Finding healing from each other in still waters (Daf Yomi Shabbos 101)

Koh Samui, Thailand taken by Penny Cagan, June 2019

“Learn from it that this is so.”

Today’s Daf Yomi returns us to the sea. What resonated with me today is the image of two boats tied together peacefully floating in calm waters. For me, this represents the journey so many of us are on together in reading a portion of the Talmud each day. I envision not two, but hundreds, maybe thousands, of little boats drifting in the sea with little strings of learning tying us together.

We are told that on Shabbat it is prohibited to carry something from the sea into a ship but permitted to carry something from a ship into the sea. This is because the ship is considered a private domain while the sea is a karmelit, or the intermediate domain. This presumably would allow someone to throw an anchor into the sea in order to secure a ship onto the shoreline. I may have this entirely wrong in terms of what is allowed in carrying something from one domain to another, but I think I am correct in figuring out that the ship represents each of our private domains, and the sea is the intermediate domain that connects us together.

Evidently, the dimensions of a ship matter, so one should be very particular on what type of vessel he floats out on. We are provided with the example of the small boats of Meishan, which are wide on top and narrow at the bottom. They are not considered to be in the private domain due their lower dimensions. Rav Naḥman strongly objects and demands that we should “lower the partition” because the measurements should be taken from the top of the boat straight down to the bottom. He compares this with a stick that is stuck in the public domain that has a basket swaying at its top, like the sails of a ship.

We are told that if two boats are tied together through the concept of an eruv, one may carry an object from one to another on Shabbat because the boats are now considered a single domain. An example is provided of the joining of the two boats with a string used to close the neckline of a cloak. It is difficult in reality to believe that such a string could secure the two boats together and it would take a leap of faith to stay so connected. But that may be the point — the little string is the leap of faith we have all acknowledged as we entered this Daf Yomi cycle.

I attached a photo that I took last June when I visited Koh Samui. Like so many, I am digging deep into my memories of past travel during this time of sheltering in place and little movement. I visited the resort Kamalaya that sits on the Gulf of Thailand, which is an inlet on the South China Sea. The inlet is so shallow at certain times of the day that you can walk out about a mile before the water reaches your knees. It is a place where I saw fishing boats tied together out in the horizon. I hope to have the courage to get on an airplane and travel again which is what I planned to do more of at this stage of my life. In the meanwhile, this blog and my connection with all the fellow Daf Yomers is what is keeping me afloat. May we all find healing through still waters.

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
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