April 14, 2024
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Friday Morning the Rabbi’s Daughter Ate the Eruv Tavshilin

Disaster Strikes

What a disaster! Many years ago, on an early Friday morning of Shavuot, one of my three daughters mistakenly ate the eruv tavshilin. The Mishna (Beitzah 2:1) teaches that if someone eats the eruv tavshilin we may longer cook on Friday Yom Tov for Shabbat.

The eaten eruv was not only potentially a problem for our family but for many in the community as well. The rabbi is expected to acquire his eruv tavshilin on behalf of his entire community. The Gemara (Beitzah 16b) records that Shmuel’s father made an eruv tavshilin for the Jews of Naharde’a and Rabbi Ami and Rav Assi made one for the entire Teveria. Rabbis continue this practice until today (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 527:7).

The rabbi acquires his eruv tavshilin on behalf of those who forgot to make one. On more than one occasion I have been approached by congregants informing me that they forgot to make an eruv tavshilin, and I was happy to tell them that they may rely on the one I made for the entire community. Thus, when the eruv tavshilin is eaten in the rabbi’s home, the implications are not only for the rabbi but for his community as well.

A Solution

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. First, I am not the only rabbi who makes an eruv tavshilin for the entire community. Second is that my daughter ate only the matzah portion of the eruv tavshilin, but the egg was spared.

We customarily set aside a cooked item and a baked good for the eruv tavshilin (Shulchan Aruch 527:2). Often it is an egg and a matzah. However, the Ri (cited by Tosafot Beitzah 17b s.v. Amar Rava) notes that the cooked item is the crucial component. Indeed, the pivotal mishnah (Beitza 2:1) presents the eruv tavshilin as one cooked item, without mentioning the need for a baked article.

Rabbeinu Tam, though, disagrees, pointing to the statement of Rabbi Eliezer (Beitzah 15b), who requires setting aside bread as part of creating an eruv tavshilin. The Ri counters, noting that Rabi Eliezer represents a singular opinion (da’at yachid), whose approach does not constitute normative halacha.

The Ri concludes on a highly uncharacteristic emotional note. He notes that he did not have the heart to deviate from the practice of his beloved uncle Rabbeinu Tam. The Ri is not only the talmid of Rabbeinu Tam but also resided at his uncle’s home during his years of study.

The Ri, despite his disagreement with his uncle, saw the eruv tavshilin made by Rabbeinu Tam and could not bear to deviate in practice from his uncle’s ruling. Both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews similarly honor Rabbeinu Tam’s practice. Therefore we set aside not only a cooked item but also a baked component for our eruv tavshilin. However, if one forgot to set aside a baked item or it was eaten (as happened at the Jachter home), the eruv tavshilin remains in effect, as fundamentally the Ri’s opinion is accepted as baseline halacha. Thus, the cooking proceeded that Friday Shavuot for Shabbat in both the Jachter home and beyond.

Conclusion

Halacha recommends eating the eruv tavshilin at the Shabbat seudah shelishit (Mishna Berura 527:45 and Yalkut Yosef 527:8). Once we use an item for one mitzvah, we use it for yet another mitzvah. In light of our discussion, we should not only eat the matzah portion of the eruv tavshilin but the egg as well. After all, we follow the Ri, who insists that it is the cooked item that is the crucial component of the eruv tavshilin.


Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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