Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Eiruvin 102a, b

It is beginning to seem as though the rabbis are desperate to discuss matters related to Shabbat and not directly to eiruvin.  Today we move through a number of divergent discussions: whether or not and how one may be prohibited from using a bolt as a door locking mechanism, adjust a door hinge, adjust or rearrange a tent, adjust or rearrange a bridal canopy, wear a felt hat with a rim more/less than one handbreadth, remove or replace a bandage, clean a wound under a bandage, and retie a harp string while in the Temple on Shabbat.

Each of these questions is considered carefully, drawing in knowledge about related baraitot, mishnaot and practices in different places and times.  To understand the discussions we must be aware of laws regarding categories of what is prohibited on Shabbat -- for example, one may clean a wound but one may not clean the bandage itself.  This would involve spreading the ointment on the bandage, and spreading is a sub-category of smoothing.  Smoothing is one of the categories of actions prohibited on Shabbat.

A number of times the rabbis refer to practices that are permitted in the Temple but not in other parts of the country.  My understanding is that the Temple was destroyed long before the Talmud was codified. Does that mean that we are not allowed to do these things at all in modern times, as there is no Temple?  For example, 102b tells us that the broken string of a harp can be repaired by tying a bow (rather than a knot) in the string but only when in the Temple.  Making music in the Temple was a mitzvah, we are told.  Are the rabbis referring to making music in the Temple on Shabbat?  I had assumed that instrumental music was never part of orthodox Jewish practice.  In modern times, reform and reconstructionist services often enhance tefilot with instruments.  Perhaps this practice was taken ancient times...?

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