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Shabbat 6 What Does Your Neighborhood Look Like?

Masechet Shabbat has begun and with it a whole slew of new and complex concepts. We are talking about the reshuyot, the different areas where life is conducted. The most accessible to us are the public – reshut harabbim 鈥 and the private- reshut hayachid. But within those two as well as in addition are many other concepts. It may be helpful to examine some of the terms the Gemara uses and see what they looked like in the ancient world.

What is a reshut harabbim asks our daf.聽 The answers: a聽住专讟讬讗聽聽seratia and a聽驻诇讟讬讗聽聽plateia, as well as thoroughfares that are open at both ends聽诪讘讜讗讜转 诪驻讜诇砖讬谉聽. The open thoroughfare is easy enough to understand and if you have been to the ancient site of Susya in the southern Hebron Hills you have seen such a main street, with the passageways to courtyards branching off of it:

Daniel Ventura, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

But what of the other two terms? Rashi explains a聽住专讟讬讗聽聽as a highway: a road that leads from one city to another. The word seratia itself is a corruption of the Latin word stratos or street in English. A famous example of a stratos in Jerusalem is the place called the Lithostratos (literally paved street) in the Muslim Quarter. This street with massive paving stones was built by the emperor Hadrian in the second century CE after Jerusalem had been turned into the Roman pagan city Aelia Capitolina. Today it is far underground, in the basement of the Sisters of Zion convent. Some Christians misdate it to a century earlier and see it as the street where Pontius Pilate brings Jesus after he is condemned to death.聽聽In any case, it is a large and impressive street, something befitting a reshut harabim.

Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

We could also give the Cardo as an example of a聽住专讟讬讗聽:

讞讝讬 讞讚砖讬, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

A聽驻诇讟讬讗聽聽plateia according to Rashi is a commercial square in the center of town. Plateia is a Greek word meaning plaza or town square.聽聽In Roman times this type of plaza was called a forum. Hadrian built these in Jerusalem as well and a main one is adjacent to the Lithostatos, built over a Herodian pool. It even has an ancient gameboard etched into it. telling us that there were plenty of bored soldiers or shopkeepers biding their time here.

Two more terms our daf uses are聽住讟讬讜聽聽and聽聽爪讚讬 专砖讜转 讛专讘讬诐, intermediary spaces that are not really public or private. A聽住讟讬讜聽聽is the Greek stoa, a covered row of columns, usually near a commercial area. Herod built what is known as the royal stoa on the Temple Mount, separate from the enclosed holy area.

Royal Stoa to the left of the Temple

FOTLbill, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

爪讚讬 专砖讜转 讛专讘讬诐, literally the sides of the main road, seem to refer to an area that is between public and private property. According to Rabbi Eliezer on our daf, if this area is defined by聽讞讬驻讜驻讬, small columns, it is a separate entity, neither public or private.

To bring us into the modern age, perhaps these聽讞讬驻讜驻讬聽could be similar to the yellow lines the municipality has drawn in Mahane Yehuda market to delineate up to where bar owners may put their tables?

Shulie Mishkin

Shulie Mishkin made Aliyah from New York with a Master's degree in Jewish History from Columbia University. After completing the Ministry of Tourism guide course in 1997, she began guiding professionally and has since taught and guided all ages, from toddlers to retirees. Her tours provide a complete picture of the land of Israel and Jewish heritage, with a strong reliance on sources ranging from the Bible to 19th century travelers' reports. Alongside her regular guide work, she teaches "tour and text" courses in the Jerusalem institutions of Pardes and Matan as wel as the Women's Bet Midrash in Efrat and provides tours for special needs students in the 鈥淒arkaynu鈥 program. Shulie lives in Alon Shvut with her husband Jonathan and their five kids. Shulie Mishkin is now doing virtual tours online. Check out the options at
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