Daf Yomi Shabbos 98: Living in the public-private domain

“Domains join together; even though one public domain is separated from the other by a private domain, they are treated as one domain.”

As if we have not spent enough time studying what it means to carry something from domain to domain on Shabbat, today’s Daf Yomi returns to the discussion once again. And what more can there be to discuss? We revisit the allowable boundaries for throwing something from domain to domain, which is less than four cubits. And we learn that if two domains are joined together, they are treated as one. This is true even if two public domains are separated by a private one. The joining together of domains, given the blending of our private and public worlds through Zoom technology, resonated with me today.

Today’s text also provides a blueprint for building a Tabernacle in the desert, which includes guidance for arranging beams on a wagon so that they can be carried through the hot sands. I always thought of the Tabernacle as a fancy tent, but today’s reading indicates that it was a proper structure with heavy curtains and upper and lower bars and wooden beams. It was a shelter in the desert for our wandering ancestors. The Tabernacle as both a structure and a symbol reminds us of our roots, when we lived our lives under the open sky. The Tabernacle was our mobile private domain.

Today it feels as though my life is becoming more and more virtual as I conduct business, attend Pilates classes, host Passover Seders, organize cocktail parties and have coffee breaks with friends on Zoom. I have an upcoming birthday and a friend is organizing to have a meal delivered to my home so that we can share dinner from our respective computer screens.

Life is becoming one long video session with the private and public domains traversing each other. I have always been a bit of a secret voyeur and can never resist taking a quick glance into the windows of a well-lit townhouse that I pass in Greenwich Village in order for a moment to have a view into what it must be like to own so much real estate in the city. Today, as I live my life on Zoom, I am afforded endless opportunities to peek into people’s homes.  I can’t help noticing a curled-up dog lounging on someone’s sofa in the background or a stout orange cat jumping on a kitchen counter or art books neatly organized in a bookcase, or a half-eaten bagel sitting by someone’s side or a teenage child sulking in a doorway or someone’s husband making a bed. It’s all connected in what has become the public-private domain. It is as though we are now living in one of those futuristic movies where there is a blurring of the line between virtual reality and real life.


About the Author
Penny Cagan was born in New Jersey and has lived in New York City since 1980. She has published two books of poems called “City Poems “ and “And Today I am Happy." She is employed as a risk manager and continues to write poetry. More information on Penny can be found at https://brokentabletsfrompennycagan.me
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