26a-b: Sleeping and Napping
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Key words and phrases in Hebrew and Aramaic are marked in blue, and their translation/explanation can be seen by placing the cursor over them.
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Within the quoted texts, my explanations and additions are also noted in red.
Last week we began to discuss the rules relating to akhilat keva and akhilat arai. One may not eat a meal (akhilat keva) outside the sukka, but one may eat a snack (akhilat arai) outside the sukka. After a short discussion regarding the amount of food that constitutes a snack as opposed to a meal, the gemara quotes a beraita regarding a related issue.
We begin seven lines from the end of the short lines in the gemara on 26a - please don't forget to follow along in a regular gemara!
The rabbis taught:
We (may) eat a light eating outside the sukka, but we may not sleep a light sleep outside the sukka.
What is the reason?
Rav Ashi said: a decree lest he sleep deeply.
Abaye said to him: but that which was taught in a beraita: "one may sleep a light sleep in his tefillin but not a deep sleep," we should be concerned lest he fall into a slumber!
Rav Yosef son of Rav Ilai said: (the beraita discusses) one who entrusts his sleep to others.
Rav Masharshia asked: your guarantor needs a guarantor!
Rather, Rabba bar bar Chana said in the name of R' Yochanan: one who places his head between his knees we are dealing with.
Rava said: there is no set amount to (deep) sleep.
אוכלין אכילת עראי חוץ לסוכה, ואין ישנים שינת עראי חוץ לסוכה.
מאי טעמא? אמר רב אשי: גזרה שמא ירדם.
אמר ליה אביי: אלא הא דתניא: ישן אדם שינת עראי בתפילין, אבל לא שינת קבע, ליחוש שמא ירדם!
אמר רב יוסף בריה דרב עילאי: במוסר שינתו לאחרים.
מתקיף ליה רב משרשיא: ערביך ערבא צריך!
אלא אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יוחנן: במניח ראשו בין ברכיו עסקינן.
רבא אמר: אין קבע לשינה.
The short beraita quoted here at the beginning of our gemara compares the obligation to eat in the sukka with the obligation to sleep in the sukka. When it comes to eating, there is an exception - one may eat a snack outside of the sukka. When it comes to sleeping, however, one may not even doze off outside the sukka. The gemara inquires as to the reason behind this difference between eating and sleeping.
The first answer is presented by Rav Ashi. According to Rav Ashi, there is no inherent prohibition, on the level of Torah law (de-oraita), to take a short snooze outside the sukka, just as it is permissible to eat a small snack outside the sukka. However, the rabbis saw fit to prohibit even short dozes outside the sukka out of concern lest one fall into a deeper sleep and violate the mitzva de-oraita of sukka.
Abaye challenges Rav Ashi's assertion – that we are concerned that one who dozes off may fall into a deeper sleep – on the basis of a beraita dealing with another halakha related to sleeping. The beraita rules that while one may not sleep deeply while wearing tefillin, one may take a short snooze with tefillin. If Rav Ashi were correct, Abaye claims, we should forbid taking a short snooze in one's tefillin just as we prohibit dozing off outside the sukka, lest he fall into a deep sleep!
The gemara offers two possible answers to Abaye's challenge, both of which suggest that there is no difference between a short snooze outside the sukka and a short snooze in one's tefillin. Generally, we are concerned with the possibility that one who takes a short nap may fall into a deeper sleep, but the beraita regarding tefillin addresses a unique situation. Rav Yosef explains that the beraita refers to a case in which one "gives his sleep to others," which means that he appoints someone to wake him if he drifts off into a real sleep. In such a case, our regular concern is alleviated. Rav Masharshia argues that this does not suffice to allay our fears; who says the "guarantor" will responsibly carry out his duties? Therefore, Rabba bar bar Chana gives a different example of a case in which we are not concerned that snooze will become sleep: if the person places his head between his knees. That position is not comfortable enough to fall into a deep sleep, so our general concern does not apply.
This discussion is all within Rav Ashi's explanation of why one may not take even a very short snooze outside the sukka. Rava, however, has an entirely different explanation. In his view, when it comes to sleep there is no distinction comparable to the distinction between eating a snack and a meal. There is no boundary-line at which a "snooze" becomes a full-fledged nap. Any amount of sleep is considered real sleep, and therefore must take place in the sukka.
(This gemara is a good example of why one must always keep the "big picture" in mind while learning gemara. The structure of this piece of gemara is:
Question (2) on Answer 1
Answer 1 to Question 2
Rejection of Answer 1
Answer 2 to Question 2
It is easy to get distracted by the exchange surrounding Answer 1, and not realize that Answer 2 has returned to address the original question of the gemara. One would then have a difficult time understanding how Answer 2 relates to Question 2!)
Take a moment and consider the relevance of Abaye's question (on Rav Ashi) to the answer of Rava. Does Rava totally avoid this question? Why or why not?
Abaye's question was that the beraita concerning tefillin indicates that we are not concerned that a short doze may turn into a "sleep." This contradicts Rav Ashi's comment attributing the prohibition to doze outside of the sukka to this very concern. Rava avoids this problem by explaining that the reason one may not even take a short doze outside the sukka is not the prospect of it becoming deep sleep, but rather because the doze itself is prohibited outside the sukka. Thus, there is no contradiction between Rava's answer and the beraita's ruling with regard to tefillin.
Nevertheless, we are still left with a question: why is it that a short doze is permitted in one's tefillin? If we assume that all sleep is "real" sleep, why should we ever differentiate between a short doze and a full-fledged nap?
Rashi (s.v. Rava amar) answers this question based on a statement of Rava in Mashechet Shabbat (49a). There is a fundamental difference between the prohibition to sleep outside the sukka and that of sleeping in one's tefillin. Sleeping outside the sukka is an inherent violation of the mitzva of sukka. The demand that we dwell in our sukkot requires treating them as our home, and since people normally sleep at home, we must sleep in our sukkot. With regard to tefillin, however, sleeping is not inherently forbidden, but rather gives rise to a strategic concern: a person who is asleep has less control over his body and may pass air, in violation of the sanctity of the tefillin which demands a high standard of bodily cleanliness. Since the prohibition against sleeping in tefillin is merely a strategic one, designed to ensure bodily cleanliness, we forbid only the type of sleep that may likely cause a breakdown of personal cleanliness. Since it is less likely that somebody taking a very short doze will pass air, short dozes are permitted.
Back to the gemara
The gemara now continues to discuss issues related to sleeping while wearing tefillin. We are now four lines from the end of 26a:
One beraita states: One may sleep in his tefillin a light sleep but not a full sleep.
And the other beraita states: both full and light.
And the other beraita states: not full and not light.
No question: this (beraita) - where he held it in his hand,
this - where he placed it on his head,
this - where he spread a cloth over it.
And how much is a light sleep?
Rami bar Yechezkel taught: the time it takes to walk one hundred amot.
תני חדא: ישן אדם בתפילין שינת עראי אבל לא שינת קבע.
ותניא אידך: בין קבע בין עראי.
ותניא אידך: לא קבע ולא עראי!
לא קשיא: הא דנקיט להו בידיה,
הא - דמנחי ברישיה,
הא - דפריס סודרא עלויה.
וכמה שינת עראי?
תני רמי בר יחזקאל: כדי הילוך מאה אמה.
The gemara presents three seemingly contradictory beraita'ot that deal with the issue of sleeping while wearing tefillin. One beraita states that one may sleep lightly in one's tefillin but not deeply – a position we have already seen above. The next beraita argues that one may sleep freely in one's tefillin, whether a light sleep or a deep sleep. The third beraita takes the opposite view and forbids all sleep while wearing tefillin, including a light nap!
The gemara answers that the three beraita'ot address three different cases, which accounts for their different rulings, but the gemara does not specify which beraita addresses which case. The sequence of the cases does not appear to correspond to the order in which the beraita'ot are presented, as it seems difficult to imagine that one may sleep even deeply while wearing tefllin on his head, but if they are covered he may not sleep even lightly!
Rashi (beginning with s.v. de-nakit, 8 lines from the end of 26a) explains:
Where he held it in his hand - not full (sleep) and not light (sleep), lest they fall from his hand.
Where they were placed on his head - light is permitted and full is prohibited, lest he pass air.
Where he spread a cloth over them - he placed them near his head, whether full or light (is permitted), for the Torah was not given to the ministering angels.
According to Rashi, the first case, in which the person holds his tefillin, is the situation addressed by the third beraita. Given the concern that the person may drop his teflillin, he may not even sleep lightly. If he is wearing his tefillin regularly (the second case), he may doze off but may not sleep deeply, as the first beraita ruled. If he has removed his tefillin and wrapped them (the third case), then he may sleep even deeply (the second beraita), despite the fact that he has not put them away in a secure place. Such a requirement would have been extremely troublesome (especially in ancient times, when people wore tefillin most of the day), and Halakha does not demand more than normal people can be expected to do.
The gemara concludes with an objective definition of what is considered a light doze which is permissible while wearing tefillin: the time it takes to walk one hundred amot. An ama is between one and a half and two feet, and thus a light doze is one that lasts the amount of time required to walk 150-200 feet, which is generally understood to be a little less than one minute.