מַתְנִי׳ נִתְגַּלְגֵּל חוּץ לַתְּחוּם, נָפַל עָלָיו גַּל אוֹ נִשְׂרַף, תְּרוּמָה וְנִטְמֵאת מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם — אֵינוֹ עֵירוּב. מִשֶּׁחָשֵׁיכָה — הֲרֵי זֶה עֵירוּב.
MISHNA: If one’s eiruv rolled beyond the Shabbat limit, and he no longer has access to his eiruv since he may not go beyond his limit, or if a pile of stones fell on it, or if it was burnt, or if the eiruv was teruma and it became ritually impure; if any of these occurrences took place while it was still day, prior to the onset of Shabbat, it is not a valid eiruv, since one did not have an eiruv at twilight, which is the time one’s Shabbat residence is established. However, if any of these occurred after dark, when it was already Shabbat, it is a valid eiruv, as it was intact and accessible at the time one’s Shabbat residence is determined.
אִם סָפֵק, רַבִּי מֵאִיר וְרַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמְרִים: הֲרֵי זֶה חַמָּר גַּמָּל.
If the matter is in doubt, i.e., if he does not know when one of the aforementioned incidents occurred, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda say: This person is in the position of both a donkey driver, who must prod the animal from behind, and a camel driver, who must lead the animal from the front, i.e., he is a person who is pulled in two opposite directions. Due to the uncertainty concerning his Shabbat border, he must act stringently, as though his resting place were both in his town and at the location where he placed the eiruv. He must restrict his Shabbat movement to those areas that are within two thousand cubits of both locations.
This idiom refers to a person pulled in two directions. That is, one must pull a camel and push a donkey, and one cannot be in two places at the same time.
In relationships, loyalty binds are difficult. Usually, when one tries to make “both sides happy”, the person stuck in the middle earns hatred and resentment from both sides instead of appreciation. Common loyalty binds are:
One parent being concerned about how a child is being treated by the other parent. To protect the child, it feels like one must undermine the spouse. To protect the dignity of the spouse, one may end up being too passive in regard to the child’s emotional health.
Your spouse is being mistreated by one of your parents, or your parents are being mistreated by your spouse. To side with, or protect one party, will inevitably disrespect the other.
G-d and a loved one. If your moral and religious dictates require certain actions or abstentions on your part, but this involves hurting a loved one, it is painful. For example, a close loved one is marrying somebody who is forbidden to marry to go to the wedding might be seen as condoning the sin, to not go to the wedding is an act of betrayal.
Employer and employee. Sometimes your workplace expects of you to perform acts of dubious morality. It is big enough to be wrong but small enough for it to be considered relatively harmless. Those situations are hard to negotiate. To refuse to perform can cause you a loss of your job, to go along with it is a loss of your soul.
What are options are available? The first step is not to react out of panic or defensiveness. It is ok to be in a situation that may have no easy answer. It is important to be honest and self-aware that you are in an unbearable bind, and accept that you will be handling the situation imperfectly and poorly in the interim as you may be forced by circumstances to choose between two equally unappealing options. The next step is to find a time to consider if there are any nuanced solutions, and if they involve religious and moral conflicts to seek guidance that is competent and empathic. The third step is to clearly state to both parties, possibly even together at the same time, that you feel love and loyalty for both, and at times find yourself having to unfairly choose. You can ask each of these parties if they have any suggestions for how these loyalty binds should be handled, thereby adjusting some of the responsibility off your shoulders and involving the other parties in the problem. And finally, after all is said and done, you may need to make a decision, inform the parties, and consistently stick with it.
For example, one may say to parents, “Though I love you both dearly, I cannot allow this to ruin my marriage. I respectfully encourage you to speak to my spouse with more respect and compassion and believe you have it in your power to be more sensitive to someone who may think and feel differently than our family. If you are not able to do so, I will have to support my spouse no matter if s/he is right or wrong. If you hurt my spouse you hurt me.
Or in regard to a parenting disagreement. One should never undermine a parent in front of the child, unless there is immediate and significant danger to the child. Ideally, in private the spouse needs to be told, “I did everything I could not to undermine you. It was painful because I think your approach is doing harm. I am willing to brainstorm and/or go to a third party to work out our parenting differences but I must do everything I can not to be stuck in a bind. I do not want to betray you or my child.”
When it comes to religious matters, sometimes it just is not possible to be faithful to religious dictates and to a loved one. It is worth seeking the most compassionate and competent halakhic guidance, and at the same time not every matter is solvable. It is important to reflect on the idea that to be religious means ironically to exercise choice. Though the religious person may feel he or she has no choice, it is not true.
You might say, “What do you mean? Of course I do not have a choice, if I said G-d will punish me! However, such thinking is false. There is a reason why a sinner is not struck by lightning immediately when he sins. This is because people are supposed to choose. We are supposed to voluntarily make a choice to be moral and ethical and follow the Commandments. it is not a choice, unless we actually choose. We cannot be passive aggressive with G-d.
Indeed, there is no such thing as religion without sacrifice. We try to minimize needless suffering and needless sacrifice, but the essence of religion, no matter which religion it is, even if it is serving the Baal, must involve making a voluntary decision to offer or withhold a personal object or desire in deference or dedication to the deity. If you find yourself in a position where you are called upon to make a sacrifice, consider your attitude toward it, so whatever you will do, it will be the most meaningful. There is little value in making a sacrifice in a begrudging or vengeful manner. Own your feelings of sadness, loss and conflict so the experience is full. We cannot always know what G-d wants us to gain from an experience, but we are less likely to find out if we go into it with a closed mind or a closed heart.
Translations Courtesy of Sefaria
Photo Abba Mari Rav Chaim Feuerman, Ed.D. ZT"L Leiyluy Nishmaso
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