THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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ERUVIN 3 - dedicated to the memory of Sarah Dvosya bas Rav
Mordechai (Feldman) of Milwaukee by her children.
1) HALACHAH: "AMALTERA" (DECORATIVE BEAM)
 NESTS OR BEAMS?
OPINIONS: The Mishnah (2a) teaches that in order to permit carrying in a
Mavoy, the Korah at the top must not be higher than 20 Amos, because people
will not see it there and it will fail to serve its purpose of reminding
people that they are in a Mavoy. A Beraisa states that if there is an
"Amaltera" on the Korah, then the Korah may be higher than 20 Amos, since it
attracts attention. According to Rav, another Beraisa (2b) argues and
maintains that an Amaltera does not permit the Korah to be higher than 20
Amos, while according to Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak, the Beraisas do not
argue, and both agrees that an Amaltera permits the Korah to be higher than
 WHAT MAKES CEDAR BEAMS UNIQUE?
The Gemara gives two opinions concerning what an Amaltera is. According to
one opinion, it is a decorative beam adorned with carved figures of birds'
nests. According to another opinion, it is comprised of long strips of cedar
wood. According to the first opinion, only decorations of birds' nests
constitute an Amaltera, since they are very decorative and eye-catching.
According to the second opinion, strips of cedar wood catch the eye as well,
since they are longer than normal beams. What is the Halachic ruling?
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 17:15) rules that the Amaltera must be very
decorative, such as birds' nests. (The DARCHEI MOSHE OC 363 HAGAHOS ASHIRI,
who explains that any unusual design on the Korah which attracts the
attention of bypassers also constitutes an Amaltera.)
(b) However, the RASHBA, TUR (OC 363) and SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 363:26) rule in
accordance with the second opinion, that cedar beams also constitute an
Amaltera. (It should be noted, however, that the BACH understands the TUR to
be ruling like the Rambam, claiming that the Beis Yosef's understanding of
the Tur is based on an typographical error.)
How must cedar beams be placed to allow a Korah to be placed above 20 Amos?
(a) RASHI says that long cedar beams which protrude from the wall (of the
Ulam or the entrance to a Mavoy) are very noticeable. That is, they serve to
remind people that they are nearing the entrance to the Mavoy even if they
are placed above 20 Amos.
From Rashi's words it seems that the cedar beams extended from one wall to
the opposite wall of the Mavoy, like a normal Korah. If so, how could people
standing inside the Mavoy notice that they were exceedingly long? Even if
they extended straight through the walls and protruded from the other side,
people in the Mavoy could not see how long they were!
Perhaps Rashi means that cedar beams which stretch from one side of a Mavoy
to the other are longer than the usual cedar beam, and therefore they
attract the attention of bypassers.
Alternatively, perhaps Rashi means that the cedar beams extended *outwards*
from the *ends* of the Mavoy walls, in addition to a Korah which was placed
atop the walls. People would notice the protruding cedar beams no matter how
high they were, and their attention would thus be drawn to the Korah which
marked the end of the Mavoy.
(b) RABEINU YEHONASAN explains that the cedar beams were *decorated with
drawings*, and they extended across the Mavoy. Since they were of such
precious wood, and since they had designs on them, they attracted the
attention of bypassers.
2) DIFFERENT TYPE OF "AMOS"
OPINIONS: Abaye and Rava argue regarding the size of the Amah used for
various Halachos. Abaye says that some dimensions are measured with an Amah
which is five Tefachim long, while others are measured with a six-Tefach
Amah. Whichever Amah will result in the most stringent measure is the one
which is used for that particular measure.
Rava, on the other hand, maintains that all measures use the six-Tefach
Amah. The stringency is reflected by using either an Amah "Sochekes" or an
Amah "Otzeves." The RASHBA (Avodas ha'Kodesh 1:3:5) explains that the
difference between an Amah Sochekes and an Amah Otzeves is half of a
fingerbreadth (Etzba). (There are four Etzba'os in a Tefach, and thus there
are 24 Etzba'os in an Amah. Since the difference between the Amah Sochekes
and the Amah Otzeves is half of an Etzba, the Amah Sochekes is 1/48th longer
than the Amah Otzeves.) The Rishonim explain that the Rashba's source is the
Gemara in Pesachim (86b) which mentions an Amah which is half an Etzba
longer than the normal Amah.
There is disagreement among the Rishonim, however, exactly how to apply the
stringency of using an Amah Sochekes or Otzeves according to Rava.
(a) The RASHBA (in Chidushei ha'Rashba) says that according to Rava, the
laws of Sukah, Mavoy, and Kil'ayim each use only one type of Amah. Sukah
uses only the Amah Otzeves, even with regard to the minimum length of a wall
(even though using the Amah Otzeves results in a leniency there). Mavoy,
too, uses only the Amah Otzeves, even with regard to the minimum length of a
wall. Kil'ayim uses only the Amah Sochekes, even for measuring the distance
between rows of grapevines for the Halachah of "Ritzufin." This also may be
the opinion of Rashi (end of 3b and top of 4a).
The Rashba explains that this can be inferred from the fact that the Gemara
does not ask the same questions on the opinion of Rava as it asks on the
opinion of Abaye. This indicates that Rava maintains that the standard used
for all measures in each category follow the majority (Rov) of measures in
that category. Abaye, on the other hand, does not follow the majority of
measures of each category, but rather applies whatever Amah is more
stringent, because he maintains that mid'Oraisa the Amah is six Tefachim
long, and the Rabanan devised the five-Tefach Amah as a stringency (where
How can Rava allow a person to be lenient with regard to Mitzvos of the
Torah? Apparently, he maintains that mid'Oraisa, the Amah is six Tefachim
long, but the Torah *left it up to the Rabanan* to decide whether the Amah
used for any particular measure is an Amah Sochekes or an Amah Otzeves.
(This concept is known as "Masrecha ha'Kasuv l'Chachamim." An example of its
application appears in Mo'ed Katan 18a.) Alternatively, Rava maintains that
the Torah allows for a *flexible range* of the Amah, including both the Amah
Sochekes and the Amah Otzeves. The Torah calls both of them "Amah." (M.
(b) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR and the RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 17:36), however,
argue with the Rashba. They rule in accordance with Rava, but they explain
that Rava means that with each Halachah we must use the more stringent Amah
(like Abaye says), either Sochekes or Otzeves, whichever is more stringent
in the particular application.