Monday, January 02, 2006

Part 1: Shishim Ribo – A Mystery Solved

This post is based on a article published in HaPardes (27th year, vol. 6) by Rav Mordechai Yehudah Leib Zaksh (1906-1963), author of Dikdukei Sofrim LeTalmud Yerushalmi, among other seforim.

There is a well known difficulty cited in the Ramban (Shabbos 57a and Eruvin 59a) regarding Rashi’s shita that one of the requirements of a reshus harabbim is that there has to be shishim ribo traversing the street. The Ramban questions from where does Rashi know the criterion of shishim ribo; there is no mention of this requirement in Shas at all (see also Ritvah, 59a; Magid Mishna, Shabbos perek 14:1 and Rivash, siman 405).

The following explanation will clear up this difficulty: The Meiri (Shabbos 6a) cites a passage that is not mentioned in our Gemara, “לפי שאמרו בכאן אין רשות הרבים בבבל.” The Ravyah (siman 201, p. 276) refers to a similar passage that is not stated in our Gemara, “אמר עולה אין דרך רשות הרבים בבבל.” The Gemara in Berachos (58a) states,”.אמר עולה נקיטינן אין אוכלוסא בבבל” The Gemara explains that אוכלוסא (multitudes) is not less than shishim ribo. In Meseches Berachos, Ulla maintained that there is no shishim ribo in Bavel (Babylonia) and according to this version of Meseches Shabbos, Ulla stated there is no reshus harabbim in Bavel either. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that since there was no shishim ribo in Bavel there was no reshus harabbim as well. Rashi, when he stated that one of the requirements of a reshus harabbim is that there has to be shishim ribo traversing the street, probably based his conclusion on a similar manuscript of the Gemara as did the Meiri and the Ravyah.

Incredibly, there is a manuscript of Meseches Shabbos (6a) in the Vatican Library (Bibliotheca Apostolica, Ebr. 127; see facsimile below) that actually has these additional lines that are not printed in our Gemara, “אמ' עולה אין רשו' הרבי' בבבל אמ' רבה בר בר חנה ירושלים אילמלא דלתותי נעולות בלילה חייבי משו' רשו' הרבי." Furthermore, Rav Mordechai Yehudah Leib Zaksh provides a fascinating bit of information that in the Munich codex (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Hebrew MS. No. 95; see facsimile below) on the margins of this daf (Shabbos, 6a) near the place of the insertion of this phrase in the Vatican codex there is a faint Addendum note that, although illegible, starts with an "א" (for אמ' עולה) and has precisely enough words to have been the same inclusion as the Vatican codex. (The Munich codex, which was completed in 1369, is the only complete extant manuscript of the Bavli; see Raphael Nossan Nata Rabbinovicz, Dikdukei Sofrim, p. 9. According to Breslauer Jahresbericht, 1905, p. 28, the Munich codex was based on a mid-ninth century manuscript.)
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This facsimile above of Meseches Shabbos (6a) from the Vatican codex (Bibliotheca Apostolica, Ebr. 127) includes the additional phrase from Ulla. Note the placement of the passage from Rabbah bar bar Chanah also in Meseches Shabbos 6a and not just in Eruvin 6b as it is in our edition of the Gemara.

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From this facsimile above of the Munich codex (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Hebrew MS. No. 95) we can discern the addition on the margins of an extra paragraph that is not included in our edition of Meseches Shabbos (6a).
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In a related vein, the Gra asked the following question on Rashi’s shita (Gaon Yaakov, Eruvin, 6b; see also Bais Meir, Eruvin 6a and Bi’ur Halachah 345:7). Ulla maintains (Eruvin, 6b) that the Babylonian Mechoza (see Kesubos 54a) would be classified as a reshus harabbim if not for the fact that there was delasos that closed because, as Rashi elucidates, there was shishim ribo therein. However, according to Ulla there was no shishim ribo in Bavel (Berachos, 58a). Rav Zaksh answers that there were two distinct entities − a city called Bavel and a country called Bavel. Ulla’s statement that there was no shishim ribo in Bavel was referring to the city of Bavel; however, according to Rashi the country called Bavel could have a city, such as Mechoza, with a population of shishim ribo (see also Bais Av, 2:5:1; for an alternative response see Minchas Pitim, siman 345:7). While Rav Zaksh doesn’t mention that Tosfos (Shabbos 36b) asks on Rashi that there is no city named Bavel only a country, the Maharitats (Even Ha’ezer 2:11), Maginei Shlomoh (Shabbos 36b), and Seridei Aish (3:38) muster considerable support otherwise.