THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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ERUVIN 88 & 89 have been dedicated by Mrs. G. Turkel (Rabbi Kornfeld's
grandmother) to the memory of her husband, Yisrael Shimon (Isi) ha'Levi
Turkel, who passed away on 10 Av 5780.
1) HALACHAH: POURING WASTE WATER INTO A PIT OR PIPE
The Mishnah and Gemara discuss the laws of an Ukah (pit) and a Biv (pipe)
with regard to water disposal and describe how one may pour waste water
into his Chatzer on Shabbos. How do these laws apply today with regard to
pouring water on Shabbos into the drain of a sink, or using any other
modern means of waste water disposal on Shabbos (such as flushing a
The Mishnah differentiates between two different means of water disposal:
(1) pouring water into one's Chatzer and letting it overflow into Reshus
ha'Rabim (the Ukah), and (2) pouring it into a pipe (Biv) which brings the
water directly to Reshus ha'Rabim.
(1) THE UKAH -- If the area of a Chatzer is 16 square Amos or larger,
whether it is rectangular in shape (long and narrow) or square, it is
permitted to pour out water into the Chatzer, because the Chatzer is large
enough that the water will be absorbed into the ground before it flows out
into Reshus ha'Rabim. If the Chatzer is smaller than 16 square Amos, and
cannot absorb the full Se'asayim of water that a person tends to use every
day, a pit must be dug to accomodate the remaining water.
HALACHAH: The RAMBAM rules stringently, in accordance with the Chachamim,
that one may pour water near the Biv but not into it. Others, though, rule
leniently, and the MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 357:21) is lenient as well and
permits pouring water directly into the Biv.
This pit is only necessary in the summer season, when people prevent their
Chatzeros from getting wet and muddy. Without a pit, a person does not
want the water to stay in the Chatzer and make it muddy, and therefore he
is pleased that it flows out into Reshus ha'Rabim, therefore it is
prohibited to pour water in the Chatzer. In the winter, though, no matter
how small the Chatzer is, one may pour as much water as he wants into it,
even without a pit to receive it (like the ruling of Abaye). He does not
care whether the water stays in the Chatzer or flows out, because the
Chatzer is already muddy from the winter rains.
(2) THE BIV -- Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov says that one may pour water
directly into a Biv (pipe) as long as it is at least four Amos long. The
Chachamim say that one may not pour water directly into a Biv because it
will come out into Reshus ha'Rabim with such force that people will think
he is standing right next to Reshus ha'Rabim and pouring it directly into
Reshus ha'Rabim (which, of course, is forbidden). Rather, the Chachamim
maintain that one may pour the water only near the Biv but not into it.
However, Rashi (88a DH Lo Yishpoch) writes that the Biv, too, must be
broad enough to absorb Se'asayim of water (i.e., 4 x 4 Amos, and not just
4 Amosh long.)
However, the SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 357:2) rules, based on Rashi, that one may
only pour water into a pipe that goes into Reshus ha'Rabim only if the
pipe is made of an absorbent material. If so, one should not pour water
into metal or plastic pipes (such as the ones used in modern residential
drainage systems), whether one pours it directly into the pipe or only
near the pipe, if the pipe leads out into Reshus ha'Rabim. However, in OC
357:3, the Shulchan Aruch writes that it is only forbidden if the outlet
of the water opens to an actual Reshus ha'Rabim or a large public street
(Karmelis) in the city. If it opens into a valley, sea, or any other
Karmelis *outside* the city, it is permitted to pour water into that pipe.
Since modern sewage systems lead to a Karmelis outside of the city, it is
permitted to pour water down the drain, even directly, on Shabbos.