THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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OPINIONS: The Beraisa teaches that there are four domains with regard to
Shabbos: Reshus ha'Rabim (public domain), Reshus ha'Yachid (private
domain), "Karmelis," and Mekom Petur (exempt area). What does the word
"Karmelis" mean, and how does it relate to the domain that it describes?
(a) RASHI (3b, DH Ba'i Abaye) says that it comes from the verse, "Ye'aro
*v'Charmelo*..." (Yeshaya 10:18), which means "fertile field." Such a field
is not a place for the public to travel in nor is it a place for the use of
a private individual.
The ROSH YOSEF explains that perhaps all three explanations are true, and
each one refers to a different type of Karmelis:
(b) TOSFOS (6a, DH Karmelis) explains, based on a Yerushalmi, that
"Karmelis" comes from the words "Rach u'Mal," which mean "soft and
rollable," referring to grain that is not very moist, but not very dry
either. Since a Karmelis is not a Reshus ha'Rabim nor a Reshus ha'Yachid,
it is referred to by this hybrid name.
(c) RAMBAM (PERUSH HA'MISHNAYOS) explains that "Karmelis" means "k'Armelis"
-- "like a widow." A widow is not married, but she is also not a Besulah.
Likewise, a Karmelis is not a Reshus ha'Rabim, but it is also not a Reshus
(a) One type of Karmelis is the Bik'ah, a valley full of grain. It is
called Karmelis because of the word "v'Charmelo" which means "fertile field
(Rashi's explanation, above).
We thus find that the three meanings of the word "Karmelis" refer to the
three different types of Karmelis!
(b) Another type of Karmelis is the Mavuy (alley) and Karpaf she'Lo Hukaf
l'Dirah (open field that was fenced-in but not for the sake of residential
purposes; Gemara, 7a). Mid'Oraisa, it is a Reshus ha'Yachid, but the
Rabanan decreed that it should be have the stringencies of both a Reshus
ha'Yachid and a Reshus ha'Rabim. It is called "Karmelis" because it is like
the woman who was *once* married (i.e., the field once had a status of
Reshus ha'Yachid), but then lost her status (the field is now considered to
have the stringencies of a Reshus ha'Rabim).
(c) The Rosh Yosef does not explain the third Karmelis. We find, though, in
the Gemara that there is a third type of Karmelis: a pole in Reshus
ha'Rabim or a step between Reshus ha'Yachid and Reshus ha'Rabim. Since it
is set between, or adjacent to, the two domains, it is represented by the
hybrid name, "Rach u'Mal."
2) 600,000 PEOPLE IN RESHUS HA'RABIM
 DEFINING A "RESHUS HA'RABIM"
 600,000 WHEN?
OPINIONS: The Gemara defines Reshus ha'Rabim as a major highway between
cities, or a major public gathering spot in town. The Gemara later (99a)
adds that it must be 16 Amos wide. Our Gemara then says that when the
Jewish people were in the desert, the desert was considered to be a Reshus
ha'Rabim. What was it that made it into a Reshus ha'Rabim at that time?
(a) RASHI explains that when the Jews were in the desert, the desert became
a "Makom Hiluch la'Rabim," a place in which many people walk. Rashi
understands, then, that a defining property of a Reshus ha'Rabim is that
many people *actually* walk there. There is no fixed number of how many
people have to walk there. This is also the opinion of the RAMBAN, RAN,
RASHBA, and the RAMBAM (see (c) below).
HALACHAH: The BI'UR HALACHAH (OC 345) writes that a G-d-fearing person
should follow the more stringent opinion, that does not require a Reshus
ha'Rabim to have 600,000 people (a). One who follows this stringent opinion
will not rely on a "Tzuras ha'Pesach," or what we commonly call an "Eruv,"
if it encloses a street that is 16 Amos wide, even though 600,000 people do
not use that street. (A "Tzuras ha'Pesach" only makes a Karmelis, and not a
Reshus ha'Rabim, into a Reshus ha'Yachid. According to those who do not
require 600,000 people, any public area wider than 16 Amos is a Reshus
(b) TOSFOS (DH Kan) explains that one condition of Reshus ha'Rabim is that
*600,000* people actually be found there. That is what made the desert a
Reshus ha'Rabim. The opinion that 600,000 people are necessary to make a
Reshus ha'Rabim is also the opinion of RASHI in Eruvin (6b and 59a), the
BEHAG and the ROSH (Eruvin 1:8). (Tosfos in Eruvin 6a point out that even
though the Jews numbered much more than 600,000 people when we include the
number of women, children, and mixed multitude, nevertheless the criteria
for Reshus ha'Rabim is established based only on what is written explicitly
in the verses.)
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 14:1) rules that a desert *today* is a
Reshus ha'Rabim. The Kesef Mishnah cites a responsa written by the Rambam's
son, Reb Avraham, who explains his father's opinion. When the Gemara
differentiates between a desert in the time that the Jewish people
sojourned there and in our time, it means to say that in our time a desert
is a Reshus ha'Rabim, while in the times of the Jewish people's sojourn
there it was not a Reshus ha'Rabim (as opposed to the way the other
Rishonim understood, that it *was* a Reshus ha'Rabim when the Jews were
there, and is *not* a Reshus ha'Rabim in our time). A desert is a Reshus
ha'Rabim now because all people are *free to walk* through it. When the
Jews were in the desert, the area in which they were encamped was not free
for all to walk through, because it was the Jews' private residential area.
Therefore it was not a Reshus ha'Rabim. Thus, the Rambam's criteria for a
place to be Reshus ha'Rabim is that it must be an area that is *free for
everyone* to walk through, even if large numbers of people are not actually
to be found there at any given time.
OPINIONS: According to the opinion that an area needs 600,000 people going
through it in order to be considered a Reshus ha'Rabim, how often do they
have to be there?
(a) The REMA (OC 345:7) says that 600,000 people must go through that area
*every day*. (This appears to be based on an inference from the RAN who --
when he argues on the opinion that requires 600,000 people -- says that it
is not necessary for "600,000 people to be going through *every day*.")
The MISHNAH BERURAH (345:24) argues, pointing out that no Rishon actually
suggests such a ruling.
(b) TOSFOS and RASHI in Eruvin say that 600,000 people must be "Metzuyim
Sham," i.e. they must frequent the area. They do not necessarily have to be
walking through together at one moment, but each person may frequent the
area at a different time.
(c) The RAMBAN (Eruvin 59a) adds that even according to those who require
600,000, the requirement of 600,000 people applies only to an open square
("Platya") where people gather together. However, a highway ("Seratya") is
considered a Reshus ha'Rabim even without 600,000 people on it, since it
*leads* to a place where 600,000 people gather, and it is used by the
(d) The RAN cites the RE'AH who adds that according to those who require
600,000 people, not only is a highway considered a Reshus ha'Rabim because
it opens into a place where 600,000 people gather, but *any area* which
opens into a gathering place of 600,000 people is considered Reshus
ha'Rabim. Consequently, the *entire desert* became Reshus ha'Rabim because
of the one place in the desert in which the Jews dwelled.
(BI'UR HALACHAH #345)