The second perek contains interesting cases of mechitzot – partitions. The first case is that of the pasei bira’ot. Public wells were usually located in the public domain and at least ten tefachim deep and four wide. These wells thereby constituted a private domain (reshut ha’yachid). Consequently one would not be able to transfer from the well on Shabbat without partitioning of the area around the well. This fact made it particularly difficult for the people travelling to Yerushalaim for the three festivals who needed to access to water when stopping for Shabbat. The Chachachim therefore allowed for a minimal construction for a partition known as diyumdin. It was enough to erect two upright boards (each ten tefachim high and six tefachim wide) at right angles to one another on each of the corners (forming the corners of a square) for the area to be considered a reshut ha’yachid. We need to understand this leniency and how the pasim can be considered a full partition.
The Gemara (Eiruvin 20a) asserts that the construction of the diyumdin must make the enclosed area a reshut ha’yachid on a biblical level. No matter how lenient the Chachamim wish to be they cannot permit something that will lead to a biblical transgression. That being the case, it raises a number of questions. The Gemara (15b) writes: “Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua says… this is what the Merciful One taught Moshe ‘Fence in most of it.’” It seems to suggest that the requirement that a majority of the surrounding portioning must be solid and only a minority of gaps was a halacha le’moshe mi’sinai (see Rashi there). That being the case, our case of diyumdin is one where the gaps are in the majority and the partition should be invalid.
The Rashba provides two solutions. The first is that really the requirement of a majority being solid is a rabbinic decree and on a biblical level there is nothing wrong with having many gaps. Accordingly, the above Gemara is to be understood as Hashem informing Moshe of the future rabbinic decree.*Consequently in the case of the Diyumdin, the Chachamim* were simply being lenient in their own decree of requirement a majority of a solid wall.
The second answer brought is that of the Tosfot. They explain that a majority of space does not always invalidate a partition, with our case being an exception. Since there are four walls and there are walls on each of the corners, the majority space in between does not invalidate the partition. The Tosfot add that the space in between is simply considered an entrance (petach). According to this understanding we can understand that ordinarily the Chachachim stretched the biblical requirement of a majority solid wall even to designs such as this one, but relaxed it for the olei regalim.
In short the first answer is that the requirement of a majority solid wall does indeed cover our case however the requirement itself is rabbinic, while the second answer limits the scope of the requirement making diyumdin an exception to the rule.
The other case raised in this perek is that of the karpaf. This refers to an area that was not enclosed for residential purposes. The Chachamim ruled that it could only be treated like a reshut ha’yachid if its enclosed space is less than two beit seah. While the topic of karpaf requires its own article, we focus only on the question raised in the Mishnah: do diyumdin have the same space limitations as the karpaf? R’ Yehuda rules it does, while the Chachamim rule it does not. How do we understand the position of the Chachamim? The diyumdin enclose an area like other mechitzot so why are they not limited by the laws of karpaf?
Tosfot (18a), citing Rashi, explain that since they enclose the well that is used for drinking, it is considered enclosed for dwelling purposes and not considered a karpaf. The R’ Yehonatan explains differently. He explains that the karpaf is an area whose machitzot were formed on their own and thereby not for dwelling purpose. Consequently, since the diyumdin were man made, the laws of karpaf do not apply.
We find that these two answers follow a similar pattern to the ones above. The first answer is that indeed the question of karpaf applies to all mechitzot including diyumdin, it is just that diyumdin is considered enclosed for dwelling purposes. The second answer limits the scope of karpaf (to mechitzot formed on their own), thereby excluding the case of diyumdin.
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