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Shabbos 19


OPINIONS: The Gemara says that one may not send a letter with a non-Jew on Friday that he will deliver on Shabbos, because it will appear that the non-Jew is doing a Melachah for the Jew. However, if, before the non-Jew leaves with the letter, one arranges to give him a payment for his services, then he one may give him a letter to deliver even though he may deliver it on Shabbos. Alternatively, if there is enough time for the non-Jew to reach the house closest to the boundary of the city (according to Beis Hillel) to which the letter is being sent, one may send it with the non-Jew on Friday.

The Gemara, however, says that there is a difference between whether there is a "Davar" in the city or not.

What is a "Davar," and why does a "Davar" make a difference whether one may send a letter with a non-Jew? Furthermore, why does this unique condition exist only with regard to sending letters, and it was not stated with regard to any of the other acts that a non-Jew might do for a Jew on Shabbos (such as delivering utensils to another place)?

(a) RASHI explains that a "Davar" is a person to whom the letter is addressed (literally, it refers to an important person in the city, to whom one usually sends letters). If the addressee is not known to be in the town, then a Jew may not send a letter with a gentile even if he will reach the house closest to the edge of town before Shabbos. The reason is because if the addressee is out of the city, then the non-Jew never reached the house closest to the edge of the addressee's actual whereabouts. If the non-Jew will continue traveling on Shabbos with the letter in order to deliver it to the addressee, it will look as though he is doing Melachah for the Jew on Shabbos.

What is the difference between sending a letter with a non-Jew and sending a pot or utensils to someone on Friday with a non-Jew (or sending hides to a non-Jew for processing)? With regard to those other items, the Halachah is that if one pays the non-Jew, then one may send the item before Shabbos. If one does not pay him, then he may only send the item if there is enough time to reach the destination (or to process the hides) before Shabbos arrives. There is no other condition like there is with sending a letter (i.e. the "Davar" or addressee must be known to be in the city).

The answer is that we are not concerned that something will delay the non-Jew from performing his mission on Friday, so that he would have to do it on Shabbos -- except when it comes to delivering mail. If the letter is found in the non-Jewish delivery boy's hands on Shabbos, it will be clear to all that the letter was sent by a Jew, since it is written in his handwriting. A pot, on the other hand, has no recognizable feature that would reveal who owns it, and therefore even if the non-Jew ends up delivering it on Shabbos, we are not so concerned that it will be immediately apparent that the job is being done for a Jew. (MAGEN AVRAHAM, cited by MISHNAH BERURAH 247:1).

(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 6:20; according to the first explanation of the Kesef Mishnah) explains that if the "Davar" is not known to be in the city (and the Jew did not offer payment to the non-Jew) then the non-Jew may not bring the letter even if he is able to reach the house closest to the boundary before Shabbos (like Rashi). The Rambam, though, explains "Davar" to mean the official mail-courier, and he is in the *same* city as the Jew who sends the letter. The non-Jew must be able to reach the *farthest* house in *that town*, i.e. the one at the edge of the city from which the mail was sent, because it is not known exactly where the mailman lives. The non-Jew must have time to reach the farthest possible house, in case that is where the mailman lives. When the mailman is not known to be in town, then the non-Jew must have enough time to reach the addressee himself (and not just the "Davar") before Shabbos in order for the Jew to be permitted to send the letter.

Again, only with regard to a letter are we concerned that the mailman that has to deliver it will not be in town. We are not concerned when sending other items (because of the reasoning of the Magen Avraham, as cited above).

(c) RABEINU CHANANEL explains that a "Davar" is a mailman and that the mailman is in the same city as the sender (like the Rambam explains). However, Rabeinu Chananel says that when the mailman is *not* in the city, it is permitted to send a letter with the non-Jew if there is enough time for him to reach the house closest to the boundary of the city of the addressee. If there *is* a mailman in town, then the letter may be sent with the non-Jew even if he will *not be able reach* the house closest to the boundary of the addressee's city before Shabbos. If there is a mailman in town, one may give the letter to the non-Jew to deliver *immediately* before Shabbos -- since the non-Jew is *already* within the borders of the town of his destnation (since he is only bringing the letter to the "Davar.") That is, according to Rabeinu Chananel *having* a mailman in the city makes the Halachah more *lenient* (as opposed to the Halachah becoming more *stringent* if there is *no* mailman in the city). (It seems that Rabeinu Chananel had a different text in his Gemara, because his explanation is very hard to read into the text of our Gemara -M. Kornfeld.)

OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which states that one may not embark on a sea voyage within three days prior to Shabbos. One may, however, embark on such a journey if it is for the sake of accomplishing a Mitzvah. At least five different reasons are presented by the Rishonim for this prohibition (see MISHNAH BERURAH, introduction to OC 248):
(a) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR explains that it is forbidden to embark on a sea voyage before Shabbos because such travels are fraught with danger and one may have to desecrate Shabbos for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh, saving his life. Even though Piku'ach Nefesh overrides the laws of Shabbos, nevertheless one may not purposefully enter a situation which may lead to the necessity to desecrate Shabbos.

(b) The RAMBAN (MILCHAMOS) argues with the Ba'al Ha'Me'or and maintains that it is not forbidden to enter into a situation which may necessitate desecrating Shabbos for Piku'ach Nefesh. Rather, the reason why one may not embark on a journey prior to Shabbos is because the gentile captain will be doing Melachah for the Jew on Shabbos when he ties up the sails etc.

(c) RABEINU CHANANEL writes that the Rabanan forbid traveling on a boat during Shabbos because of the prohibition of Techumin, traveling beyond the 2000 cubit limit in any direction. (This decree applies only when the bottom of the boat is within ten Tefachim of the surface of the ground beneath the water. It is permitted to travel as far as one wants on Shabbos if one remains more than 10 Tefachim off the ground while doing so.)

(d) The RIF says that the reason is because of the Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos, experiencing pleasure on Shabbos, which one will lose when he goes on a sea voyage (due to the swaying of the boat and the different climate at sea). Embarking at least three days prior to Shabbos is permissible because it takes three days to become accustomed to the swaying of the boat and the bad air at sea.

(e) TOSFOS (DH Ein Mafligin) explains that traveling on a boat on Shabbos is forbidden for the same reason that swimming is forbidden -- we fear that one may make a flotation device.

HALACHAH: Is it prohibited today to embarking within three days prior to Shabbos on a ship (such as a cruise ship)?

It would seem that all of the above reasons (except for that of the Rabeinu Chananel (c)) apply today, and it should therefore be prohibited to embark on a sea voyage close to Shabbos.

QUESTION: The Mishnah (17b) says that Beis Shamai agrees with Beis Hillel that on Friday, close to Shabbos, one may place the beams of the olive-press and wine-press atop the crushed fruits in order for the juice to be squeezed out on Shabbos. The Gemara asks why Beis Shamai "made a decree" forbidding the other actions from being done on Friday, while he did not decree that this one is forbidden.

Why does the Gemara say that Beis Shamai "made a decree" forbidding the other activities, when the Gemara earlier (18a) said that those activities are forbidden *mid'Oraisa* because of the obligation of Shevisas Kelim?


(a) The RITVA, based on TOSFOS (18a, DH Leima), answers that the Gemara here is following the opinion of Rabah, who said earlier (18a) that it is prohibited to put wheat in a watermill on Friday because it makes a loud noise and is disrespectful to Shabbos. The other activities are prohibited by Beis Shamai because we are concerned that one may do these activities on Shabbos itself, and not because of Shevisas Kelim.

(b) The RITVA rejects this explanation and gives a second one. When the Gemara says that they "made a decree," it does not mean that *Beis Shamai* made a decree, but that the *Torah* made a decree (of Shevisas Kelim) to prevent people from coming to a desecration of Shabbos. It is justified to call an act that is forbidden by the Torah a "decree."


OPINIONS: Rav and Shmuel argue whether the "oil of the olive-press workers" is Muktzah on Shabbos. What is this "oil of the olive-press workers" that they argue about?
(a) RASHI explains that it refers to the oil that is left in the cracks or corners of the olive-press. This oil is usually given to the workers. Since the owner of the press has no intention to take the oil for himself because it is assumed that his workers will take it, it is Muktzah and may not be moved on Shabbos.

(b) TOSFOS argues that just because the oil does not belong to the owner (and he has no intention of taking it) it does not become Muktzah. Tosfos explains that the oil that Rav and Shmuel argue about is the oil that flows from olives that were placed under the press before Shabbos (in our Mishnah). Since the oil was not accessible when Shabbos entered (because it was underneath the heavy wooden press), when the oil flows out from the press on Shabbos it is prohibited because of Nolad; that is, it is considered something that came into existence on Shabbos.

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