Yuma 10a: Does a boat need a mezuzah?

Yuma 10a: Rabbi Yehuda holds that a succah on Succos is considered a house for the purposes of maaser (i.e. if one brings in produce to a succah, it becomes obligated in maaser). The Sages hold it does not. Rabbi Yehuda holds that a succah must participate in an eiruv and must have a mezuzah.

Rambam, Hilchos Mezuzah 6:9: A succah on Succos and a house on a boat are exempt from mezuzah because they are not made for permanent residence.

Rambam, Hilchos Berachos 11:2: There are some mitzvos that are not obligatory, but similar to optional, for example, mezuzah and building a fence around one’s roof. A person is not obligated to live in a house requiring a mezuzah in order to make a mezuzah; if he wishes, he may live his entire life in a tent or a boat. And he is not obligated to build a house in order to make a fence around his roof. 

יומא י ע”א סוכת חג בחג רבי יהודה מחייב וחכמים פוטרים. ותני עלה ר’ יהודה מחייב בעירוב ובמזוזה. רמב”ם הלכות מזוזה פרק ו הלכה ט: סוכת החג בחג ובית שבספינה פטורין מן המזוזה לפי שאינן עשויין לדירת קבע. וכן הובא ביו”ד רפ”ו סעיף יא.

רמב”ם הלכות ברכות פרק יא הלכה ב: ויש מצוה שאינה חובה אלא דומין לרשות כגון מזוזה ומעקה שאין אדם חייב לשכון בבית החייב מזוזה כדי שיעשה מזוזה אלא אם רצה לשכון כל ימיו באהל או בספינה ישב, וכן אינו חייב לבנות בית כדי לעשות מעקה.

The Steipler was once asked whether one need put a mezuzah on the doorways of a yacht. The Steipler searched the poskim in Hilchos Mezuzah and could not find a source. Rav Chaim Kanievsky asked his father what he was looking for, and when he heard, Rav Chaim said that the Rambam writes explicitly that one doesn’t need to have a mezuzah on a boat. “But I just reviewed the Rambam’s Hilchos Mezuzah and it’s not there,” said the Steipler. Rav Chaim agreed that it is not there, however, the Rambam mentions in passing, as an example, in Hilchos Berachos 11:2, that if one chooses to life his whole life in a boat, he will not need a mezuzah.

Source: FJJ March 24, 2022, p. 12.

[The Steipler certainly saw the Rambam in Hilchos Mezuzah stating that a boat does not require a mezuzah. However, the Rambam adds “because they are not made for permanent residence”. Apparently the questioner here wanted to live in his yacht all year. The Steipler thought that perhaps the Rambam only meant that a boat is exempt when one lives in it temporarily, like a succah used only on Succos. It is only in Hilchos Berachos that the Rambam says explicitly that even if one lives his whole life in a boat, he will not need a mezuzah.

Why is the boat different from the succah? The answer may be that if one lives all year in a succah, he will certainly make it waterproof, and then it will become a regular house, not a succah. But the yacht will remain the same yacht even when used all year. The aspects of the yacht that make it unfit for permanent residence (the rocking of the boat etc.) will still be present.

Interestingly, the Rambam’s source for this halacha about boats – temporary or permanent – is unknown to us. The Bach says that he saw someone write that it is a Tosefta, but we don’t have it in our Tosefta. The footnote on the Tur Hashalem says that it is found in a version of the Gemara quoted in Midrash Hagadol, a 14th century Yemenite work, on Vaeschanan, but the author of that work may have taken it from the Rambam.]


Yuma 85a: Being Mechalel Shabbos for Kiruv

Yuma 85a. The question was asked of the Tannaim: From where do we learn that saving a life supercedes Shabbos? Rabbi Shimon ben Menasia said, “And the children of Israel shall keep the Shabbos.” The Torah says: Violate one Shabbos for him, so that he may keep many Shabbosos. Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel: Had I been there, I would have given an answer better than all of them: “Live by them” – and not die by them. Rava said: All of the arguments can be refuted except that of Shmuel, because the Tannaim’s arguments only work when one is certainly saving a life, but Shmuel’s works even when one is possibly saving a life.

יומא פה. נשאלה שאלה זו בפניהם: מניין לפקוח נפש שדוחה את השבת? …. רבי שמעון בן מנסיא אומר: (שמות לא) ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת, אמרה תורה: חלל עליו שבת אחת, כדי שישמור שבתות הרבה. אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל: אי הואי התם הוה אמינא: דידי עדיפא מדידהו, (ויקרא יח) וחי בהם ־ ולא שימות בהם. אמר רבא: לכולהו אית להו פירכא, בר מדשמואל דלית ליה פרכא… אשכחן ודאי, ספק מנלן.

A man came to Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, Rosh Yeshiva of Sh’or Yoshuv, and asked the following question: The Rema (Orach Chaim 306:14) says that someone whose daughter was kidnapped by the priests for forced conversion must violate Shabbos to save her. In other words, saving someone from shmad has the same status as saving a life. If so, it should be allowed to violate Shabbos in order to do kiruv, for example driving to give shiurim or participate in a kiruv event. He said he had asked the question to many rabbis and no one had been able to answer.

Rabbi Jaeger did not have an answer either. But some time later, Rabbi Moshe Shapiro came to New York, and Rabbi Jaeger brought him to visit this man. The man presented his question, and Rabbi Shapiro answered immediately.

The Gemara in Yuma says that there are two reasons to violate Shabbos when saving a life: 1) “Violate one Shabbos so that he may keep many.” 2) Vachai bahem – “Live by them.” Rava then states that the principle of “violate one Shabbos” works only if the life will certainly be saved, but “vachai bahem” works even in a case where there is only a possibility of saving a life.

The Netziv (Haamek Sheilah 167:13) shows that there are cases when only “violate one Shabbos” works but not “vachai bahem.” In Bava Metzia 114b, the story is told that Rabbah bar Avuha met Eliyahu Hanavi in a non-Jewish cemetery. He asked, “Isn’t the Master a kohein?” Eliyahu replied that the graves of non-Jews do not contaminate their airspace. Tosafos asks: If Eliyahu was a kohein, how could he have touched the boy he brought back to life? Tosafos answers that he was certain that he would succeed in resurrecting him, so it was permitted for pikuach nefesh. The question is: if resurrecting a dead person is considered like saving a life, why did Tosafos have to say Eliyahu was sure he would succeed? Even if there was only a small chance of success, it should be allowed, just like pikuach nefesh pushes aside Shabbos even when there is a chance of success. The Netziv answers: “Vachai bahem” doesn’t apply when the person is already dead. But “violate one Shabbos” does – because indeed, after he comes back to life, he will be keeping many Shabbosos. And as Rava said in Yuma, “violate one Shabbos” works only in a case of certainty.

“Now we can answer your question very simply,” concluded R’ Moshe Shapiro. “Saving the girl from the priests may or may not be successful. But since she is still a religious Jew now, she is considered spiritually alive. The rule of ‘vachai bahem’ thus applies and one may violate Shabbos to save her. The secular Jews who are the targets of kiruv, on the other hand, are already spiritually dead. We are trying to bring them back to life. For bringing back to life, we don’t use ‘vachai bahem.’ The only reason to do it would be ‘violate one Shabbos so that he may keep many.’ And since we have only a chance of success, this principle doesn’t apply!”

Source: Shiur by Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, 7 Teves 5778


Yuma 18b: A Shevuah Not to Do a Mitzvah

Yuma 18b: They said to him, “We are the representatives of Beis Din, and you are our representative as well as the representative of Beis Din. We impose on you an oath, by the One who made His name dwell in this Temple, that you will not deviate from the instructions we have given you.” 

יומא יח ע”ב: אמרו לו: אישי כהן גדול, אנו שלוחי בית דין ואתה שלוחנו ושליח בית דין, משביעין אנו עליך במי ששכן שמו בבית הזה שלא תשנה דבר מכל מה שאמרנו לך.

Before the First Zionist Congress took place in Switzerland in 1897, Herzl sought out 100 rabbis from Poland and Lithuania who would attend the event and lend Jewish legitimacy to the new movement.  In the city of Kosova, where Rabbi Shmaryahu Yosef Karelitz, father of the Chazon Ish, served as rav, there was one rav who believed in Zionism. He was invited to the congress and he planned to attend. When R’ Shmaryahu Yosef heard about this, he called in this rav and tried to convince him not to go. In the end, he made him swear that he would not go to the congress, and indeed he did not go. Eventually he recognized his mistake and dropped Zionism altogether.

Someone asked the Chazon Ish, “Why did your father think that swearing would stop him from going to the congress? Didn’t he think he was doing a mitzvah by participating in the Zionist congress that would promote the settlement of Eretz Yisroel? If so, the oath would be, according to him, like swearing not to do a mitzvah, and he would still do the mitzvah.”

The Chazon Ish replied, “We find that before the Yom Kippur service in the Beis Hamikdash, the Beis Din made the Kohein Gadol swear that he would do the Avodah of the Ketores as they instructed him. Rabbi Akiva Eiger on the Mishnayos quotes the Pri Chadash who asks the same question you asked: According to the Tzedukim, their practice of burning the Ketores before entering the Kodesh Hakodashim is the right way to do the mitzvah, so why would a Tzeduki be deterred by the oath? One who swears not to do a mitzvah must still do the mitzvah.

“My answer (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 126:17) is that deep down, the Tzedukim did not really believe in their own shitah; it was only their yetzer hara that convinced them to sin, but they took an oath seriously, and would not transgress it.  So too with Zionism, even though the yetzer hara convinces them with Yishuv Eretz Yisroel and beautiful words, in their hearts they know the truth: Zionism is heresy and a departure from the path of the Torah; therefore the man knew that swearing not to attend the congress is not swearing not to do a mitzvah. It is a real oath, and he would not violate his oath.”

Source: Orchos Rabbeinu v. 4, p. 189

[The Pri Chadash answers that when one swears not to do a mitzvah, it’s true that he should still do the mitzvah, but nevertheless the oath is a שבועת שוא, a vain oath (Shevuos 29a). Since it was well-known that every Kohein Gadol had to swear, this would stop at least those Tzedukim who took the prohibition of a vain oath more seriously than the mitzvah of doing the avodah their way. Others, who might be willing to do the Tzeduki avodah even at the expense of a vain oath, might still do it. 

We could also propose two other answers:

1) Perhaps it was known to Chazal that the Tzedukim, having their own interpretation of the Written Torah, held that when one swears not to do a mitzvah, the oath is effective and one may indeed not do the mitzvah.

2) The answer may lie in the introductory sentence, “We are the representatives of Beis Din, and you are our representative as well as the representative of Beis Din.” This meant that they were making the Kohein Gadol the representative of the Jewish people to burn the Ketores, only on condition that he would burn it the way they instructed him. If he chose to do it the Tzeduki way, he would cease to function as Kohein Gadol, and his service would not be a mitzvah even according to the Tzedukim. Thus it would not be allowed under the rule of one who swears not to do a mitzvah. (This answer would only work according to the opinion that the kohanim are the representatives of the people. The Gemara (bottom of 19a) points out that the Mishnah reads better according to that opinion.)]