אִי צוּרְבָּא מֵרַבָּנַן הוּא, אָמְרִינַן: שְׁמַעְתָּא מְשַׁכְתֵּיהּ. וְאִי עַם הָאָרֶץ הוּא, אָמְרִינַן: חַמְרָא אִירְכַס לֵיהּ.
The Gemara explains: If he is a Torah scholar [tzurva merabbanan], we, the observers, would say: Perhaps his study pulled him, i.e., he was engrossed in his study and was not paying attention to where he was going. And if he is an ignoramus, we would say: Perhaps he lost his donkey and went to look for it. His actions give no indication that he is going to establish an eiruv for the following day, as establishing an eiruv does not require any recognizable action.
One of the most tragic incidents of משכתא שמעתא occurred on Erev Yom Kippur:
כתובות סב, ב
כי הא דרב רחומי הוה שכיח קמיה דרבא במחוזא הוה רגיל דהוה אתי לביתיה כל מעלי יומא דכיפורי יומא חד משכתיה שמעתא הוה מסכיא דביתהו השתא אתי השתא אתי לא אתא חלש דעתה אחית דמעתא מעינה הוה יתיב באיגרא אפחית איגרא מתותיה ונח נפשיה
This is as it is related about Rav Reḥumi, who would commonly study before Rava in Meḥoza: He was accustomed to come back to his home every year on the eve of Yom Kippur. One day he was particularly engrossed in the halakha he was studying, and so he remained in the study hall and did not go home. His wife was expecting him that day and continually said to herself: Now he is coming, now he is coming. But in the end, he did not come. She was distressed by this and a tear fell from her eye. At that exact moment, Rav Reḥumi was sitting on the roof. The roof collapsed under him and he died. This teaches how much one must be careful, as he was punished severely for causing anguish to his wife, even inadvertently.
This story is difficult to understand. Is it fair that the The loyal wife who missed her husband, and was waiting forlorn for her husband to show up should suffer the loss? She shed only one tear, and this is what happens?!?
Perhaps this story is an allegory: His name was Rechumi, which means love, which is ironic. The entire incident occurs on Erev Yom Kippur. The roof fell in means his home collapsed and also suggests that though Rav Rechumi was devout and lofty, he fell. It means that though Rav Rechumi was as devout as they come, and on the day of the year that one is most devout, somehow he was missing something in his sh’lom bayis. We all need to think about that one.
Translations Courtesy of Sefaria
Photo Abba Mari Rav Chaim Feuerman, Ed.D. ZT"L Leiyluy Nishmaso
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