Diyumdin vs Lechi

Eiruvin (2:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 14 years ago

In the previous article we discussed the topic of tikkun mavoi. In the second perek we are introduced to the unique partition found in the case of bira’ot – waterholes. People that travelled to Yerushalaim for the festivals were faced with a problem. A deep water-hole or well can be defined as a private domain. If this waterhole was situated in the public domain one would be unable to draw water from it on Shabbat without transgressing a biblical prohibition. Therefore, in this unique case, the Chachamim enabled one to place corner boards (diyumdin) which would serve to partition the area around the hole making it a private domain and enabling the olei la’regel to draw water there.

One Mishnah (3:4), when analysed properly, reveals much about the nature of the unique partitions raised in these two categories.

R’ Yehuda states, if a public pathway cuts through [the area by the waterhole within the corner boards] it must be diverted around it. The Chachamim argue that this is not required.

To explain, R’ Yehuda maintains that the public pathway invalidates the partition (ati rabim u’me’vatel mechitzot) while the Chachamim disagree.

The Gemara (24a) quotes another debate where both R’ Yehuda and the Chachamim argue in stark contrast to the above explanation.

R’ Yehuda explains, if one has two houses on each side of the public domain he can place a lechi or korah on one side and a lechi or korah on the other, and then he can carry in that region. [The Chachamim] responded one cannot fix the public domain in that manner.

The implication is that here it is the Chachamim that maintain that the public passage invalidates the partition.

The Gemara solves the apparent contradiction in both opinions. To resolve the opinion of the Chachamim it explains that in the first case, there is a “name” of four partitions, while in the second case this is lacking. The Rashba explains that while the diyumdin constitute real walls, the lechi represent a second rate wall. In other words, the Chachamim generally maintain that a public passage cannot invalidate a genuine partition. A lechi however does not constitute a “real” wall. One could explain that the lechi simply satisfies the requirement of having a wall without being one. Consequently it cannot withstand the public passage.

The apparent contradiction in R’ Yehuda’s opinion is explained differently. The Gemara explains that according to R’ Yehuda the second case is different as it has two “genuine” walls. One point is immediately clear; R’ Yehuda does not consider the diyumdin as “genuine” walls. However, what advantage does the presence of these two walls present?

The Tosfot and Ritva explain that the R’ Yehuda maintains that an area closed off by two walls is considered a private domain. In other words, in general R’ Yehuda does maintain that the public passage invalidates the partition. However, in the second case, since the region on a biblical level is already defined as a private domain, R’ Yehuda rules one can be more lenient.

The Tosfot offer a second explanation, where one could understand that the Gemara assumed that an area closed off by two walls is not considered a private domain. Nevertheless the presence of the two genuine walls provides an advantage. How does one understand this position? R’ Yehonatan explains that R’ Yehuda only holds that the public passage invalidates partitions when it is a majority open area. In the second case however, where there are two standing walls, “the public don’t have the power to nullify the partition.” This response is quite different.

Previous explanations involved differentiating between the different types of partition. In this explanation it appears that R’ Yehuda maintains that both the lechi and diyumdin are considered quasi-partitions. Yet in the second case, where the public passage is restricted by the two real walls, the power of the public pathway to invalidate partitions is diminished.

The conclusion from the above discussion proves fundamental in our functional understanding of both diyumdin and lechi and the effect of the public pathway on these partitions.

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