At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


A friend often says that there is no such thing as free association, everyone eventually pays.
Truer words were seldom spoken.

If you aren't Jewish, this post will baffle you. If you ARE Jewish, you will probably not be baffled, though you may be baffled - but NOT "baffled" baffled.
If you know what I mean.

In Maseches Shabbos, in the discussion of Eruvim (permitted space that one may utilize on Shabbes), Rav Ashi asks about chickens, citing as example the chicken who crosses the road (being one of four chickens mentioned in the Talmud).

Shammai holds (in Maseches Yuma) that if the chicken forgot to say the appropriate blessing (brocho) and is still within the boundaries of the eruv (in this case the road), he must say the blessing at that moment (and opines that this is a mitzvah she ha zman grama - a blessing with a time component, and hence halachically (according to Talmudic laws) a female chicken does not have to say the blessing).

Rabbi Hillel, however, avers that as long as the chicken is within sight of the road, the blessing must be said, and clarifies that it is sufficient for the chicken to hear the blessing, as an immature or female chicken is not obligated to recite it - the blessing is in the mitzvah and the hearing thereof at the appropriate time, not necessarily the utterance thereof.




RESHUS = Domain, observance, limitation, entity. Distinguish two types: rechus ha yachid (a private domain; yachid = private, unitary, solus) and rechus ha rabim ( a public domain, a street space). An eruv chatzeiros essentially has to be entirely enclosed, and can include either type of space – provided that the space is entirely within the evident bounds of the eruv. The problem arises when an object occupies space that transcends the boundaries (me’reshus l’reshus), such as a broken or rolling egg, which can inadvertently become reshus ha rabim.

KARMELIS = A bog. A damp space without walls, one of the four categories of domain of the Sabbath (private space, public space, bog, emptiness). One may not transfer anything between domains (one is forbidden to carry on the Sabbath), so if the ambulatory chicken has layed an egg, as chickens are wont to do, within the karmelis, it has to be left there until motzei shabbes - one cannot transfer it to the refrigerator (that being a reshus ha barad).

MELACHA = Work, labour - specifically as it relates to activities forbidden on the Sabbath, such as laying an egg, unless it is a case of pikuach nefesh.
If it merely pleases the chicken (meaning, if it brings pleasure, joy, or a sense of relief to the bird), and abstention does not harm her, then, keeping in mind the natural progression within the hen's oviduct of a series of eggs, the extrusion of said egg falls under the issur of borer.

[The eggshell is approximately 95% calcium carbonate crystals, which the protein matrix stabilizes - lacking the protein, the crystal structure would be far too brittle to keep its form. The standard avian eggshell is a porous structure covered on its outer surface with a cuticle which helps the egg retain the water within, and bars bacteria from without. As the eggs develop within the bird's hindmost part, the shell is formed as a liquid mineral layer around the extra-embryonic membranes, bediavad.]

Deriving any benefit from the (shabbes-layed) egg is considered an issur d'rabbanan, whereas actually consuming it is assur mi d'oraiso, IN ADDITION TO THE PROHIBITION OF NOLAD (see Sefer Ha Teruma).

But note, the Mechabar is less stringent than the Rama in this regard, ruling lechatchila.

However, if the egg was layed absent-mindedly ('beshogeig') during twilight on Friday, Rav Meir holds that one may benefit from it on Shabbes, because Chazal did not impose a penalty when the action was beshogeig. According to Rav Yehuda, however, one may not benefit from this egg on Shabbes, except beshas hadechak (in a 'situation of pressure' or even extreme necessity).
The Rif, Rambam, Baal Halachos Gedolos, Sheiltos, Ramban and Rosh all rule in accordance with Rav Yehuda.

Es bleibt a machlokes.

AV MELACHA = Literally, the father of labour. The term means a primary cause or action involved in work, which is forbidden on the Sabbath. Like with Tumah (pollution), one can distinguish between primary melacha, and subsequent melacha (Tolados). Any acts which were performed in laying the egg qualify as av melacha, and are specifically forbidden on shabbes. All tolados which resemble in effect, and derive from, the avos melachos are of course also forbidden. There are 39 avos melachos.

Now note that while LAYING the egg is, clearly, an av melacha, eggs themselves are by their very nature tolados. This is obvious!

PS. Please assume that the chicken will daven with kavanah.


  • At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree, from a halachic perspective it sounds pretty lomdish, and I don't understand why the chicken would necessarily have to be assumed to be a hen - was the word tarnegol used in the msekhte? If so, kler, it is only applicable beshehazmangramma. Otherwise, kal ve chomer, ALL chickens are chiyyuv!

    Also it strikes me that if 'she' (the hen, assuming that it WAS a hen) was mechalel shabbes beyachid to lay an egg, then kal vachomer she should be mechalel shabbes to remove a beitze from the reshus, in order to prevent a nezek.

    Does not apply to a tarnegol, however. That's pshut.

    But there's a huge difference between chilul shabbes beyachid and chilul shabbes berabim; even if you do it beyachid, doing it berabim might cause barnyard fowl to be more heter. Und so weiter.

  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger Tzipporah said…

    I'm confused. I thought "chicken" implied female, and only "roosters" are male. Although, of course, in polite company we use the term "hen" (in deference to the holy neshamas of those which contribute to our shabbos tish).

  • At 3:47 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    The femininity of chickens is implicit, but not explicit, whereas the masculinity of roosters is explicit, AND implicit.

    Capons, as a matter of politness, are always referenced as 'he' (thrid party singular masc.), rather than 'it'. They have very fragile egos.

  • At 8:26 AM, Blogger e-kvetcher said…

    >egg was layed absent-mindedly

    A beshogeig egg?

    Say that ten times fast!

  • At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You are an idiot! The word which YOU translated as 'chicken' cannot possibly be chicken! I suggest, I strongly suggest, that you reread the entire piece (and source it please), this time with a DIC. TIO. NAR. Y!


  • At 1:16 PM, Blogger Spiros said…

    None of this addresses the basic question of WHY the chicken crossed the road.

  • At 7:18 PM, Blogger e-kvetcher said…

    >WHY the chicken crossed the road.


  • At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Ari said…

    I believe the chicken wire constitutes an eruv. Plus, sakonas nefoshos is always doche Shabbos. Teiku.

  • At 1:12 PM, Anonymous acher said…

    Ich Farshteit Nisht what's going on here. A chicken that would use an Eiruv is Bichlal not Amcha, and it's Bracha would be Zevach Rshoim Toyeva. Mamesh, how is it Shayech that the Gemoroh even considers this scenario. The only Terutz that comes to mind is Nishtane Hateva, and I don't mean the chicken...

  • At 9:59 AM, Blogger e-kvetcher said…

    Speaking of frumme chickens...

    Michael Wex has this to say about the phrase "hon nokh tashmish":

    " Tashmish is the generally accepted shorthand for tashmish ha-mite, use of the bed, the standard rabbinic euphemism for sexual intercourse found in commentaries and legal codes from Talmudic times to today. It’s usually translated as "conjugal duty" or "nuptial rights." Although man is obliged to "pay" these to his wife on her return from the mikve, it's absurd to discuss conjugal duties or use vocabulary of this type when talking about poultry; Yiddish pretends that the rooster is a pious Jew who is busy with the punctilious performance of a religious duty, a Jew--for the sake of this idiom—who is always losing sleep because he has so many mitsves to fulfill: the shabbes tables of America depend on his exhaustion next morning. "

  • At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Rabbeinu Tarnegol said…

    Eggs are davka kol isha. Erlikke leite soln es avoiden.

  • At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What eggs concerns, that is why you a shabbos goy to the house must let come. So that the shabbosegg (beshoggeg or not) is not levattulo.
    But, while he is there, beware of wicked omelettes.

  • At 1:48 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    I am always aware of wicked omelettes.

  • At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Abbeidullah Meshakshouk said…

    How does this all work in Casablance? Which is, after all, entirely reshus for chickens, being 'Dar al-Beid' (the abode of the egg).

  • At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Confusing meod!


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