Mavoi Revisited

Eiruvin (1:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 10 years ago

A mavoi is an alleyway off the main road, onto which shared courtyards open. We learn very quickly that in order for the residence of the courtyards to carry in the mavoi, two things must occur. The first is that the mavoi itself must be fixed with a crossbeam (korah) or a side post (lechi). The second requirement is that the residence must join together in a shituf mavoi, about which we will learn soon. The reason for this law and the difference between a lechi and korah was discussed in detail last cycle – see “Introduction to Mavoi*Volume 2 Issue 11. The first Mishnah discusses and debates the limits on the dimensions of a valid korah and it is on this Mishnah* that we shall focus.

The Tosfot (Eiruvin 2a) cite the question of the Ri Me’Orleans.The Masechet should have opened with the laws of how to fix a mavoi. In other words, it should have listed the parameters of a valid lechi and korah. Instead the masechet opens with what invalidates a lechi – if it is too high or if the opening is too wide. Why? The answer provided in the Tosfot is that the masechet opens in the same style as masechet Sukah opens.

The Sefat Emet offers a different solution. Recall that R’ Yehonatan explains that according to Torah law one would be allowed to carry in a mavoi that is closed at one end. Since one side was complete open to the public domain, the Chachamim were concerned that people would also begin carry in the public domain on Shabbat or perhaps transfer something between these two domains. Unlike a lechi,*the korah* specifically was instituted as a reminder to prevent these mistakes from happening.

The Sefat Emet continues that we have just completed Masechet Shabbat. The final chapter discussed various leniencies within rabbinic laws that could be employed for the purpose of a mitzvah. Our masechet opens by explaining that if a korah is too high it must be lowered. He continues that since the korah is placed only as a reminder, then certainly it may be lowered on Shabbat for the sake of mitzvah; it is important that others do not violate the prohibition of carrying on Shabbat. He cites the Shulchan Aruch (366:13) who rules that it is a mitzvah ensure that there are eiruvei chatzeirot in support of his explanation.

The explanation of R’ Yehonatan leads to some further questions. If we prohibit from carrying in a mavoi without a lechi or korah, granted that the first concern is addressed (that people might see carrying in a mavoi and carry in the public domain), the second concern however would be heightened. People are now more likely to think that mavoi is part of the public domain and transfer items between the two domains! Furthermore why is a korah and lechi required only when one wished to carry in a mavoi. According to the second concern, they should be implemented regardless.

The Sefat Emet answers that the second concern is far less worrying than the first. The reason is that one is not allowed to carry an item four amot in the public domain. For there to be a concern that one might transfer an item between the mavoi and public domain, the item would need to be very close to the border with the intended destination close to the other side. Such a circumstance is rare and therefore not as compelling to obligate the constructing a lechi or korah if one does not wish to carry within in the mavoi.


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