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4. Rosh Hashanah 5. Insights: Annuling an enactment of Beis Din 6. Akravas and Eilat
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19. מהרה יבנה בית המקדש

Jeffrey K. Levin asks:

Shalom Rabbi: I hope that you are well.

I know that we are not yet up to Beitza in the Daf, but we will be there soon, and I am currently learning it in more depth in a weekly shiur. I was hoping that you might be able to share any insight that you may have with respect to the following.

On Daf 5a, the gemara discusses kerem revai, and attempts to define the region within which one must bring the fruits, rather than deconsecrating it onto money. To the west as far as Lod, and to the east as far as the Yarden. It is the north and south that particularly interested me.

The gemara says Akrava to the north and Eilat to the south. Rav Steinsaltz indicates the Akrava was a significant city near Shechem, and Eilat was a village near Chevron. However, the gemara indicates an alternative girsa which says Akrava to the south and Eilat to the north.

I notice that Akrava sounds like the word for scorpion - the constellation Scorpio is to the south. Eilat sounds like the word for ram, and I believe that the constellation Aries is somewhat to the north. I might posit from this that one would look to the constellation, drop a hypothetical line down, and thereby calculate the geographic limit. I did not see any commentaries that discussed this. Have you ever come across anything similar?

Kol tuv.

Jeffrey K. Levin

The Kollel replies:

Shalom, Jeffrey!

Rav Steinzaltz's identification seems to be based on Atlas Da'as Mikra, which in turn is based on Ben Zion Segal's "Geography of the Mishnah." The Girsa they chose does seem to be the proper one, as it is the Girsa we have in the Mishnayos (see also Dikdukei Sofrim on the Gemara there, who prefers this Girsa).

Your theory about the location of the constellations is very interesting. But I do not believe that any of the Zodiacal constellations could be directly overhead anywhere in Israel. Although one is north of the celestial equator and the other is south, when viewed from Israel they would both be due south. (They are overhead within the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, near the equator.)

Best regards,

Mordecai Kornfeld

Kollel Iyun Hadaf