomis-salt in our table salt, does the obligation to wash Mayim Acharonim still apply?

(a) The ROSH in Berachos (8:6), the RITVA, and other Rishonim write that in addition to the danger of Sedomis-salt, there is another reason for washing Mayim Acharonim. Before reciting the blessings of Birkas ha'Mazon, one should wash out of sanctity, as the Gemara states in Berachos (53b). Accordingly, even though we no longer have Sedomis-salt at our meals we should wash Mayim Acharonim to sanctify ourselves before reciting Birkas ha'Mazon.

(b) TOSFOS (DH Mayim Acharonim and in Berachos 53b, DH v'Hiyisem), however, says that it is no longer the practice to wash Mayim Acharonim since (1) we do not use Sedomis-salt and (2) it is not our practice to dip our fingers into salt and taste a little after eating a meal. Washing Mayim Acharonim was a measure of sanctity only when these two reasons existed, but not today.

(c) TOSFOS (in Berachos, ibid.) and the ROSH (ibid.) add mentions that even if one rules that since we are not accustomed to washing our hands after every meal and we do not consider our hands to be soiled, we do not need to wash them for Birkas ha'Mazon, nevertheless, one who minds leaving his hands slightly soiled from the meal *is* obligated to wash Mayim Acharonim for Birkas ha'Mazon. For him, it is indeed a measure of sanctity to wash after the meal.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 181:1) states "Mayim Acharonim is obligatory." The MISHNAH BERURAH (181:1) mentions the reasoning of the Rosh and the other Rishonim (a), that washing the hands is necessary in order to sanctify and purify them before reciting Birkas ha'Mazon. The Mishnah Berurah adds (from the Rambam) that even if the only reason for Mayim Acharonim is so that we don't blind ourselves with Sedomis salt, one should wash Mayim Acharonim since might have other salt that has the same characteristics of Sedomis-salt.

However, at the end of the Halachos of Mayim Acharonim, the SHULCHAN ARUCH (181:10) cites the opinion of Tosfos (b) who says that the obligation of Mayim Acharonim no longer applies. He adds, though, that one who always washes his hands and is concerned about even a little dirt on his hands is obligated to wash Mayim Acharonim before reciting Birkas ha'Mazon, as Tosfos in Berachos (c) rules.

The MISHNAH BERURAH there (181:22) cites the VILNA GA'ON, MAGEN AVRAHAM, MAHARSHAL, and BIRKEI YOSEF, all of whom strongly maintain that Mayim Acharonim is still obligatory (even if one's hands are not dirty), like the first opinion (a).

In practice, some follow the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch in OC 181:1, and others follow the opinion of Tosfos as cited in Shulchan Aruch 181:10. Those who maintain that Mayim Acharonim is obligatory should wash their entire hands with at least a Revi'is of water on each hand (BI'UR HALACHAH 181:4, DH Ad Perek; see also TESHUVOS V'HANHAGOS 1:173).

QUESTION: The Mishnah describes how the area around a well in Reshus ha'Rabim can be enclosed in order to make it into a Reshus ha'Yachid to permit drawing water from the well on Shabbos. Four corner pieces, each made up of two perpendicular boards (which are each one Amah long and ten Tefachim high), are placed at four corners around the well forming a frame of a square area. This area is considered to be enclosed by virtue of the corner boards which are viewed as forming Mechitzos around the area. The space between the boards on each side can be up to 10 Amos according to Rebbi Meir, or 13 1/3 Amos according to Rebbi Yehudah. A plank may be placed in the open gap in order to increase the length of each side.

(a) How can this permit carrying the water into the enclosed area? The Gemara said earlier (15b) that Hashem taught Moshe that in order to have a properly enclosed Reshus ha'Rabim, the amount of breached area must not exceed the amount of fenced area. Here, though, the amount of breached area between the corner pieces is certainly more than the amount of fenced area (the corner pieces themselves)!

(b) Similarly, there is a problem of "Asi Avira d'Hai Gisa v'Hai Gisa": since the open airspace on each side of the plank in the middle is greater than the width of the plank, the plank is viewed to be non-existent. Why, then, is it permitted to extend the length of the Pasei Bira'os merely by placing a plank of one Amah in the middle of each side?

(a) TOSFOS (DH Osin and DH v'Arba'ah) answers that Mid'Oraisa, any area surrounded by one-Amah wide planks on each side is considered to be an "entranceway," rather than a breach. Only when there are open breaches, do we rule that the amount of breached area must not exceed the amount of fenced area. Entranceways (i.e., areas with a full Tzuras ha'Pesach on the d'Rabanan level, Eruvin 11a, or with a one Amah post on each side on a d'Oraisa level), no matter how wide they may be, do not invalidate a Mechitzah.

(b) "Asi Avira d'Hai Gisa" does not invalidate the corner pieces around the well since it is only a Rabbinic invention. Mid'Oraisa, open spaces on each side of a Mechitzah cannot invalidate it. (This certainly is the case when the Mechitzah forms an entranceway, such as when there are one Amah wide posts on either side of an open space.) For the benefit of the Olei Regalim the Rabanan were lenient and they only necessitated satisfying the d'Oraisa requirements. As long as the area inside the planks is a Reshus ha'Yachid mid'Oraisa, they permitted drawing water for the animal and putting the bucket of water between the planks for the animal to drink.

OPINIONS: The Rabanan permitted making a Mechitzah with the bare minimum dimensions in order for the Olei Regalim to be able to feed their animals from the public wells. Does this Halachah apply nowadays? Is it possible to make an area into a Reshus ha'Yachid in such a manner?
(a) The Gemara (21a) explains that outside of Eretz Yisrael and Bavel it is not permitted to use Pasei Bira'os because "there are not many Yeshivos" in Chutz la'Aretz. Rashi explains that since there were not many Talmidim traveling from one place to another to learn Torah, the Rabanan did not permit erecting Pasei Bira'os. They only permitted Pasei Bira'os for the Olei Regalim or those traveling for a Devar Mitzvah.

It would seem that Pasei Bira'os were not allowed in Chutz la'Aretz only because there are no Yeshivos in Chutz la'Aretz. But if people *are* going from Yeshiva to Yeshivah in Chutz la'Aretz, or to any other Devar Mitzvah, it seems that it would be permitted to make Pasei Bira'os. This is indeed the opinion of the RITVA, RASHBA, and OR ZARUA (cited by the Hagahos Ashiri).

(b) The RAMBAM, RIF, and ROSH do not mention any of the Halachos of Pasei Bira'os. It seems that they rule that one may *not* make Pasei Bira'os nowadays. When the Gemara says that it is not permitted in Chutz la'Aretz because there are no Yeshivos there, it means that when the Rabanan initially permitted the construction of Pasei Bira'os, they did not permit it in Chutz la'Aretz because there were no people traveling to and from Yeshivos. The original enactment did not apply to Chutz la'Aretz, and no matter what happens in later times the Rabanan did not make a new enactment to permit Pasei Bira'os outside of Eretz Yisrael. This also seems to be the ruling of the SHULCHAN ARUCH, who omits all of the Halachos of Pasei Bira'os.

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