For the week ending 7 May 2005 / 28 Nisan 5765

Shabbat 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Forbidden carrying - When two do it
  • Public and private domains
  • Status of the outstretched hand
  • Minor sin to prevent major one
  • Throwing from one domain to another
  • Third and fourth categories of domain
  • Atonement for Shabbat violation
  • When a house is not a private domain
  • A pole in the street

A Question of Order

Why does this mesechta concerning what is forbidden on Shabbat begin with the laws of carrying from one domain to another?

This is a question posed by the Tosefotists who argue that it would seem to be more logical to present the forbidden activities in the chronological order of when they are likely to take place in the time-frame of Shabbat. First should have come those things that are forbidden to initiate before the sunset of Erev Shabbat and only afterwards progress to the activities which take place on Shabbat itself.

The answer put forth by Rabbeinu Tam is that the order of the mesechta is based on the frequency of the activities rather than on their chronological order. Carrying on Shabbat from one domain to another is far more common than the other forbidden activities discussed later in this mesechta. He cites two examples of places in the Talmud where such an order was employed. One is Bava Kama where the mesechta begins with a mention of the damages done by an ox (Shmot 22:5) even though the damage done by digging a pit in the public domain (Shmot 21:33) is mentioned earlier.

Another example is in Mesechta Berachot (54b) where the gemara lists the four types of people who are obligated to offer a thanksgiving sacrifice for surviving danger in a different order than how they are mentioned in Tehillim 107 which is the source for this obligation. There too the order chosen was based on which experience is most common. The order which appears in Tehillim, on the other hand, is based on the degree of danger which faced each of the four types.

What the Sages Say

How can we ask one Jew to commit a sin even a minor one in order to save another Jew from being guilty of a major one?

Rabbi Sheishet

  • Shabbat 4a

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