“Why would I need two rulings regarding the same issue?”
What more can one say about eruvs and courtyards and alleyways and side posts and cross beams? Apparently, there is plenty more to say because the Rabbis really go at it in today’s Daf Yomi text and there is a great deal of intrigue among them. Shmuel becomes so aggravated by one of his colleagues that he ends up protesting in silence. He may be tired of spending his life arguing with his alter-ego, Rav, who is such a luminary that he goes solely by the title “Rav” with no proper or family name necessary. Shmuel was a man of science who may have been frustrated that his decisions were so often challenged.
It all starts with the question of how much is enough? That is, how much is enough when houses and courtyards are considered. Rav said that an alleyway that is made permissible for carrying through a side post or cross beam requires two courtyards with two houses each opening upon it. Shmuel says that such a construct is not necessary and “even one house without a courtyard and one courtyard with just one house is enough.”
It appears that Shmuel’s ruling that an alleyway that contains one house and one courtyard that could be transformed into an eruv through the erection of a side post or cross beam was a radical perspective. Rav Beruna repeated this opinion in the yeshiva which led Rabbi Elazar to ask: “Did Shmuel really say this?” Rabbi Elazar and Rav Beruna decided to travel to Shmuel’s home and ask him directly if the ruling was his. Shmuel answered that yes, indeed it was.
Rabbi Elazar challenged Shmuel and appears to have insulted him in his own home. He said to Shmuel that “we have only the wording of the Mishna,” which states that “an alleyway is to its courtyards like a courtyard is to its houses.” He interprets this riddle to mean that an alleyway must have at least two courtyards if carrying is to be permitted through the use of a side post or cross beam. He is met with stone, cold silence from Shmuel who did not answer him.
The voice of the Gemara attempts to interpret Shmuel’s silence. A tale is related that demonstrates further insult to Shmuel after he is dead. Ivut bar Ihi lived in an alleyway, which contained only one modest house and one courtyard. Shmuel allowed him to erect a side post, so that he could carry on Shabbat. But following Shmuel’s death, Rav Anan showed great disrespect and tore down the post. His message was clear: Ivut bar Ihi was prohibited from carrying in his alleyway because he lacked the requisite two courtyards containing two houses. His small footprint did not qualify him for erecting a eruv through the side post. It was a bitter act on the part of Rav Anan who sought to make a point at the expense of the reputation of a great man.
There are parallels with how the memory of Shmuel was treated with that of Ruth Beder Ginsburg who was only the second woman to serve on the US Supreme Court and a pioneer in championing women’s rights. Before she was even buried, her memory and legacy were being attacked by the current administration who put up for nomination to fill her seat someone who could potentially dismantle many of the great Justice’s accomplishments. This is the equivalent of tearing down a side post that represented her legacy.
Ruth Beder Ginsburg’s final wish included the request that she not be replaced until a new president is installed. The move to replace her in the weeks before an election is an affront to the perspective of many that her replacement should be selected by the next elected president of the United States. It is a sign of great disrespect, callousness and disregard for the democratic process.