The laws of eruv are all about where we live. We might assume this means the place we lay our head at night, but today’s daf offers a somewhat counterintuitive statement by Rav that, for eruv calculation purposes, a person’s primary residence is not where they sleep but rather where they eat. For the rabbis, it seems, home is where the stomach is. (How Jewish!)
Today’s page also contains a story about this teaching:
Rav Yosef said: I have not heard this halakhah.
Abaye (his student) said to him: You yourself said it to us. You taught us that brothers who were eating at their father’s table and sleeping in their own houses each need to make a separate contribution to the eruv. But we said to you: Does this mean a person’s place of sleep determines the location of his Shabbat residence? And you replied to us that Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Brothers who receive a portion from their father and are therefore considered as though they eat at his table do not make separate eruv contributions, but these brothers eat their meals in their own homes.
Rav Yosef seems to have forgotten his own teaching that one’s home is the place one eats until his student, Abaye, reminds him of it. Forgetfulness happens to all of us from time to time. But context elsewhere in the Talmud tells us this is something more than a momentary lapse of memory. In a discussion about illness in the Gemara on Nedarim 41a, Rav Yosef observes:
The sick person forgets his studies.
And a bit further on his comment is shown to draw on personal experience:
Rav Yosef fell ill and his studies were forgotten. Abaye restored his studies by reviewing what he had learned from Rav Yosef with him.
This, of course, is exactly the story we read on today’s page.
Being ill puts stress not only on the body but on the mind. That stress can lead — according to Rav Yosef — to forgetting all the Torah that one has learned. And yet Abaye’s patient care and attention allow his teacher to remember all that he once knew.
In addition to teaching us something about how the rabbis conceive of home, today we also learn an important lesson about healing. Yes, physical illness is terrible. And yes, healing the physical illness is important. But equally important is healing the mind. Abaye, himself a pretty big deal, patiently takes the time to slowly lay out Rav Yosef’s own arguments and thoughts for him in a way that Rav Yosef can understand. And as the Gemara in Nedarim makes clear, this care succeeds and Rav Yosef’s knowledge is restored.
People are more than just bodies, and they are more than just minds. Complete healing — as we say in Hebrew, refuah shleimah — must involve both.