[list] Rabbi Yehudah in the Bath House

David Derovan derovan at netvision.net.il
Fri Apr 1 03:35:39 CST 2005

In response to David Eisen's Daf Yomi question - And it is indeed 
refreshing to see the occasional Torah question on the "List" - the issue 
of Mar'it A'yin does not apply to the case of Rabbi Yehudah for two reasons:
(1) Mar'it A'yin is usually applied to instances of supposed violation of a 
Torah-level (D'Oraitah) law, such as washing clothes on Shabbat. It is a 
Mar'it A'yin problem to set out clothes to dry over Shabbat where people 
can see them, because everyone will think that you washed them on Shabbat 
and that it is OK to do so, when washing clothes is a D'Oraitah violation. 
Bathing, on the other hand, is only a Rabbinic prohibition. Given some real 
life experience, the Rabbis were afraid that the bath attendants would 
stoke and/or feed the fires in the bath houses to keep the water hot. So, 
they banned bathing on Shabbat. Yes, you can still wash your face and hands 
if they get dirty on Shabbat!
(2) Mar'it A'yin can only be applied in those cases where the Gemara 
applies the rule. So, you and I cannot accuse Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi of 
violating Mar'it A'yin in this case because the Gemara does not apply 
Mar'it A'yin to this kind of case.
If indeed there were a Mar'it A'yin problem in what Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi 
did, the Gemara - not the Rishonim etc. - would have been the first to jump 
up and say so.
One thing is certainly evident from the story: Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi had 
enough confidence and felt comfortable enough halachically to go take a 
"Shvitz" on Shabbat. And no, the Gemara does not bring the story to tell us 
how great "he" was, but to teach us to have the same confidence and ease in 
doing things halachically without looking over our shoulders to see if 
someone is aghast that we were not "Machmir".
Enjoy the Daf Yomi!!

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