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Shiur #24: Eiruv Tavshilin (Part 2)

  • Rav Moshe Taragin
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Talmudic Methodology
Yeshivat Har Etzion

 Shiur #24: Eiruv Tavshilin (Part 2)

By Rav Moshe Taragin



The previous shiur addressed the mitzva of eiruv tavshilin and outlined three different approaches toward understanding its mechanism.  These different attitudes would impact the source of the mitzva, as well as the question of proximity - how close to chag must the eiruv be set. 


The Rosh (Beitza 16b) introduces a requirement to eiruv which may reflect Rabbi Eliezer's logic that eiruv launches a cooking process BEFORE chag that can be culminated during chag.  The mishna had already recorded a dispute between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel regarding the amount of dishes to be prepared for eiruv tavshilin.  Beit Shammai demanded two, whereas Beit Hillel sufficed with one. 


The Rosh cites Rabbenu Tam's opinion that although we rule according to Beit Hillel that one dish is sufficient, the eiruv must consist of both ONE baked item as well as ONE cooked item.  This interpretation of the dispute between Beit Shammai and Hillel certainly does not reflect the simple reading of the mishna, and seems unnecessary if eiruv is merely a symbolic process preserving the sanctity of Shabbat or preventing confusion about cooking on chag.  If, however, Rabbi Eliezer is correct, and eiruv begins a process which is continued on chag, we may endorse the Rabbenu Tam's stringency.  Since cooking and baking are very different processes, each must be launched prior to chag to be continued during chag.  The initial baking cannot permit a continued cooking on chag. 


An additional issue may surround an eiruv which suddenly vanished.  The gemara in Beitza (18a) describes this scenario and rules that one may complete his preparations even though the eiruv no longer exists (for example, someone ate it).  The Rosh questions whether someone may begin NEW preparations or only complete the preparations begun with an eiruv still intact.  Presumably, this question would be dependent upon the mechanism or the eiruv.  If the eiruv protects the excitement of Shabbat - as Rava suggested - its vanishing should not impair continued preparations.  According to Rav Ashi, the absence of a tangible eiruv may impede further cooking since preparations without the symbol of an eiruv may confuse people into permitting GENERAL cooking on chag.  According to Rabbi Elazar, initial launching of cooking may conceivably be continued in the absence of the original eiruv since the person isn’t commencing cooking but rather "picking up where he left off."  Theoretically, a different view of Rebbi Eliezer’s position may be adopted. If the notion of continuity is based upon the actual food and not the person cooking, the vanishing of the eiruv may be problematic.  The Rosh's uncertainty may be based upon the model of eiruv he chooses, or alternatively upon his attitude toward Rabbi Eliezer's model. 


An interesting comment by the Mordechai (Beitza, siman 672) probes the sweep of eiruv tavshilin.  Does the eiruv also permit the continuation of general activities in preparation for Shabbat unrelated to cooking and food preparation?  For example, is eiruv tavshilin necessary to allow lighting candles for Shabbat?  We indeed mention general preparations in the text recited while implementing an eiruv.  If the eiruv protects the integrity of chag and prevents confusion about preparing on chag for routine days (Rav Ashi's opinion), we may extend the language and the sweep to include all forms of preparation.  If, by contrast, Rabbi Eliezer is correct and eiruv launches COOKING which is CONTINUED on chag, the mechanism of eiruv may be incompatible with non-cooking activities.  Cooking may be continued on chag, but can lighting candles be "launched" prior to chag and continued during chag?


A fascinating gemara questions the type of food which may be employed for eiruv.  Must primary food be designated, or can one use even neglected food?  For example, can food remaining on pots after cooking be employed for an eiruv (presumably without even removing the food and installing it as an eiruv)?  Conceivably, as a symbol to announce either the integrity of chag or the importance of Shabbat, an unnoticed or substandard food may not be used.  Alternatively, if the eiruv is meant to launch the cooking process, any part of that process may form the foundation of the eiruv. 


Perhaps sensing the challenge of using leftover food pots for an eiruv meant to symbolize and announce certain messages, the Or Zarua reinterpreted the gemara.  Only if a person predetermines that leftover food upon pots will be designated for eiruv may it actually be employed for eiruv.  If the food was not pre-designated and was casually left over, it may not serve as eiruv.  One can explain that the Or Zarua believed that eiruv is symbolic and must include intentionally prepared items.